Monday, 3 April 2017

Stand up paddle board world record* made on Grand Union Canal

This morning at 10.00 an exhausted stand up paddle boarder came in to the bank at Gayton Junction and was helped off her paddle board. Joanne Hamilton Vale, from Banbury, had just completed 24 hours of paddling, standing on a glorified surf board, continuously save for four breaks of no more than one and a half minutes. Her route was the section of Grand Union Canal between Blisworth and Bugbrooke, each there-and-back taking about two hours.

We became aware of a world record endurance attempt when Jo, in brightly coloured garb, kept paddling past our boat, accompanied on the towpath by someone jogging along filming her. I reckon she must have passed our boat 26 times - twice on each of the twelve "laps" and another twice to bring her up to the 24 hours required.

Two of Jo's supporters - from Cumbria - patiently answered my questions about the record attempt. It was much easier photographing them, relatively slow moving, than Jo, going about as fast as she could (commensurate with lasting 24 hours).

We now took every opportunity we could to cheer Jo on to victory.

I displayed a message of encouragement on the boat. Jo later asked me for my home-made sign, visible in a later photo.

At the end of her 24 hours, during which she got too hot during the warm sunny day and too cold during the starry night, she looked shattered. As well one might. While she was being congratulated and tended to, evidence of the distance covered and time taken were being meticulously filmed.

Jo recovered enough to smile with my sign ...

... before group photo time.

So how did Jo do? Well, according to provisional data (and my memory), she paddled a total distance of 179km in the requisite 24 hours. That's 111 miles at an average speed of 4.66 mph in old money (yes, she had special permission from CRT to break the speed limit). Of course, she had no locks to do.

*Guinness World Records has to confirm the result before Jo can truly claim to have beaten the previous record, of 177.79km by an American.

I shall endeavour to update this post when I get the information.

Jo raises money for Stand Up for the Cure, a cancer charity. Jo is herself a survivor of breast cancer. (I can't link to the charity's website as it seems to be insecure.)

You will see in one of the photos the red and white tape still closing off the Northampton Arm. My photos from yesterday did make it onto BBC Look East - neighbouring boat Festina Lente saw the story and we watched it on iPlayer at Ally and Ben's house this afternoon.

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