French duo set off from Gosport to kayak to Normandy for D-Day

Yannick Gerny, left, and Yoann Deschemaeker, who are kayaking from Gosport to Normandy 
Picture Ian Hargreaves (160837-3)
Yannick Gerny, left, and Yoann Deschemaeker, who are kayaking from Gosport to Normandy Picture Ian Hargreaves (160837-3)

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IT HAS been 72 years since thousands of people travelled across to Normandy to storm the beaches on D-Day.

Now, two French men are completing that same journey in a kayak.

It will be hard because it is our first time doing something like this.

Yoann Deschemaeker

Yoann Deschemaeker and Yonnick Gerny, from Normandy, were due to set off on the challenge at 9am today from Gosport.

The pair are expected to complete the 100-mile journey in 30 hours.

The two kayakers will be joined by a crew of six on yachts which will help them make the journey across the English Channel.

Yoann, 37, said: ‘We are excited to get going. We have been training since January and we have waited long enough.

‘We were delayed twice because of the weather so we are ready to go.’

Yoann and Yonnick will be in a two-man kayak as Yonnick, 50, is blind. In the past, Yoann has been his guide in different sports and Yonnick wanted him there to help him.

He said: ‘Yoann will be my eyes. He is a kayak instructor and has been taking part in the sport since he was seven.

‘I have not kayaked that much before but I have a passion for fitness.’

Yonnick added: ‘Although we could not do the crossing on D-Day because of the tides, we wanted to mark its anniversary.

‘It was important to us.’

This is the first time either of the men have completed a challenge of this scale although Yonnick did cycle 745 miles last year.

Yoann said: ‘It will be hard because it is our first time doing something like this.

‘We will be staying awake throughout the whole journey which will be non-stop until we reach Trouville-sur-Mer.’

Experienced kayaker George Finch, from Lee-on-the-Solent, has been helping with the organisation of the challenge which started at Royal Clarence Marina, off Weevil Lane.