Menai Challenge Info - New Course for 2014
The Menai Challenge is for those looking to push themselves to the limit. The Challenge is a time-trial course set within the Menai Straits. It 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 the other paddlers on the list.
The course is a loop run from Menai Bridge, taking in Brittania Bridge and Bangor Pier, and it involves two runs through the Swellies! There is a Prize Draw annually - on a raffle basis - you don't even have to set a fast time!
Note: The Menai Challenge is not suitable for wusses.
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.
Beware of other water users and obstacles within the Straits. There are numerous buoys, moored craft and markers/perches/posts - all of which could result in serious harm if you get too close. Give them all a very wide berth, the fast flow means that you will close surprisingly rapidly on any obstacles.
It is recommended to notify Holyhead Coastguard (01407 762051) and/or a shore contact before you set out.
(See also PSK Safety Info Page)
For 2014 there is a new course for the Menai Challenge, this new course is a little shorter and takes in a loop that starts and finishes in Menai Bridge.
The course has two turn points, one at Bangor Pier and one at Brittania Bridge. The start and finish points are on the slipway in Menai Bridge.
The course can be run in either direction and at any state of the tide; Start at the slipway, go to Bangor Pier and Brittania Bridge (in either order) and return to the slipway, all the rest is down to you. You decide which direction and route you think is best for the prevailing conditions - Brittania Bridge and the Swellies first or down to the Pier followed by a long run to the Bridge, passing through the Swellies to finish? It's your choice.
The concrete slipway in Menai Bridge (SH 558, 718). Start on the centre line of the slipway and within one boat length of the visible (waterline) end.
As per the Start Line.
Turn Point - Brittania Bridge:
Turn around the central pillar of the Brittania Bridge, at the western end of the Swellies (SH 541, 710). The turn can be taken either clockwise or anti-clockwise, go up one arch and then down the other arch.
Note: The Brittania Bridge pillar sits on a rocky island which is submerged at high water, don't get too close or you may damage boat, blades or body! Expect fast moving water here.
Turn Point - Bangor Pier:
Turn around the red can buoy (SH 581,737) which lies just north (~100-200m) of the end of Bangor Pier. The buoy is marked 'Bangor'. The turn can be taken either clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Note: Give the buoy PLENTY of room on the turn, the flow can be fast here and the buoy WILL close very rapidly. It is not recommended to pass beneath Bangor Pier as there are shallows and numerous dangerous beams and struts, some that are just submerged. On the noth side, the Gazelle Hotel slipway should be given plenty of room, it extends a way out - marked by a green perch.
Paddlers must start and finish on the Menai Bridge slipway and turn once around both turn points. Otherwise the route and direction is down to the paddler.
There is moving water along the whole course but this is especially pronounced in the Swellies - between the Telford Bridge and Brittania Bridge. Expect swiftly moving water and turbulence within the Swellies. There can be considerable rough water in the Swellies, especially on Spring tides.
In strong winds, conditions can become extremely challenging throughout the course. Strong Westerlies will give rough conditions at Brittania Bridge (especially on the ebb) and to the East of Menai Bridge. During Easterlies the whole stretch to the East of the Telford bridge can become very rough, especially on the flood tide. The Bangor Pier turn is exposed during any wind.
At low water rocks and weed are exposed along the length of the course, at high water the water's edge will reach within the treeline in places.
There is very limited car parking by the slipway and this becomes busy during the summer months. There are car parks available off the Hight Street in Menai Bridge, you may want to drop your boat and then move your car to a car park. Please park considerately, car parking is limited for local residents also.
Please do not park on the slipway, it is in regular use - year round.
Note: Avoid parking on the gravel trailer park at the slipway, it floods at high water and a number of vehicles have been flooded while left there.
It is left to the paddler to choose the best time and tide to undertake a Menai Challenge run. Have a think!
The course 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 slipway and stops when you return to the slipway. Times are submitted by the individual and will be taken on a trust basis. All paddlers should provide a GPS track file to backup their claim, results are marked as GPS verified (or otherwise).
Please time using a stopwatch (down to seconds). If any times draw on the same minute, times submitted without seconds will be rounded up to the next whole minute.
Submit your time: Here
- Age (if you want)
- Boat Model/Manufacturer
- Start Time
- Time Taken
There will be two classes; one for single sea kayaks (K1) and one for double sea kayaks (K2). There will be no class distinctions for boat design, gender, boat length, boat construction, boat colour, weather, lack of training or any other excuse. Crack on and don’t be a wuss.
The Menai Challenge is open to all paddlers of purpose built sea kayaks which must incorporate at least two dry, sealed compartments separated from the cockpit area by permanent watertight bulkheads. Kayaks must be fitted with full length deck lines; the fitting of toggles/grab handles and additional buoyancy (air bags etc) is strongly recommended. There are no length restrictions. Spraydecks must be worn at all times. Only sea kayaks are currently eligible – no skis, WWR boats, open canoes etc. Sea kayaks may only be propelled with paddles - no sails, outboards etc! Wash-hanging of other sea kayaks is allowed, but not of other craft (powered or non-powered).
Rockpool Kayaks have generously offered demo versions of their kayak fleet for use.