THE GREENLAND TO SCOTLAND CHALLENGE
This summer, British explorers Olly Hicks and George Bullard completed the world’s first documented crossing from Greenland to Scotland by kayak. The expedition came in at over 1,200 miles in around 6 weeks, including 12 nights at sea.
Wearing dry suits and Bremont Supermarine S500s, Hicks and Bullard set out in June for Iceland from Greenland in a slightly modified Inuk Duo 7.4m sea kayak. The kayak, made of carbon fibre reinforced with Kevlar for ice protection, was equipped with a special cockpit design that can be sealed allowing the paddlers to squeeze inside to safely rest and sleep while at sea.
THEY DID IT!! GREENLAND > ICELAND > FAROE ISLANDS > SCOTLAND > DONE!
On Sunday 4th September 2016, Olly and George completed the Greenland to Scotland Challenge. This is the culmination of over two months of paddling and years of planning.
The boys are exhausted but happy! Stayed turned for an interview with Olly and George when they return England.
MADE IT TO NORTH RONA - 29TH AUGUST
After 65 hours of paddling with no more than 3 hours sleep, Olly and George have made it to North Rona.
The island has very few places to land so they had a few hours sleep last night, just off the coast of the island and then attempted to land in the day light. The tracker now shows that they are on dry land. We are all very happy about this.
They will rest now, they must be exhausted and then think about the final push home. The weather isn't looking good so they could be there for some days now. They will prioritise finding fresh water as they only have enough for a few days. The final leg to the mainland will take them around 12 hours - when we know an ETD or any other update, we'll let you know.
Even though this leg doesn't have an ominous sounding name like 'The Devils Dancefloor' it is proving to be one of the hardest.
A MESSAGE FROM THE NORTH ATLANTIC - 28TH AUGUST
We have just heard from Olly and George. They have been paddling for 40 hours and have covered half the distance from The Faroes to Scotland - the current weather window gives them just 31 hours to cover the same distance. Any of those mathematicians out there can work out that this is not ideal news.
As of 30mins ago, the boys have changed course and are heading to the small island of North Rona. They are then reviewing the weather later today - if this current window extends then they will change course back to the mainland. If not, they will land on North Rona and take refuge there until the conditions change.
Keep Olly and George in your thoughts today, it is hard out on the sea and with the added pressure of making big decisions, it cannot be much fun for the moment. Especially as they are so looking forward to being home and seeing friends and family.
THE LAST LEG - 18TH AUGUST
A note from Olly:
The Faroese have a saying – Kańska – which means the land of maybe – because here everything depends on the weather… as we’ve been finding out… sadly our weather window to make the 200NM voyage to Scotland has evaporated – it closed out late last night as we made final pre departure checks – the boat was loaded and in the water, we were kitted up but a final weather check showed it would not be wise to launch into deteriorating conditions.
So we wait again, we must be patient, as there does not look to be a decent 72hr weather window for at least 10 days – as far as forecasts really stretch.
So for now we watch the weather ready to launch again – the boat is ready to go and we are raring to complete the expedition as soon as weather permits!
TAKE 2 - 1ST AUGUST
Olly and George have, in the last hour, set off from Iceland to The Faroes. This is their second attempt at this 280mile crossing, having been forced to suspend their last attempt due to bad weather.
They are on great form, however they are nervous. They now know what to expect out there, having spent 36 hours on the sea on their previous attempt. The winds are predicted to be behind them on this attempt so they are looking to get the sails up, these will help them speed along.
The best place to keep an eye on their progress is on their tracking site – they update straight from the boat.
AN INTERVIEW WITH OLLY & GEORGE - 12TH JULY 2016
What progress have you made so far?
340 miles since starting in Greenland on 1st July.
Are you on track/where you thought you’d be at this point?
Yes we're in good shape progress wise - now looking like we will be held up by weather later this week, so trying to get around the North Eastern corner of Iceland before the weather closes in!
Have there been any unforeseen challenges you have encountered?
We have broken the fins on the kayak a couple of times, which makes it hard to steer, but now we've fixed them! Also some very tough landings through the surf onto rocks - which is tricky with a 200kg fully laden kayak! Good weather crossing from Greenland to Iceland though and temperatures have been ok so far.
How is your Supermarine performing so far and what kind of conditions have you and it been subjected to?
Really well! Although submarine would be a more apt name as the watch, like us, is almost continually immersed in freezing saltwater!
How important is timing for you and George on an expedition of this nature?
Timing is incredibly important - we have to time our paddling sessions, normally a 5min break in every hour and a 20 min break every 4hrs. It's also important to track time due to 24hr daylight which can be confusing.
How are you finding the conditions on the kayak?
Conditions in the kayak are generally very difficult and unpleasant. Very wet or submarine are the norm and cramped conditions make it uncomfortable to be in for a long time - especially overnight sessions. Very hard to do anything in the kayak other than paddle! I.e. communicating / eating / navigating are all challenging.
What is your exact location right now and have you passed the devil’s dance floor?
We are currently in Tungalending near Husavik waiting to leave when the weather improves. We had to repair the fins we broke...
Is there anything in particular you’re worried about for the rest of the trip?
Yes the dance floor looms large over us - very intimidating and such a long leg - we just have to wait for a great weather window in order to cross safely. Also we need to keep the kayak safe and undamaged as we navigate around the rest of the rocky Icelandic coastline.
If you could have a cup of tea right now what kind of tea would it be?
Liquorice and camomile for George. Yorkshire Tea for me.
THE TIMEPIECE OF CHOICE...
The Supermarine S500 and S2000 are Bremont divers watches inspired by our aviation principles. Each maintains the Bremont DNA with an anti-magnetic Faraday cage encasing the beautifully finished chronometer-tested BE-36AE movement, as does the patented anti-shock case mount. The S500's 43 mm case can withstand depths of up to 500 metres - although it has been tested far deeper, while the sapphire bezel offers extraordinary luminosity in low light conditions. The 45mm case of the S2000 has been re-engineered to withstand a depth of 2000 metres. Both cases also have an automatic helium escape value for professional diving requirements.