Firefighters to kayak coastline for charity

From left, Phil Terry, RNLI crew member, Perry Dodgson, firefighter at Havant and Mark Pannell, watch manager at Hayling Island

From left, Phil Terry, RNLI crew member, Perry Dodgson, firefighter at Havant and Mark Pannell, watch manager at Hayling Island

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GUTSY firefighters will battle the elements to paddle their way around Hayling Island.

In the name of a good cause, a team of up to 50 fire personnel, as well as RNLI volunteers, will kayak around the entire coastline.

At first glance, it sounds like it could be a jolly day out on the water.

But it will be gruelling.

The kayakers will have to cope with strong tidal currents and the wind on the 14-mile route.

Mark Pannell, 44, watch manager of Hayling and one of the organisers, said: ‘I was interested in doing a fundraising event and I said “I wouldn’t mind kayaking round Hayling”.

‘We got together with the RNLI and we came up with this event on June 16.

‘There will be 50 kayakers – mainly fire service personnel and people involved with the RNLI. If there any places left we will open it up to the general public.

‘I have kayaked half way round and this is something I would like to do.’

Organisers hope to make it an annual event.

Proceeds from sponsorship will go to Hayling RNLI and The Fire Fighters Charity.

The kayakers will start their journey at Sandy Point at 8am on June 16, paddling north up Chichester Harbour, then under Hayling bridge, down Langstone Harbour and into the open sea, before returning to Eastoke.

Nigel Roper, event co-ordinator at Hayling RNLI, will be making sure everyone is safe by laying on a support boat.

He said the jury was still out on how long the journey would take.

‘That’s the 65 thousand dollar question,’ he said.

‘It depends on how fit they are and what type of kayak they have. These plastic kayaks are not the easiest thing to paddle. They can be quite hard work.

‘Theoretically it could be done in two hours, but I think most people will do it in three or four hours. There are some strong currents both in and out of Langstone and Chichester Harbour. The biggest challenge will be the seafront as it’s the open sea.’

Anyone wishing to sponsor the team can email mark.pannell@hantsfire.gov.uk or perry.dodgson@hantsfire.gov.uk.

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