Jim Parker: Brendon paddles his way to a new record and brings a whole new meaning to life on the English Riviera

Paddle board flotilla

Brendon and the flotilla - Credit: WR Photography LLP

The sun suddenly came out as if by order because something special was about to happen .

There were a few people on the steps of Torre Abbey Sands and the prom and bridge above. But the numbers were slowly but surely increasing. There was something in the air, something special was about to happen.

Then they suddenly began to emerge on the not too-far horizon. Dozens of people on paddle boards. Their very own flotilla with one man out in the middle and leading in the front. A speck in a white T-shirt which got bigger as the flotilla neared the beach where by now there were hundreds of people cheering and clapping.

Brendon Prince was home. That was the special moment we had all been waiting for and it was the special moment the former Torquay teacher had dreaming of as he virtually collapsed into the arms of his wife and children. It was the end of a long, world record-breaking journey.

He had completed the 2,500 mile (4,203km) challenge to circumnavigate Britain on his board in 141 days.

There were only 22 days in which he did not paddle due to the weather conditions. He had encountered the best of the British sealife. "Seeing orcas, sharks, seals and dolphins up close during my paddle has been phenomenal. We truly are blessed in Britain to have some of the most incredible and inquisitive wildlife you could wish for." he says.

A father of three, Brendon says that leaving his wife and children at home during this challenge has 'been so so tough but they have been such a huge support in this journey the whole way through'.

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The challenges Brendon faced during his SUP adventure were numerous and by paddling from beach to beach with no boat support meant that he faced the perils of making it into shore after each gruelling day too. Brendon's longest distance in a single day was 76km and his shortest was 2km.

"I am so pleased to have completed what many before me have attempted. Without those pathfinders though this would not have been possible. I am also incredibly thankful for the support from my family, support crew, friends and the whole Long Paddle family who have followed my journey the whole way," he says

“Physically, I feel ok but I am mentally done. Meeting up with my family and spending time with them is now priority number one. I’ve never been away from my family for this long and I’m so excited."

He added: “It is a big crowd [on the beach] and lots of people came out on the water with me, which was very special.” 

Behind the epic challenge is a story of determination spurred on tragedy.  Brendon's life changed when he was involved in a terrible drowning incident in Cornwall. He was an off-duty lifeguard at Mawgan Porth beach  in October 2014 when  three people drowned. He pulled two people from the water but was unable to save their lives.

Ever since then he has preached the need for people, especially youngsters, to know how to be safe in the sea and water.

The challenge will help with the creation of a special water safety app to help schools particular to be better equipped in educating children on how to use the sea and inland waterways more safely.

He says: "This paddle and the world records I have achieved are awesome but the most important part of this whole adventure has been and will remain to be to spread the important message of water safety and drowning prevention."

Brendon has also achieved something else without probably being aware. His journey has captured the imagination and hearts of people when it comes to enjoying what the English Riviera has in abundance and is free  - it' seas, its beaches and coastline and historic Geopark landscape, its naturally inspiring,  natural environment. 

Water sports and enjoying leisure on the waves has taken off as that flotilla proved as Brendon paddled in. A special flotilla on a special day for a special man.