Participation and fundraising surge at annual kayak event

BEST EFFORT Janet Rye, front, completed the event for a third year and won an award for her feat
BEST EFFORT Janet Rye, front, completed the event for a third year and won an award for her feat
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A charity kayak event round Hayling Island had a bumper number of participants this year.

Seventy one brave kayakers – nearly double the number from last year – set off to paddle round Hayling in aid of the RNLI and the Fire Fighters Charity.

The annual event, organised by the Havant Fire & Rescue service and Hayling RNLI station, has raised more than £10,000 since it started in 2012.

This year’s total is set to reach the £8,000 mark, with sponsorship money still to come in.

Event organiser Mark Pannell said: ‘The start was spectacular and the event goes from strength to strength.

‘I was so proud of all who took part and grateful to those who worked to make this so successful. We look forward to next year’s event.

‘The RNLI crew members in their own boats who were supporting us were brilliant and had a busy day.

‘We are so grateful to them and to Jules Hewson for organising this help.’

Fine and sunny at the start, the south- westerly wind was quite benign but soon increased, setting an immediate challenge as the kayakers headed across Hayling Bay.

As they turned into Langstone harbour, they gained the tide and wind with them and sped up to the top of the island, but then it got much harder and many struggled against a headwind down to the RNLI station.

One kayak was swamped just north of Hayling Island Sailing Club but was rescued by a moored boat belonging to the aptly named John Pickup, who picked up the kayaker and kayak, emptied it out, and put him back on his way to the finish. Many others had a partial rescue, a rest and then continued.

The best effort awards went to 64-year-old Janet Rye, who completed the event for the third time after recovering from a broken wrist last year, and Gemma Cripps, who completed two legs of the course even though she was pregnant. The most sponsorship award will go to the Lift and Shift team led by Mike Baulch who, with two others, raised more than £5,000.