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Ken Fowler begins Yodare Challenge to reach £50,000 charity total

by Sarah Desjonqueres 7 Apr 17:18 BST
Ken Fowler's Yodare Challenge begins © Giles Fletcher

He views his next challenge as dealing with "unfinished business"; the niggling matter of a charity pot not quite filled during his previous sailing escapades, but whether it is as simple as that or something more complex, Dorset husband and father Ken Fowler is once more driven push the boundaries of dinghy sailing.

Not content with his award-winning epic sailing adventure in his tiny lightweight dinghy, Yoda, all the way from Land's End to John O'Groats two years ago and raising £37,000, the sailor and adventurer is back at the helm and taking on yet another challenge.

Ken's latest 'dizzy' exploit will see him attempt to sail 1,200 miles around 183 islands dotted all over England and Wales. Over the next two years, Ken will face the familiar dangers of single handed dinghy sailing miles off shore, along with the fresh challenges of negotiating 49 ft tidal ranges in the Bristol Channel and the incredibly shallow mudflats of the east coast of Britain.

The first sailor to ever take on this challenge, Ken has set himself this massive task in order to raise funds for Oakhaven Hospice and Cancer Research and finally reach the £50k target he set during his Race To Scotland journey in 2017. He says, "Cancer patients don't get to give up and neither will I. Oakhaven Hospice is so brilliant and so caring, I just want to match that dedication and give something back."

With 12 islands already under his belt, he has already encountered dense fog, a bridge so low he had to capsize the boat to get underneath it and fast receding tides nearly leaving him marooned on mud flats. As Ken takes on the more coastal islands, he will have to face the bigger dangers of giant over falls and wild coastal launching and landing sites with long days in the boat. Nothing he has not done before.

There are a couple of particular islands he is keen to tick off the list, most notably Lundy. After being 'assisted' by Tenby RNLI during his previous adventure, Ken hopes to return and conquer the island in early August. Our sea sailor is also very taken by the idea of sailing round the 14 islands of Windermere. With no tides, shallow bits, bridges, surf, whirlpools or shipping lanes to deal with it will almost feel like a pleasure cruise. Excitingly, he is also hoping to be joined by the Junior AB fleet of Parkstone Sailing Club on 19th May who intend to escort him around a few of the islands in Poole Harbour including Brownsea Island, Furzey island, Green island, Long island, Round Island, Giggers Island.

Top of the island list however lies at the very tip of England. The Scillies have always been on his 'to do list' in life and reflecting on this Ken says "The pictures of the Isles of Scilly look more like the Caribbean than the UK and with that many stunning islands and beaches it will be a dinghy island sailors dream - weather permitting!" Hopefully, he will get his wish as he heads off to meet this challenge in mid-May of 2020.

Ken is supported in his challenge by an array of kind sponsors, Rooster, Overboard, Morgan Sails and Zest boatworks have kitted him out and set the boat up, Grapefruit and Wolfden creative have covered Yoda in artwork and built the website www.yodare.co.uk, SolRX, Halcyon Yachts and ICOM have made sure he won't burn in the sun or get lost with no contact and and YB tracking have provided him with a full live tracker so that we can follow his journey on the 'Where's Ken' button on his website.

Ken hopes to complete the task by summer 2020, making the last island he sails around a return to the location of his first ever sailing adventure, and the closest island to home, the Isle of Wight. He hopes that, unlike arriving at John O'Groats after his gruelling 35 days with only his support team of two waiting for him, he can arrive back in Mudeford Harbour triumphant and fall exhausted into the embrace of his family. The icing on the cake of course, would be to have reached that £13,000 target (thus £50,000 in total).

Follow Ken's journey via his website www.yodare.co.uk or on twitter @goyodare or via Facebook Yodare.

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