Wednesday 7 December 2016

Adventurer keen on round-the-world rowing trip after 1,200-mile kayak journey

Published 06/09/2016 | 13:01

Kayak adventurer Olly Hicks is keen on attempting to row around the world
Kayak adventurer Olly Hicks is keen on attempting to row around the world

An adventurer has set his sights on rowing around the world after completing a 1,200-mile kayak trip from Greenland to Scotland.

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Olly Hicks and George Bullard arrived at Balnakeil Bay in Durness in the Highlands on Sunday morning - more than two months after they set off on the challenge following the trail of historic Inuit hunters.

They were inspired by reading mysterious reports from the 17th century of "strange men" spotted off the coast of Orkney.

Theories at the time suggested the men were fishermen from Finland or prisoners escaped from transport boats, with the possibility of Inuit tribesmen from Greenland ruled out because of the distance.

However, artefacts preserved in Scottish museums, including hunting material and the remains of an ancient, skin-cover kayak, suggest the men may have paddled from Greenland.

Mr Hicks, 34, and Mr Bullard, 28, decided to test the theory for themselves.

Mr Hicks said: "That was the idea behind the whole project - that the Finnmen in the 17th century had been sighted.

"We were trying to raise awareness of the story ... basically we were trying to add fuel to the fire of speculation that the Inuit really could have paddled all the way from Greenland to Scotland three centuries ago."

The journey included a stretch of water between Iceland and the Faroes known as "the devil's dancefloor" while r ough seas and poor weather meant the pair had to take regular shelter en route, but they paddled 20 hours a day and sometimes through the night to make up the distance.

The London-based adventurers spent years preparing for the voyage, training on the River Thames and practising recovery methods in Devon and Cornwall, as well as training runs from Land's End to the Scilly Isles.

Mr Hicks is already working on his next project t o travel the world and, if successful, it will be the longest voyage ever undertaken in a rowing boat.

He believes it could take him up to two years and will set off from Tanzania next year with enough supplies for 250 days before restocking.

Despite preparing for a solo trip, he is hopeful of getting more people involved but is not afraid to go it alone.

"That's part of the appeal, part of the challenge," he said.

"We're actually looking into the possibility of turning it into a race and getting a few more people involved, and getting a four or five person race."

Mr Hicks admitted he had a "small ambition" to compete at an Olympic Games.

He joked: "I can tell you now, ocean kayaking is not going to catch on as a mainstream sport and it will never be an Olympic sport."

A documentary about the Greenland to Scotland Challenge is due for release in 2017.

Press Association

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