Chalkwell Redcaps

Chalkwell Redcaps

Monday, 10 October 2011

In the beginning..... By Lorraine Rate

Well, I guess this is where it all started.  All of us at some point or other have stared out over this stretch of water past the Ray seals towards Kent.  The Ray seals gather on a sand bank that is only visible when the tide goes out and what a lovely picture it makes.  But way beyond that, is All Hallows in Kent, 7k away.

"So, who fancies swimming across to the other side and back then?"  Whoever was it that first asked that question, I can't remember?

Simple question, but a difficult challenge.  The stretch of water is very tidal, fast flowing in from the North Sea as it enters the Thames Estuary.  When the tide is fully out, it's just miles of mud flats that are visible with the odd water pools here and there.

Wouter - bang in the middle of the Shipping Lane !
But when it's in, its a different story.  A 500 metre wide stretch of water bang in the middle occupies, on a daily basis, a very busy shipping lane.

The fact that it's very tidal makes the 7k race across to the other side seem almost impossible.  A 3 hour maximum window to get there.  Easy, you might think. Most of us can cope with 7k in 2 hours!  But could you cope with it if it was pushing you towards London.

Could you cope with it if it was choppy?  What about how cold it is?  And what about the 500metre sprint you are going to have to do right bang in the middle to escape the shipping traffic?  And more importantly, if you do get across in one pace, are you going to have the stamina, strength and ability to get back again before the mud flats re appear?

So that's it.  The Redcap Challenge.  We are calling it 'Six Swimmers, Six Hours - Only One Tide'.

We've just had our first meeting and it was intense.  We are all fully aware of the task and dangers we are undertaking.  Volunteers are coming forward from all over to assist the thirteen swimmers that have put their name forward for this challenge.  Safety is paramount.  We need qualified crew for every kayak as it will be a one kayak, one swimmer ratio.

Health and safety - tidal conditions - radio control - nutrition - the training plan - the best time to go - fundraising - the charities - everything was thrashed around the table for the initial meeting.

So, it's official. WE ARE GOING TO DO IT.  Sometime in July onwards 2012.

Two charities will benefit from this challenge.  The RNLI and Essex Search and Rescue.  The donation pages have been set up which can be found at the top right of this blog.   And we already have a live interview set for 30 October 2011 with Southend Radio, 105.1, (programme starts at 11.00a.m.), where Ben Jaques and Lorraine Rate will talk about the challenge.  The training plan is in place, the volunteers are gathering, the sponsorship ideas are coming forward, and now here is the blog.  We hope to make this an epic diary of all the trials, traumas and elations of all those involved in this challenge.

Over the next year, we will all be posting our stories whether it be on the difficulties of sorting out the navigation of such a challenge or whether it be just simply what suffering the swimmers are encountering during their training.

But for now, here's a taster of how tidal our waters get in Southend-on-Sea.  This is Ben Jaques and Wouter Van Staden conquering an expedition to the Mulberry Harbour which sits about 2k out at sea.  Turn your music up and enjoy his never never ending final leg of the Mulberry Harbour swim.  Brilliant.

And just to prove how dedicated we are to our cause, and to ensure we don't let our supporters down, we even train (sort of) in the snow.  Again, music up and enjoy.

Please, if you have read this far and appreciate the difficulty of our forthcoming challenge, post this to your facebook page.  Please advertise our fund raising pages as much as possible in order that we can ensure that a very large amount of money is successfully raised for our chosen charities.  Thank you.

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