Two women are first to paddleboard the 555km coastline of Mallorca creating a new world record.
The venture took 24 days and brought attention to the damage to oceans and the environment caused by plastics, has raised more than £7000 (€8000) for Marine Conservation.
Paddle Boarding around Mallorca raising money and awareness for Marine Conservation.
Cat Friend (British) and Valerie Bisbal (Mallorcan) have become the first people to circumnavigate the Spanish Island of Mallorca (Majorca) on a Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP). Previous attempts in 2015 failed.
Leaving from Port Soller on June 1st 2018 they paddled the 555km coastline in 24 days.
There were significant challenges to the expedition. The coastline is hostile in many places allowing few places to shelter when the weather turns rough. Unseasonal storms in the second week caused major problems for Cat and Valerie. Due to strong headwinds they only achieved half their target distance on some days. Thunderstorms caused more down time - lightening is not good mix with water when you are on a paddleboard.
Muscle burn, back and thigh strain caused them to contemplate on several occasions about their ability to achieve the goal. “On the seventh day we were quite downhearted” says Cat Friend, “the weather seemed against us, our bodies were suffering and camping overnight in poor conditions took its toll”. Having trained and committed themselves they pulled through and once the weather improved they caught up with the demanding schedule.
“We saw some stunning sights on the way” says Valerie “I have lived here all my life, but the chance to explore remote caves and coves was fantastic. We had clear blue bays, paddled with dolphins, manta-rays and in blooms of jellyfish”.
The expedition created a large following on Spanish, British and German social media, the girls were recognised around the island. Followers escorted them in boats across the bays of Pollenca and Palma where the busy shipping lanes caused a few scares.
The venture is in aid of Asociacion Ondine, a Balearic based marine conservation charity. The main aim is to raise awareness of the problems of plastic in the seas and oceans. Local schools have watched them and invited them to come and talk to the children about the expedition and cause.
“Sadly, it’s not possible to be active in the sea without acknowledging the ocean plastic crisis”, reflects Cat Friend, “Raising money for marine conservation was a natural fit”.
En-route each girl carried 20kg of kit in dry bags and 7 litres of water. Other equipment included safety, camping and food as supply teams could not meet them every day. Each morning they would clean the beach they slept on; plastic straws, lighters, bottle tops and bags were the most common finds. “Finding so much litter on the beaches just spurred us on for the next paddle. If we can get people to see what we are doing and ask why then we're getting everyone to think about plastic and the health of our oceans”.
Cat and Valerie completed the round the island trip to a large welcome in Port Soller where boats, yachts, canoes and paddleboards escorted them in to a crowd on the beach who had made the trip from around the island to welcome them. “It was an emotional welcome” says Cat, “we were overwhelmed by the impact we had created, we hope we have done our bit for Marine Conservation – at least for 2018”.
photo Getty Images
Photo: Rémy Gros