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Land's End to John O'Groats in an RS Aero

by Sarah Desjonqueres 12 Jan 2017 10:57 GMT 7 May 2016
Ken Fowler, Vice Commodore of Highcliffe Sailing Club, will attempt to sail an RS Aero from Land's End to John O'Groats © Giles Fletcher

7th May 2017 will be a very big day for one brave dad and his 13ft dinghy. Ken Fowler (51), Vice Commodore of Highcliffe SC will be attempting to sail an RS Aero, a dinghy no larger than 2 bath tubs (and just as wet), all the way from Land's End to John O'Groats, (over 900 miles). His aim is to complete this trip in a record time and raise £50,000 in aid of 2 cancer charities very close to his heart - Cancer Research and Oakhaven Hospice Trust. It's a big target, but he hopes that with the support of fellow sailors he can reach that target.

His motivation for the challenge is a personal one. "Dealing with Cancer is probably the biggest challenge anyone can face. Having seen its devastating impact on so many of my family and friends lives," he explains, "I really wanted to help the fight against Cancer by taking on this epic journey. I'm just an ordinary bloke, in a very small boat, trying to do something extraordinary – life's too short not to – so help me achieve something amazing."

This incredible challenge will take Ken across some of the wildest seas and coastlines in Great Britain, in the smallest dinghy ever to have undertaken this journey.

With waves potentially bigger than his boat, he will be sailing for up to 12 hours a day non stop for over 20 days. The aim is to be not only the smallest single-handed dinghy to make this journey, but also the fastest – hence "Race To Scotland". His route will take him up the West coast of Britain including crossing the Bristol Channel, Cardigan Bay and across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. He will then be working his way through the islands on the scenic Scottish west coast, before taking on the terrifying Cape Wraith. The final leg will take him across the top of Scotland to the ultimate destination of John O'Groats.

The adventure will be exhausting with many challenges from storms, whirlpools and surf battered beaches to dealing with any broken gear. It will demand unimaginable physical and emotional tenacity, but he has been planning this for nearly a year now and is being kindly supported by RS Sailing who are helping ensure his RS Aero is ready for this epic trip. Kind help has also been given by Garmin, Grapefruit Graphics, Yellow Brick, Wolfden Creative and Polar Digital. Good friend and ex-Highcliffe SC Commodore, Ian Pike and his wife, Jane, will be land crew support for the length of his trip, following Ken along the coast in his 20 year old VW camper van. For the most part he will be alone at sea, hopefully enjoying the beauty of the British Isles, but more likely tackling what the wind and weather Gods have decided to dish up.

Ken himself has an adventurous spirit. He has already cycled across the United States - 4000 miles from West to East and has cycled around Ireland, Wales and great swathes of England. "Race To Scotland" is by no means his first crazy sailing challenge – in June 2015 Ken completed a non-stop marathon single-handed sail around the Isle of Wight in his 14ft Laser, raising over £5,000 for Cancer Research and Oakhaven Hospice. This outstanding feat earned him runner up last year in Yachts & Yachting magazines Achievement of the Year category.

For interested parties, most notably his wife Fiona(!), you can follow his journey live on the internet at www.racetoscotland.co.uk where a GPS tracking device (kindly donated by Yellow Brick) will be giving 15 minute updates on his exact location. There will be on-board footage and a video diary from the trip on the website and you can follow the build up to the event on Facebook and twitter

Ken would be most grateful if any local sailing clubs would keep an eye on him as he passes and if they are able to offer any assistance or send out some friendly sailors to sail along with him then please contact him at . He is always looking for any companies that might be interested in supporting his adventure either on the water, via media or photography or simply donating to these great causes. You can donate to the trip here or if you are able to help with any equipment, support boat, accommodation etc then please contact him at .

So following on from the enormous success of our sailors at the Olympics, it is now our turn to support an 'average dad' on a crazy sea sailing adventure all in the name of charity (and a little bit of fun we hope). So while you are cheering on Ben Ainslie in Bermuda, don't forget our 'local hero' taking on his Race To Scotland to help the fight against Cancer.

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