Cross channel challenge in a canoe

WITH just a paddle each to propel them, three friends from Suffolk are about to embark on an unusual and gruelling challenge.The trio are planning a trip across the English Channel, from Dover to Wissant, just west of Calais, dodging ships in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes -in open canoes.

WITH just a paddle each to propel them, three friends from Suffolk are about to embark on an unusual and gruelling challenge.

The trio are planning a trip across the English Channel, from Dover to Wissant, just west of Calais, dodging ships in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes -in open canoes.

The friends will set off when conditions are right at some point between October 5 and 9 to paddle the journey of around 25 miles.

Simon King, 44, from Felixstowe will be joined by Dave Truzzi-Franconi, 59, from Woodbridge and Steve Seinet-Martin, 52, from Ufford near Woodbridge, to raise money for East Anglian Children's Hospices (EACH).

Mr King, a nurse at the Ipswich branch of EACH for the last eight years, said the trio were excited about the challenge and believe they may be the first to try it in an open canoe.

He said: “I can't wait, we are really looking forward to it. We all love paddling. We regularly paddle on the Deben, the Orwell and the Stour. We have paddled round the Isles of Scilly as well as the Norwegian fjords to gain more open water experience.

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“But the Channel will be our biggest challenge yet, we are taking the canoes out of their natural environment, they are really designed for rivers and lakes.

“This is paddling at the limits of what is possible in open canoes, however, we are experienced, and so while it will depend on conditions on the day we believe it's feasible.”

An experienced pilot, who has tracked various cross channel attempts by kayaks and swimmers, will be on hand as well as an escort vessel and crew.

Mr King has set up an online fundraising page www.justgiving.com/opencanoechannelcrossing, where people can pledge their online support.