02 August 2012

A point to ponder...

Back home at Mission Control we have been scratching our heads a little and asking ourselves why?

Now don't get too excited, we are not looking for the answer to the 'Ultimate Question' or suchlike (it's 42 anyway apparently). No, we have been wondering for a while now why 2012 has been such a significant year for that, until now, rare and elusive beast - the UK Sea Kayak Circumnavigator.

If you take a look at the figures (http://www.performanceseakayak.co.uk/Pages/UKCirc.html) you can see that so far in 2012 a total of 6 paddlers have completed the trip. That is as many as for the previous 10 years combined - assuming the PSK figures tell the full story of course. If the 'Land on Our Left' boys and the 'MidlifeKayak' gents complete too (and we don't see why they shouldn't) then that will lift the total to 11 this year - as many as in the previous 18 years totalled together.  If two more people were to complete the trip in 2012 then that would be as many completing in 2012 as for all previous years combined - impressive.

So from the sea kayaking point of view it may not be too melodramatic to argue that 2012 has been an historic year.

So why is this case? Well, I can't say that we have been able to come up with a definitive answer to that one unfortunately - which sort of knackers the whole post I suppose.

But a few thoughts anyway:

The weather surely? I doubt paddlers were spurred into action by the glorious 2012 weather; let's face it it wasn't a (glorious) summer at all. The nature of the event doesn't really allow the luxury of picking the best weather anyway, everyday life also has to be factored into the timing and planning. No, I don't think it was the weather that really swung people in to action...

The popularity of sea kayaking? Well there is no doubt that sea kayaking has been on the up for a good while now. You see more and more boats out on the water, the coaches continue to earn a living teaching sweep strokes and the manufacturers continue to build eyebrow raising numbers of boats on a weekly basis. Perhaps it shouldn't be a great surprise then that with all those people out there paddling that a few have set themselves such a challenge and have the wherewithal to set out - but why now?

The kit? I think this may be a significant part of the reason. In recent years the paddling kit has become much more advanced and useable. Drysuits and realistically waterproof paddling kit abound and to some extent have revolutionised the ability of paddlers to go out in (and enjoy) conditions and venues that in the past they may not have considered feasible. It is easier for limits to be pushed when you are warm and dry.

T'Internet? In recent years Internet forums and blogs have not only become popular but also influential. It is easy to forget that it is only a relatively short time ago that such things did not even exist. Now they can have a significant effect and influence on others, the sea kayaking world is not immune. People can easily tell others of their tales of derring-do and likewise paddlers can easily seek and find inspiration and ideas - 'if they can do that then why can't I?' A momentum builds.

The 'Legacy'? Oh yes, the good ol' Olympic Games have been credited with solving just about everything else at some stage. Perhaps it is possible that as people looked forward to the giant egg and spoon race down south that minds were concentrated and inspiration occurred - with a few deciding to go for their own personal gold medal.

If you are waiting for the punchy closing line to round it all off then I will have to disappoint; I wasn't misleading you when I said I didn't have an answer to the question.

But I figure coincidence was probably as significant factor as anything else, a number of things just fell into place for a number of people to make 2012 the year to go for.

If you have any thoughts then don't be shy.

As for me, well I chose 2012 just because I'm getting too old...




Anglesey Stick said...

And maybe Harry Piper http://www.justgiving.com/harry-piper

Anonymous said...

Its not as interesting as your blog but the answer may well be random statistical clustering and low sample size.

Mike Greenslade said...

Hi John. As a temporary member of Midlifekayak for the first few weeks I can only comment that it was an alignment of many of the factors you mentioned. Opportunity, seaworthy kit (esp items such as PFDs, PLBs and other TLAs), the knowledge that this was a demanding, yet achievable goal (brought about by the Internet) and a recent conversion to sea kayaking (none of us have been paddling more than three years). I guess that counts as a rise in popularity. But maybe it's also the case that modern working practices and lifestyle give us the ability to dedicate a significant amount of time to an arguably self indulgent adventure. The luxury of an affluent society perhaps?
Many congratulations on an outstanding achievement incidentally. The 'real' members of Midlifekayak are aiming to be home around 20 Aug.

Mike Greenslade

Summit to Sea said...

Perhaps people were following the Mayan Calendar and realised it was their last chance, as it won't be there next year?