True Blue Madonna
22 May 2014, 19:35
A team of Royal Marines has staged a small-scale invasion in kayaks having paddled across the English Channel in an arduous 30-hour challenge.
The six kayakers, backed by a support team of 24 qualified kayakers as well as a landing craft, completed the 86 nautical mile trip at Eastney beach in Southsea, Hampshire, having set off from Port en Bessin in Normandy.
The kayakers were met by a crowd of well-wishers as well as a band from the Royal Marines School of Music and the Deputy General Royal Marine Brigadier Bill Dunham and the Naval Secretary Rear Admiral Woodcock.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: ``The start and finish hold great significance for the Commandos.
``Port en Bessin was where 47 Commando successfully stormed and captured the German-held port on 6 June 1944, and the beach at Eastney is where the Cockleshell heroes trained and is now home of the Royal Marines Museum.''
Corporal Anthony Fairclough, from Liverpool, said the conditions had been choppy but manageable.
The 26-year-old, who has taken part in all legs of the challenge which started in Norway in February, said: ``It's good to be back, it's been a long journey, it's been a long time coming but we are here eventually.
``That took about 30 hours, it wasn't too bad, a little bit tired.
``It wasn't perfect conditions but it was manageable, it only got to about sea state four - that is just about our limit so wasn't too bad but I'm glad to be back on dry land.''
The 1664 Kayak Challenge is part of a series of challenges to commemorate the 350 anniversary of the Royal Marines.
Since the start of the challenge on February 4, Royal Marines have skied 1664km from north to south Norway, cycled 1,664km through Spain and France, swapped bikes for kayaks and canoed 120km across the English Channel.
The final phase, which begins in Portsmouth on Monday (May 26), will be a 1,664km run around the UK.
The spokesman said: ``The Royal Marines 1664 Kayak Challenge is a remarkable challenge being carried out by remarkable men and will draw on the four elements of Commando Spirit - courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in the face of adversity.''