Dragon Boats across the Channel

Latest News. 10/7/97

Karen Trotter rang in on Thursday to tell us that the two Dragon Boats, their trailer and the Land Rover pulling them had been involved in a motorway crash. Luckily no one suffered serious injury but the boats were damaged and the car will be a write-off. Karen and her husband Dan, both well known expedition paddlers were in the Land Rover when it rolled, Dan has got some great pic's on his digital cam corder! Perhaps he should change his name to 'Beadle'!

(Steve's at it again!) in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Steve MacDonald seems unable to resist a challenge, after kayaking around the coastline of the British Isles last year you would expect Steve to have seen enough water but he's at it again! With another Merseyside adventurer, Derek Beauchamp, the pair have become entangled in an attempt to paddle a Dragon Boat across the English Channel. Forty other paddlers have responded to the call and this will be a Dragon Boat 'first', no other crew have managed to cross the Channel in this way before.

Both Derek and Steve are both visually impaired - Derek is a guide dog owner and Steve has been registered blind from birth, however both of these adventurers are determined this event will succeed. Four other visually impaired paddlers will be in the crew for this adventure, with 36 other team members comprising both experienced paddlers and enthusiastic amateurs from UAP Provincial Insurance Company, the event sponsors. All participants are not just doing this for the adventure, they will also be raising money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Two teams of 22 paddlers will take to the water, with Derek and Steve amongst the most experienced.

For Steve this will be a short excursion compared to the major expedition he undertook to be the first blind person to circumnavigate Britain by kayak. commenting on the imminent challenge Steve said "I am convinced that we can achieve the crossing and have no qualms about taking to the water in such a strange vessel - after all Dragon Boats have been around for hundreds of years"

Derek, 65, is also something of an adventurer. He has taken part in the 'Three Peaks Challenge', done a free-fall parachute jump with the Red Devils and is a keen downhill skier. Derek reckons that time will be the deciding factor when taking their Dragon Boat across the Channel, he said "The aim is to make the crossing in under 5 hours - and to achieve this we need the winds in our favour. Everyone is training hard and I think we've all been surprised at the team spirit that has already been generated, if sheer will is anything to go by then we'll be in France before we know it!"

Dave Bangs, the National Coach for the Dragon Boat Racing Association is coaching the crew and commented "We have a mix of experienced canoeists - both visually impaired and fully sighted, but there's no time for pecking orders. Everyone has an important role to play and is getting on with it - that's how a successful team achieves it's objectives, and I have no doubt we shall achieve ours."

Bluedome will be keeping in touch with Derek and Steve, we'll let you know how they go on, also nobody has said anything about how the paddlers plan to get back! Dragon Boats Across the Channel is due to launch from Dover and head for Calais in July, and aims to make the crossing in less than 5 hours.

The Boats have been provided by the Amathus Club, a Liverpool based club regitered with the British Dragon Boat Racing Association. This is just one of the many events going on to support the Guide Dogs for the Blind, later this year a group of 100 cyclists will pedal from St Peterburg to Moscow and in 1998 a group will be climbing Jabel M'goun, the second highest peak in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

If you would like more information about how to get involved then contact Nick Chetwood at the Guide Dogs for the Blind association on 01539 735080