Schoolgirl hoping for fair weather in kayaking quest

12:00pm Saturday 5th July 2014

By Sam McGregor

SCHOOLGIRL Eleanor Ackroyd is hoping to break a record by kayaking more than 100 miles along England’s south coast in 24 hours.

But the challenge is even more difficult for the 15-year-old because she’s only been kayaking a few times before.

Not a complete sailing novice, Eleanor has been lake dinghy sailing at Great Moor sailing club, at Calvert, near Bicester, for the past three years, but ocean sailing will be far tougher.

She will set sail with estate agent Colin Barton, an experienced sailor who owns the boat, this summer.

During the trip – some of which will take place at night – they will face treacherous tidal rips, small sharks and will have to cross a busy shipping lane.

From now on, the pair will be looking for the right “weather window” before they can take to the open sea, as they cannot secure a date until they know conditions are right.

Bicester Community College pupil Eleanor, of Bicester, said: “I am very excited although I am also a little apprehensive about the length of time we will be on the water and the physical exertion as well as the amount of shipping traffic we will encounter. I am very excited about the possibility of setting a record as this will be a huge personal achievement.”

Her training has included gym work on a cross trainer, trips down to Southampton to get used to the choppier sea water, as well as learning about basic navigation, chart reading and the on-board safety gear.

The teenager hopes the record bid will raise cash towards a £3,800 target to join an organised expedition to Peru next year with fellow BCC pupils to take part in community and environmental projects.

Eleanor and Mr Barton, a partner in estate agent’s firm Barton Fleming, in North Street, Bicester, teamed up after she contacted his firm for sponsorship earlier this year.

They will paddle about 108-miles from Weymouth to Eastbourne in the 18ft long American-made Hobie Tandem Island class.

Mr Barton says the longest known distance achieved by a craft of this type is 75 miles and that was between islands in Hawaii.

He said: “Although the water Eleanor will be sailing through is populated by sharks, it is understood that they pose no credible risks to humans. The risks from exposure, foul tides or a turn in the weather are much greater.”

Mr Barton believes completing the trip could set a record for the type of craft.

Eleanor kickstarted her fund raising last month at Bure Park School’s summer fete where she raised £176.

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