Bristol Channel Kayaking with the Turner Twins

In an eventful few days for Channel Kayaks we have been really excited to support the Turner Twins in their recent Sport Relief Triathlon challenge. For those not familiar with brothers Hugo and Ross, they are intrepid modern day adventurers who have taken on huge challenges, from rowing across the Atlantic to negotiating some of the world’s most extreme environments. In the process they have raised a small fortune to support research on spinal injuries and other charity work, not to mention providing key data for university research. Indeed, these young men can be described as both heroes and human guinea pigs, often in the same sentence!

In the light of their past efforts, would a triathlon be a walk in the park for our intrepid brothers? They had already run a half marathon by the time we met them on the edge of the Bristol Channel. Conditions were fine and sunny but, as any experienced angler or boatman will tell you, the huge tides and fearsome currents of the area mean you can’t take anything for granted.

We lined up two of our yellow Pro Kayaks, that were picked for their great balance and reliability. These are craft we rely on regularly, as they are the best of kayaks for the sea. That said, it’s not every day you lend kit to famous adventurers to take on a big challenge!

It was to be an interesting encounter with the twins, as we got a little window into their world. Piece by piece, you see where their huge spirit, energy and determination come from. One source are parents Mr and Mrs Turner, always ready with a positive word (or a bordering-on-unrepeatable joke).

What really strikes you most about the twins is their calmness, good humour and humility. Without any fuss, they simply get on with things most of us wouldn’t dream of, taking on a major endurance challenge with the coolness of a man going down to Spar for a pint of milk.

They do have one particular vice though: the massed consumption of sweets! Jelly babies, Haribos… you name it, these chaps consume a serious amount to boost blood sugar levels on a challenge. Perhaps pushing your body to the limit isn’t all sacrifice after all?!

The Coastguard were also out with us as the twins set off for the opposite shore. A good lesson in itself this; even if you are a capable and experienced athlete, it is vital to take precautions and plan ahead.

In no time at all though, Ross and Hugo were paddling away, becoming tiny yellow dots beneath the vast frame of the Severn Bridge. Would they make it to the other side without a hitch?

Driving quickly to the landing point on the Welsh side of the water, the Channel Kayaks team raised flags as markers and studied the horizon for the twins. Their pace had barely slackened as we saw them making for the shore. For most mortals, it would have been a strenuous and nerve-wracking trip. For the twins it was almost too easy!

“Like a dream,” was how Ross described the trip. Perfect weather helped. Had it been strenuous?
“After the half marathon -and with a 35 mile cycle ahead- it’s actually quite nice to give the legs a break and work your arms for a bit!”

Inevitably, more Haribos then came out, along with some welcome bacon butties, with the twins continuing to answer questions and record little clips. I get the feeling that Ross and Hugo are relieved to do what they do best and crack on with each challenge, getting away from the unending stream of social media. Still, it’s a necessary evil if you want to get your message out and inspire others, even if you happen to be modern day adventurers! They also very kindly signed one of our kayaks, which is sure to be treasured by a young kayaker taking up the sport:

And so it was time to say goodbye and wish them luck on their cycle to Cardiff- although we suspected that they would have preferred more jelly babies and perhaps time for another round of bacon and coffee.

Another curious feature of Turner Twins adventures is their curiosity for old and dated gear. Quite often, they will toss a coin, with the loser having to use old fashioned kit rather than new stuff. This explains why our twins had very different cycling attire, with the short straw recipient getting an early 20th Century bicycle and matching outfit with tweed cap. Very dapper indeed!

All in all, it was a pleasure to meet two young men doing such inspirational things. We’re thrilled that the kayaks met their high standards and hope to see them again some time (they both like a spot of fishing, which could be another fun kayak challenge!).

If you’re curious about the brilliant Turner Twins, do take a look at their website and Facebook page for more on their great feats and the worthy causes they support.