“Alison has been abusing the rowing machine – me, I don’t train, I rely on stubbornness”…By the sound of it, Allistair Swinsco and her partner Alison Rennie are ready to take on the biggest Stand Up Paddle Challenge of their life. Based in the North West of England, the non-stop travelling Anglo/Scottish SUP Endurance couple are about to embark to Australia to take part in the 404km Massive Murray Paddle race on a SUP tandem board. But before that, they will attend the 96km Great Glen Challenge across Scotland… All of the above in the name of love, fun, travels and charity. Double interview! (Photos: Algarve SUP & Birch Photography)
Hello Alison & Allistair. Can you give us a quick insight on your SUP story to this day?
After a lifetime in various water sports at all levels from dinghy sailing & windsurfing through to offshore racing I came to SUP after having a go at Scottish Windfest back in 2012 – I was instantly hooked and dragged Alison who had no water sports history along for the ride!
Preferring longer distance paddling & personal challenges I did a lot in 2016 with Dean Dunbar (Blind & Dangerous) and Ian Cormack (SUP Ecosse) some of the highlights were the 150km Argyll Sea Kayak Trail, the 24hr 3 Lakes Challenge & the Magnificent 7 (Scotland’s 7 longest lochs in 7 days).
Alison provided the much needed support for these and also competed with me in the Guadiana Challenge, Corinth Canal & Paris SUP crossing among others as well as our usual trips away exploring & SUP camping around the Scottish coastline – all done on our RedpaddleCo 13’2” Explorers
What SUP events have you attended this year?
2017 saw the introduction of the UK SUP Ultra Endurance Series which I committed to doing on my RedPaddleCo 12’ Race. Work and weather has kept us off the water for most of the year other than at the events which as well as the UK SUP ones have included the Guadiana & Trent 100.
A clash of dates meant that we could not make it out to Greece for the Corinth Canal race & our annual week of exploring the Greek coastline so the desire for some warm weather paddling saw the 404km Massive Murray Paddle get moved from the “would love to do one day” list to the “let’s make it happen” one and thanks to the amazing support of Royal Brunei Airlines for flights & RedPaddleCo for a board we will be there on the start line in a few weeks time.
What is the Massive Murray Paddle then?
The Massive Murray Paddle in Australia is a long-established 404km canoe & kayak race over 5 days from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill and this will be the first year that SUPs have entered. The aim of the race it to raise funds to assist local community driven programs. We have decided to raise funds for 2 charities, our local Great North Air Ambulance (they were there for me when I needed them) and for an Australian charity Red Dust Role Models who encourage indigenous youth to learn more about health & make healthy lifestyle choices through mentoring & role models in sport.
It will be a big challenge for us & by far the toughest to date paddling an average of 80km per day – for this event we have chosen the new 2018 RedPaddleCo Voyager tandem which will hopefully be arriving soon to give us a little time to practice.
But before that… The Great Glen Challenge
The last remaining event before Australia is this weekend – the final race in the UK SUP Ultra Endurance series – a 96km non stop race across Scotland along the Great Glen from Fort William to Inverness including the famous Loch Ness (hope the monster is kind to us).
I (Allistair) will again be doing this race as sighted guide for Dean Dunbar “Blind & Dangerous”. Last year the course was reversed due to the weather & gave us some epic downwinding conditions on Loch Ness in the pitch black – this year it looks like the never ending 36km of Ness will be at the end of the race and will surely be a big mental as well as physical challenge.