Rowland Sticks It!

One of my uber sea kayaking heroes once again earns the kudos.   Last Saturday, Rowland Woollven coach and guide in Oban, Scotland completed his circumnavigation of Great Britain by sea kayak.  Rowland is the 19th person to have made the journey, but the real stand out for me is that he’s the first person to complete the circumnavigation using a “traditional” or Greenland Paddle.  It was not long ago that people were saying that Greenland paddles were not sufficient or ideal for such adventures.  Well, we all knew better, didn’t we?!  

It’s impossible to express the challenge of sea kayaking around Great Britain. It’s 2118 nautical miles of some of the most unforgiving ocean & rugged coastline that the planet has to offer.  Rowland, who began this attempt in 2008 was hit with his share of delays and disappointments, but just wouldn’t let go of the dream.  In the end his strength of will and character brought him through to an amazing personal victory.

On a personal note, I remember the first time I met Rowland some years ago while at a symposium in Bodega Bay, California. I’d seen him once before in a video by Justine Curgenven and was totally star-struck.. (That happens sometimes!)  Next thing I know he’s in the water and I’m supposed to rescue him in foamy, sloppy water as he was slowly being carried up toward some menacing rocks.  Being from Wisconsin, I had only learned one rescue style and was stuck in a mental box, trying to accomplish it the only way I knew how.  What’s more, I was processing at the speed of a Coleco, simply because I had never been in a kayak on the sea before, and not in any sort of choppy conditions. Next thing I know Rowland, who was bobbing in the waves shouts “What the hell are you doing?”  That woke me up!  Yeah, that’s why I like this guy!  LOL!

Congratulations Dude!  I’m so happy for you!   Oh, and maybe you could shave now..  :)

* photos provided by Rowland Woollven. Use by permission. Thank you!.

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6 Responses

  1. Well done, Rowland, I’m very happy for you… I remember your disappointment in Anglesey but I was sure that you would closed the circle, sooner or later! Congrats from Italy… Tatiana

  2. Rowland

    Thanks Derrick and Tatiana!

    I’m sure you make half the stories up Derrick – I can’t remember shouting at you: I’m sure it was just focussed encouragement! :-)

    1. derrick

      Oh, that’s right. Now I remember, You said kindly, “Would you mind coming a bit closer please?” Then after the rescue was over, I think you gave me a daisy and a box of chocolates! I must have confused you with someone else… 😉

  3. Dampe

    Someone has to say it: the stick in Rowlands photo is the Blacklight Sharp One, by Sara Wagner of Sweden. Around 450 grammes of pure carbon fiber and the greatest little paddle in the world. Of course I’m not biased at all. Sara just happens to be a good friend of mine and her paddle is the only one I would ever think of using :0)
    Go to blacklightpaddles.com and check it out for yourselves…

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