Duo beat strong winds to reach IOW in an blow up raft

EXHAUSTED Tony Etherington, left, and Ryan Webb after crossing the Solent in an inflatable kayak
EXHAUSTED Tony Etherington, left, and Ryan Webb after crossing the Solent in an inflatable kayak
HMS Diamond

Picture: Shaun Roster/www.shaunroster.com

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WHAT started as a joke among friends quickly turned into a gruelling three-hour trek across the Solent.

When Ryan Webb and Tony Etherington were discussing people who had rowed across the Solent in kayaks, they didn’t expect to be taking on that exact challenge the very next day.

What made the pair’s venture more challenging was they decided to fight the waves in an inflatable raft.

Ryan, 28, from Southsea said that he had always wanted to take part in a big challenge, and this was his opportunity.

He said: ‘We literally came up with the idea in the pub the night before.

‘We were discussing challenges that people had done and I mentioned to Tony about my inflatable kayak, so thought we’d just go for it.

‘It was all very spur of the moment.’

The duo, who had no previous experience in rowing, set off from behind the Pyramids centre towards the Isle of Wight.

Battling the ever-changing currents and strong winds, the novelty of the task wore off quickly as the pair realised how physically demanding the task would be.

‘At one point we were rowing at a right angle to battle the wind, making sure we didn’t end up in the middle of the channel,’ said Ryan.

Three hours later, physically and mentally exhausted, the pair disembarked at Southview, Isle of Wight.

Ryan said: ‘It was a really fun experience and once we got to the other side we had people saying to us that we could be the first people to have done the crossing in an inflatable raft.

‘There was always that worry in the 
back of our minds that the kayak would deflate and we would have to swim back to land.

‘The last third was really tough as we were exhausted but we just persevered. We each took a beer with us and said we weren’t allowed to crack it open until we had reached the other side.

‘We supported each other the whole way, giving words of encouragement, and it was great to see that carrot of land dangling in front of us.’