Paddler Profile – John Willacy

John started out on his paddling career in the early 1980’s. Along the way he has paddled whitewater in Norway, sea kayaks in the Falkland Islands and represented Great Britain in Wild Water Racing and Canoe Slalom. John has paddled across most of the canoesport disciplines and classes, and in many locations. He is currently based on Anglesey in North Wales, from where he runs the PSK website when he isn't paddling.

2408: Menai Straits paddles

Sea Kayak

John holds a number of solo sea kayak records and has completed two solo circumnavigations of the UK, the only person to have done so:

2012 UK Circumnavigation - 72 days - Clockwise Kayak Blog.
2015 UK Circumnavigation - 83 days - Anti-Clockwise Kayak Blog.

In 2012 he was awarded the Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year award by Canoe & Kayak UK magazine.

Sea Paddling Achievements:

Solo Crossing

Date Type Locn. Route From Elapsed Distance
12015CrossingLundy Wales07:30:0028 nmCurrent Record
22014Crossing Man England04:41:2227 nmCurrent Record
3Crossing Man England05:46:1427 nmRecord
4Crossing Man Scotland03:34:0417 nmCurrent Record
5Crossing Man Scotland03:40:2517 nmRecord
62013CrossingLundy England02:29:1911 nm
7CrossingLundy England01:59:1211 nmCurrent Record
82012CrossingLundy England05:13:0011 nm
9CrossingLundy Wales08:30:0036 nmRecord
10Crossing Man Northern Ireland07:26:0029 nmRecord
11Crossing Man Wales10:48:0041 nm
122011CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin11:19:5951 nmCurrent Record
13CrossingIrish Sea North Channel03:25:2819 nmRecord
14CrossingIrish Sea North Channel04:29:5419 nm
152010CrossingIrish Sea St.George's Channel09:57:4944 nmCurrent Record
16Crossing Man Wales08:21:1240 nmCurrent Record
172007CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin13:45:0053 nmRecord


Date Type Locn. Elapsed Distance
12020Circumnav Anglesey 11:12:4165 nm
2CircumnavWalney Island 02:53:0917 nmCurrent Record
3Circumnav Anglesey 12:19:3865 nm
42019Circumnav Man 12:16:0362 nm
5CircumnavHoly Island 03:29:5718 nmTeam Record
6CircumnavAchill Island 35 nm
72017Circumnav Skye XXX118 nmFailed Attempt
8Circumnav Jura 09:55:4056 nmCurrent Record
92016Circumnav Scarba 01:32:058 nmCurrent Record
10Circumnav Man 10:32:5863 nmCurrent Record
112015Circumnav Arran 09:14:5447 nmCurrent Record
12Circumnav Wight 07:19:4649 nmCurrent Record
132014Circumnav Anglesey 09:24:0464 nmCurrent Record
14CircumnavHoly Island 02:55:4518 nmCurrent Record
15Circumnav Bute 05:34:1331 nmCurrent Record
162012CircumnavWalney Island 03:10:0017 nmRecord
17Circumnav Anglesey 10:28:3864 nm
182011Circumnav Mull 19:34:0080 nmCurrent Record
19Circumnav Anglesey 09:54:4864 nmRecord
202010Circumnav Man 12:38:0363 nmRecord
212009Circumnav Anglesey XXXFailed Attempt
22Circumnav Anglesey 10:24:5464 nmRecord
232006Circumnav Anglesey 10:45:4064 nmRecord
242005CircumnavHoly Island 04:28:0018 nm
25Circumnav Anglesey 11:30:0064 nmRecord
26Circumnav Anglesey XXXFailed Attempt


Date Type Locn. Direction Elapsed Distance
12019Multi-DayWales Circumnav CW15 days= Current Record
22015Multi-DayUK Circumnav CCW83 days
32012Multi-DayUK Circumnav CW72 daysRecord
42003Multi-DayWales Circumnav CW29 days


First competition: 1984
Competition Discipliness: Canoe Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance/Sprint Racing
Classes: C1, C2, K1, K2 and K4


  • GB Intermediate Squad: 1988-1990
  • British Open C1 Champion: 1989(B), 1990(Slalom Sprint)
  • English C1 Champion: 1990, 1994
  • Welsh C2 Champion (with Geoff Forster)
  • BCU Premier Division C1 Slalom: 1989 - 1997

Wild Water Racing

  • Great Britain C1 Champion: 1992, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008
  • British Open C1 Champion: 1992, 1999
  • Welsh Open C1 Champion: 2005
  • BCU Division A paddler 1991 - 2008

Great Britain Team:

  • World Championships Team: 1993, 1995, 1996, 2006
  • World Cup Team: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997
  • Bronze Medallist: Masters World Championships 2006


John has been involved with coaching for more than 30 years, delivering technical coaching and mentoring to paddlers ranging from novice through to National Team. He has worked as a coach for the Wales Canoe Slalom Team.

John holds his BCU Level 4 Inland Kayak and Level 4 Sea Kayak qualifications, along with BCU competition coaching qualifications for Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance Racing.

Kayak Design

John designed, tested and developed a number of sea kayaks whilst working for Rockpool Kayaks:

  • Taran 18
  • Taran 16
  • GT
  • Isel (part design)

International Paddling

France, Norway, Corsica, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Malta, Tasmania, Ireland and the Falkland Islands.