“Impossible…is not a word in my vocabulary” says Jordan Wylie, as he embarks on an epic challenge – The Great British Paddle 2020 – a full circumnavigation of Great Britain and a World Record attempt on a stand-up paddleboard in aid of Frontline Children. TotalSUP caught up with Jordan, a former British soldier, activist, extreme adventurer and a bestselling author, on the eve of his 2,000-mile SUP journey, to talk about this remarkable attempt that no one has ever successfully completed.
This extreme endeavour is supported by Blackfish Paddles, the official Paddle Sponsor of The Great British Paddle 2020.
Gareth Stevenson of UK Watersports Ltd, the Blackfish Paddles Distributor in Europe, said: “Blackfish Paddles Europe and Get On The Water UK are proud to be able to support Jordan on his challenge to paddle around the UK on a SUP. We wish him a safe and speedy journey and look forward to joining him on sections of his journey.”
David Smart, Founder of Blackfish Paddles, said: “We are excited to watch Jordan paddle around Great Britain. As a company of avid paddlers we will be watching his progress and will be with him virtually as he circumnavigates Great Britain. As a manufacturer of performance SUP paddles we are excited that he has chosen to use our paddle. We have tested our paddles in a wide range of conditions from the heat of the tropics to the cold of the arctic circle, from recreational paddling to professional racing. Jordan is following in the footsteps of some distance paddling legends: Karl Kruger, Norm Hann and Lincoln Dews all of whom have one thing in common – a love of paddling and a Blackfish Paddle. Your friends at Blackfish wish you good luck and remember to keep smiling!”
Hi Jordan, thank you very much for taking the time to join us for this interview. How are you coming to terms with the “New Normal”?
Thank you for taking an interest in my latest project too, it is much appreciated. To be very honest, I’ve always been someone that is always looking to ‘escape the ordinary’… anyway so I’m embracing the new world and the challenges it presents. I have always believed that where there is crisis there are also opportunities and for me lockdown has been a great chance to spend time with my 10-year old daughter, write a new book and also get to grips with technology – all those Skype, Zoom and social media meetings daily.
The COVID-19 global crisis has radically shifted our perspective and has redefined nearly every aspect of our lives. What’s your take on the world today?
As a former soldier and someone who has spent most of my life in remote, complex and hostile environments, I’m quite used to drastic changes at short notice and understand well what it takes to survive and flourish in uncertain times. The world is more connected than ever before right now and we live in a digital era. COVID-19 has shown us that things can change rapidly and tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. I really hope that the world starts to appreciate just how fortunate we all are to be here and starts taking care of the things that matter the most, such as family, the loved ones, the environment and the next generation.
The Great British Paddle 2020 is far more than just a World Record Attempt on a stand-up paddleboard. What are the drivers behind this epic challenge?
The world record and world first aspect of the project is actually quite low down the pecking order in terms of importance. For me personally, I want to inspire young people through the gift of education and the spirit of adventure. 18 months ago, I visited the Horn of Africa and was shocked to see how many children were displaced by war with no homes or families and really wanted to used my adventures to make a difference in the world. I made a promise to the children I met in the As’Ayla region of Djibouti that I would build them a school and I really must make sure this promise is not broken. The Great British Paddle is so much more than a SUP expedition, it’s a beacon of hope for those less fortunate and whatever happens, I will keep my promise and also do my best to successfully achieve what no person has done before (despite several attempts) on a stand-up paddleboard.
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The relentless pursuit of the extreme…What drives you to go where no one else has gone before and push physical and mental boundaries that haven’t been pushed before?
As you have referred to already, it’s about so much more than just adventure for me. When you see first hand what children experience in places like Yemen, Syria and Somalia, it is very difficult to just sit back and hope someone else will deal with the issue. My father always said to me that there are ‘talkers’ and ‘doers’ in this world, like my dad I want to be a doer and try to make a difference through positive action. As a fundraiser, it is a very competitive space, so you need to capture the imagination of the public and I have found that world first- firsts and world records are a great way to do that. Although it’s not of great interest to me to obtain a record, it is important to the public and the media which in turn directly impacts fundraising. Most things in this world have been achieved by some incredible people so when you find something that hasn’t been done yet, it normally means it’s very dangerous or impossible – which is not a word in my vocabulary…
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Could you tell us more about your partnership with Blackfish Paddles Europe supporting this great adventure with Blackfish paddles?
I am honoured to be working with Blackfish Paddles and especially Gareth Stevenson and the team in Cardiff, Wales. I had many offers of support and sponsorship from the SUP community and it was important to make sure I picked the right paddle partner for the monstrous task that I have ahead. Blackfish Paddles have a global reputation for excellence and are built on the principles of passion, quality and performance and these are all characteristics I can relate to personally and also the traits that will determine my success in The Great British Paddle 2020 both physically and mentally. The paddles also look incredibly cool so will make for some great photos! I’m sure to keep the public engaged and interested, which I’ve come to learn is very important these days!
Your attempt has already inspired the UK SUP community…Will there be an official send off and can paddlers join you along the way?
Looking at the current windows of opportunity and the situation in the UK with COVID-19, I think we are going to have a low profile launch off from Essex but we are going to encourage paddlers, swimmers, kayakers and more to join us daily when I find my rhythm and get underway, especially on the south coast of England where the sun is shining right now. I must stress though that we want to encourage safe and responsible use of our beaches and oceans and only those that are competent and safe should come along. For everyone else we have an excellent media team supporting who will be able to bring you the action. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram or by tracking me via The Great British Paddle.
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Thank you for your time Jordan and stay safe! We look forward to catching up with you along the way!
To track Jordan’s SUP journey and support his cause, visit www.thegreatbritishpaddle.com. Follow #TGBP2020 hashtag on social media