PADDLING FOR CLEANER SEAS
Cat Friend from Norfolk has become the first person to circumnavigate the 555km coastline of Mallorca on a Stand Up Paddleboard – raising awareness of coastal pollution and funds for conservation projects along the way.
Along with her friend Valerie Bisbal, the pair left Port Soller on June 1 and faced a gruelling journey which saw them battle thunderstorms, dangerous lightening and strong headwinds as well as taking its toll physically on their bodies.
Cat, who has a degree in biological sciences from Edinburgh University, took up sailing while she was a pupil at the Norwich School and in 2011, she represented Great Britain in the ISAF team racing championship. Remarkably though, she only took up paddleboarding last year.
The expedition created a large international following on social media and the girls were recognised around the island with followers even escorting them in boats across the bays of Pollenca and Palma where the busy shipping lanes caused a few scares.
They raised more than £7,000 for Balearic marine conservation charity Asociacion Ondine. “Sadly, it’s not possible to be active in the sea without acknowledging the ocean plastic crisis”, says Cat, from Sprowston. En-route each girl carried 20kg of kit in dry bags and seven litres of water, as well as safety and camping equipment and food, as supply teams couldn’t meet them every day. Each morning they would clean the beach they slept on, picking up huge amounts of plastic and litter.
“Finding so much litter on the beaches just spurred us on for the next paddle. If we can get people to see what we are doing and ask why then we’re getting everyone to think about plastic and the health of our oceans.”
Cat Friend and Valerie Bisbal