PAD­DLING FOR CLEANER SEAS

EDP Norfolk - - THE MARDLER -

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

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