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In late April 2021, Devon-based lifeguard and water-safety campaigner Brendon Prince launched his SUP from Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay, to begin an unusual voyage, dubbed The Long Paddle. His mission was to make the first continuous circumnavigation of the British mainland by standup paddleboard (SUP), a total distance of over 4000 kilometres. On September 14th, he finally arrived back at his starting point after an epic journey lasting over four months, completing the challenge and making watersport history.
Directed by Will Reddaway, CIRCUMNAVIGATE: The Story Of The Long Paddle, documents Prince’s journey around mainland Britain – a feat that many have attempted, but none have ever completed.
The psychological effects of being involved in a valiant but ultimately tragic water rescue whilst on a surfing holiday saw lifeguard Brendon step up his efforts to raise public awareness of water safety on U.K coastlines. Spurred on by that pivotal moment in his life and the impact it had on him, the Devon-based father of three made the decision to dedicate his time to improving water safety education in U.K communities.
In 2019, Brendon left his long career in outdoor education, focussing on his work both as the chairman of a Devon-based surf lifesaving club, and as the founder of charity Above Water. The charity sends qualified teachers and lifeguards into schools, community groups and businesses to teach water safety, drowning prevention and lifesaving, including aquatic-related first aid.
The idea behind Brendon’s endeavour in 2021 was to draw attention to a cause close to his heart, water safety, by putting himself through the ultimate test.
Whilst there have been numerous circumnavigations of U.K coastlines by sea kayak, standup paddling presents an altogether different means of travelling across the open ocean. With a lower cruising speed than sea kayaks, paddleboards are considerably more affected by wind and swell. Brendon’s determination to prevent even just one life being lost saw him battle physically and mentally challenging conditions and testing waves in the course of his almost five-month long SUP mission.
The film, due to be released in full at the end of the year, is currently touring venues around the U.K with ticketed screenings, starting in Cornwall. For more information about screenings, the route itself and water safety charities like Above Water, visit The Long Paddle website.
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