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Skerries to Holyhead SUP Challenge


My uncle, Liam MacMahon, was the first person to windsurf from Ireland to the UK. He windsurfed from Skerries to Holyhead, approximately 102km (56m), back on July 1st 1983. Myself and three other fellas are attempting to make the same crossing this August on Stand Up Paddle boards. It's a big challenge and there's a lot of preparation involved, along with a big commitment. Our goal is to promote water safety, raise awareness and support for the RNLI and Coast Guard and to get people out on the water. You don't have to be a professional athlete or some kind of hero to do amazing things, we're just a bunch of average joe's with big ambitions. Who knows where the project will go, there will certainly be ups and downs, many challenges to overcome and lessons to be learned.

This blog will follow our progress for the six months leading up to the challenge and will include info on our training, equipment, personal reflection, plans, challenges and accomplishments. We hope you enjoy following our progress and we hope it might encourage you to get out on the water.

Current Situation

We've been training every fortnight since October, apart from December when we did nothing. We started out on whatever boards we had access to which included 9' and 10' crossover boards which are designed for floating about short distance and catching some waves. We also used some foam beginner boards from the school which definitely are not designed for distance! Initially we were doing distances around 7km around Skerries islands, then we paddled from Rush to Skerries or vice versa up to 10km. We have paddled from Skerries to Balbriggan and back 15km and last week from Bettystown to Balbriggan 15km. We got ourselves some cheapish second hand 14' raceboards which have made a big difference for training but are still quite heavy and more suitable to flat water, which we don't get very often in the Irish Sea!

The four of us are: Stephen Sherwin, John Kieran, Killian Walsh and Peter Carroll. None of us are champion athletes nor paddle aficionados. We love getting out on the water and this challenge is something we all are excited about. The next six months are going to test us all to the max. The blogs will be from each of us alternating so will provide different perspectives.

This entry is from me, Peter, and I'll give a bit of background about myself and my motivations for taking on this challenge. I've always been into water sports, I love being out at sea it's where I feel most comfortable and things make sense. I've been toying with the idea of doing this challenge for a few years but the timing wasn't right until this year. I love the story about my uncle Liam windsurfing across and it inspired me to do it. I seem to enjoy setting difficult challenges for myself, whether they are realistic or not. I thrive on them, and they seem to give a bit more meaning to me than running around everyday life. I often get confused in everyday life and wonder 'whats the point in it all?' but these challenges seem to make me feel free and give me some clarity. I guess part of me would like to inspire people that might feel a bit lost, or a bit fed up. It can be very tough to get through the downs that life sometimes throws your way, and to inspire anyone, even just one person, is a worthy cause. Stephen, John and Killian are the perfect team for the challenge, committed, creative, positive and a bit mad - you need to be!

As with every challenge, there is the possibility of failing to achieve the end goal. As a very wise man called Delboy once said "He who dares, Rodders, he who dares..."

Enjoy reading and don't hesitate to ask questions or give feedback.

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