British paddler Cat (Catherine) Friend and Mallorcan paddler Valerie Bisbal set off today to be the 1st people to be the first people to circumnavigate the Spanish Island of Mallorca (Majorca). The Soller to Soller expedition set off from Port Soller and they will paddle 555km (345 miles) in 21 days. The goal of the trip is to aim raise awareness of marine pollution and raise funds for Asociación Ondine helping conservation projects in the Balearic Sea and beaches of Mallorca.
Last year Asociación Ondine with the aid of 870 volunteers removed 2.2 tonnes of rubbish from Mallorca’s beaches and 600m of ghost nets (lost or left fishing net) from the surrounding seas. “Maintaining the seas and beaches around Mallorca is important to us”, says Valerie Bisbal. “It’s heart-breaking to see the damage to fish, dolphins and other marine life. Every day we see pollution in the sea and litter on the beaches which is why this project is important to all people wherever they are” explained Valerie to TotalSUP. All money raised will go to the Asociacion Ondine which works with government, business and local communities to enable conservation projects. The initial target is $15,000 (€12,000 / £10,000).
Cat and Valerie will be completing the Soller To Soller SUP Expedition on the Starboard 12’6 x 29 Touring SUP. A SUPthat balances speed and stability offering the most efficient glide for the two paddlers on their epic journey! This is amongst a handful of marine environmental campaigns that Starboard have been linked with recently, making a statement that the marine ecosystem is important to the brand.
Former sailor and Biological Science graduate Cat took up paddle boarding in 2016 after transitioning from sailing to SUP. Not short of sporting achievements Cat came 4th in the ISAF team racing World Championship for GBR and in 2013 she won the Wilson Trophy. Cat reflects on the transition to SUP “Paddleboarding has a simplicity to it that’s different to sailing, the repetition of the stroke is kind of meditative. Being on the board, you’re so aware of yourself – your balance and how every movement you make has a consequence”.
Mallorcan Valerie Bisbal has lived in Port Soller all her life. Married with 2 grown up children and a 5-year-old, she didn’t envisage being involved with a project of this scale. “My family has been so supportive, it has enabled me to concentrate on gaining support and driving local participation of sponsors and logistics,” says Valerie, “I spend a lot of time SUP paddling, SUP yoga and snorkelling, I constantly see the pollution. Helping projects to remove the waste is important to all of us”.
The journey around Majorca is a significant adventure, with many hazards to contend with, especially as the north coast of the island has a hostile range of cliffs, there are a very few places to land or shelter. Currents, winds, plastic debris, abandoned fishing nets, shipping lanes of cargo and ferries are also potential hazards they will have to negiotiate.
Paddlers Cat and Valerie started planning the journey in late 2017. They aim to portage more than 20kg, an extra element to consider when paddling. They have recently spent time planning all the the logistics, and have a refined plan in place to supply the adventurous two with food and water. They have training schedule that gets them out every day, as they will be standing on a SUP for up to 6 hours a day, regardless of wind, rain and currents, so stamina and fitness are important.
The scale of this journey puts it into expedition status. Cat and Val are looking for support to get them through. “If there is anyone on holiday in Mallorca in June, we would love them to join us for an hour or more, it would be great fun,” says Cat “you can find our whereabouts each day from our website”.
Good Luck Girls from TotalSUP!