Menai Challenge Info - Sea Zoo (Old) Course
The Menai Challenge is for those looking to push themselves, their fitness and their stamina using a time-trial course within the Menai Straits. The Challenge is an informal, self timed affair; paddlers set a time and then send that to PSK. We add it to the results page and then you can compare yourself against your peers, your friends or even your paddling heroes!
There are 2 courses: one is a straight run between start and finish; the other is longer and more technical, involving a sneaky lap of the Swellies! There is a Prize Draw annually - on a raffle basis - you don't even have to set a fast time!
(See also PSK Safety Info Page)
Paddlers are entirely responsible for their own safety and welfare whilst attempting or preparing for the Menai Challenge. All paddlers should carry relevant safety equipment; suggestions include: waterproofed mobile phone, VHF radio, flares, spare warm clothing, exposure bag, first aid kit, spare paddles etc. Paddlers should be well versed and competent in self rescue techniques and open/moving water paddling; solo paddling is most strongly not recommended. Participants must wear a CE approved personal flotation device (PFD) and paddling clothing relevant to the anticipated conditions.
It is recommended to notify Holyhead Coastguard (01407 762051) and/or a shore contact before you set out.
Courses - Pre 2014 season
Please note that there is a new course for the Menai Challenge starting in 2014
The original courses run between Anglesey Sea Zoo (SH 480 653) and Gallows Point (SH 597 751) and can be run in either direction – it is down to the paddler to decide the direction best for them and the prevailing conditions. There is a short course and a longer one, which takes ina lap of the Swellies.
For a Flood Tide run start at the Sea Zoo, for an Ebb Tide run start at Gallows Point. The short course (approx 17km) runs straight between start and finish points, the long course (approx.21 km) involves a demanding lap of the Swellies.
Sea Zoo Start/Finish Point:
A small slipway by the large, blue ‘ Anglesey Sea Salt’ sign – about 50m east of the Sea Zoo entrance (SH 480 653). If the water is below the slipway then start/finish at the water’s edge in line with the end of the slipway.
There is a small car park on the water’s edge about 200m west of the Sea Zoo – please do not park on the road or obstruct any entrances etc.
Gallows Point Start/Finish Point:
On the west side of the Gallows Point headland there is a small slipway belonging to the boatyard, use this as a start/finish point. There is no access through the boatyard; please park in the lay-by overlooking the Menai Straits and carry the boats over the wall and along the beach. If the lay-by is full there is a car park about 200m further on towards Beaumaris.
From slipway to slipway, whichever route you think best in between.
As per the short course but this one also takes in a lap of the Swellies.
On the flood: Pass beneath Brittania Bridge (the first one) and paddle on to the Menai Bridge, turn around the central island. Direction is down to the individual but you must pass through one of the small arches on the Anglesey Shore and through the main arch. Then paddle back up to Brittania Bridge, again turn around the central island, passing through both arches – in either direction. Now paddle on to the finish.
On the Ebb:
Pass beneath Menai Bridge (first bridge) and continue to Brittania Bridge. Turn in either direction around the central island (passing through both arches) and then paddle back up to Menai Bridge. Turn again around the central island, passing through both the main arch and one of the smaller arches on the Anglesey Shore – direction is up to you. Now head back towards Brittania Bridge and continue to the finish.
There is a Start Time Calculator here, which gives suggested start times for the long course. On the ebb aim for a start between HW Liverpool -2:00 to +2:00. On the flood HW LP -4:45 to -4:15. Get to Menai Bridge too early and you won’t have enough water to round the bridge!
Both courses can be run in either direction. It is left to the paddler to decide the best direction, route and tide to use. The challenge can be undertaken on whichever day the paddler considers safe and suitable.
The challenge is self-timed by the paddler; the clock starts when you leave the first slipway and stops when you reach the second slipway. Times are submitted by the individual and will be taken on a trust basis. All paddlers should consider providing GPS track to backup their claim, results are marked as GPS verified.
Please time using a stopwatch (down to seconds preferably). If any times draw on the same minute, any times submitted without seconds will be round up to the next minute.
Submit your time: Here
- Age (if you want)
- Boat Model/Manufacturer
- Start Time & Start Point
- Time Taken
- Course (Adv or Std)
K1(Single Sea Kayaks or Ocean Skis) or K2 (Double sea kayaks or Ocean Skis). There are no time allowances for differing boat design, length, construction, colour, weather, lack of training or any other excuse. Crack on and don’t be a wuss.
The Menai Challenge is open to paddlers of purpose built sea kayaks or purpose built ocean skis. No times will be accepted for persons paddling craft other than those specifically designed for use in open ocean paddling. Craft should be designed to be unsinkable through the inclusion of permanent water-tight dry compartments within the original design. The fitting of toggles/grab handles and additional buoyancy (air bags etc) is strongly recommended. There are no length restrictions in either class. Craft may only be propelled with paddles - no sails, motors, outboards etc! Wash-hanging of other participating eligible craft is allowed.
Note: The Menai Straits has numerous areas of rocky shallows and plenty of weed - beware if paddling with a fixed understern rudder!