UK. Standard Horizon sponsors Engelandvaarder 2011 North Sea Kayak Challenge

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A North Sea Kayak Challenge in remembrance of those who attempted to escape occupied Holland and come to England during World War II

Standard Horizon is proud to assist the Engelandvaarder 2011 kayak expedition in memory of all the Dutch men and women who braved the North Sea and attempted to cross from Holland to join the allied forces during World War II.

The Engelandvaarder team will be using Standard Horizon HX851E handheld DSC VHF radios during the expedition. The HX851E is a waterproof, floating handheld VHF radio complete with a full Class D GMDSS DSC modem. This means that, in addition to normal radio communications use, should an expedition member get into difficulties, his radio will be able to send an automated distress message complete with his GPS-derived latitude and longitude. The DSC facility makes inter-vessel communications direct and simple, while the emergency button provides immediate access to the GMDSS global distress network with messages to rescue services and passing vessels, containing the exact position of the kayak, together with the nature of the distress. These radios will provide the kayak crews with practical communications as well as safety reassurance.

Engelandvaarder is the name given to a group of about 1700 Dutch men and women who escaped occupied Holland and attempted to reach England to join the allies. Most chose overland routes, although historians believe that a total of some 95 attempts were made to cross the North Sea using a wide variety of craft and leaving from 40 different departure points. Of these, 31 attempts were successful and 179 people survived the trip. Initial attempts to cross the North Sea were made in large craft that usually grounded on the coastal sandbanks, but later ones used smaller craft until, in September 1941, brothers Henri and Willem Peteri completed a 56-hour crossing aboard one fold-up double kayak from Katwijk, north of the Hague, landing through surf on Sizewell beach, Suffolk.

Now, 70 years after the Peteri brothers, Alec Greenwell, Ed Cooper, Harry Franks and Olly Hicks are planning a memorial kayak crossing, again from Katwijk to Sizewell, departing around the 20th August 2011. 

This challenge, Engelandvaarder 2011, is particularly being made in memory of the thirty-two young Dutchmen who tried to escape to England by kayak during World War II to join the Allied Forces.  Eight of them reached the English Coast.

The direct distance across the North Sea is 118 miles, and the four men, each in separate boats, expect to be paddling their 5m sea kayaks continuously for 30-35 hours, dependent upon weather conditions. (The Peteri brothers originally took 56 hours to complete the same route.)  Their journey will involve coping with the North Sea’s notoriously choppy waters and strong tides as well as crossing four of the busiest shipping lanes where they will meet commercial traffic to and from the ports of Felixstowe, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge. It will be a real test of the men’s mental and physical stamina as well as their boats and equipment.

The aim of the expedition is to commemorate the Engelandvaarder men and women, yet also to raise funds for the Combat Stress and Suffolk Foundation charities. Combat Stress helps services personnel suffering psychological conditions, while the Suffolk Foundation provides grants to charities and voluntary groups throughout Suffolk. Donations to these charities can be made via the Engelandvaarder 2011 website

In 2005, team member Olly Hicks became the first person to row solo from America to the UK – he was 23 years old – and, in making the 124 days crossing, became the youngest person to row solo across an ocean.  Alec Greenwell, 23, from Suffolk, has made numerous canoeing trips and is a keen climber. Alec works in London as a wind farm developer.  Ed Cooper is a keen rower and experienced sailor. He has worked as a paramedic in South African townships, but now works in London while training for the Engelandvaarder trip.  Harry Franks, 25, lives near Woodbridge, Suffolk, and recently completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe race in 28 hours. He works for a healthcare company.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 June 2011 )