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.

2398: 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
12015CrossingLundy Wales07:30:00Current Record
22014CrossingIsle of Man England04:41:22Current Record
3CrossingIsle of Man England05:46:14Record
4CrossingIsle of Man Scotland03:34:04Current Record
5CrossingIsle of Man Scotland03:40:25Record
62013CrossingLundy England02:29:19
7CrossingLundy England01:59:12Current Record
82012CrossingLundy England05:13:00
9CrossingLundy Wales08:30:00Record
10CrossingIsle of Man Northern Ireland07:26:00Record
11CrossingIsle of Man Wales10:48:00
122011CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin11:19:59Current Record
13CrossingIrish Sea North Channel03:25:28Record
14CrossingIrish Sea North Channel04:29:54
152010CrossingIrish Sea St.George's Channel09:57:49Current Record
16CrossingIsle of Man Wales08:21:12Current Record
172007CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin13:45:00Record


Date Type Locn. Elapsed
12020CircumnavAnglesey 11:12:41
2CircumnavWalney Island 02:53:09Current Record
3CircumnavAnglesey 12:19:38
42019CircumnavIsle of Man 12:16:03
5CircumnavHoly Island 03:29:57Team Record
6CircumnavAchill Island 
72017CircumnavIsle of Skye XXXFailed Attempt
8CircumnavIsle of Jura 09:55:40Current Record
92016CircumnavIsle of Scarba 01:32:05Current Record
10CircumnavIsle of Man 10:32:58Current Record
112015CircumnavIsle of Arran 09:14:54Current Record
12CircumnavIsle of Wight 07:19:46Current Record
132014CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 09:24:04Current Record
14CircumnavHoly Island 02:55:45Current Record
15CircumnavIsle of Bute 05:34:13Current Record
162012CircumnavWalney Island 03:10:00Record
17CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 10:28:38
182011CircumnavIsle of Mull 19:34:00Current Record
19CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 09:54:48Record
202010CircumnavIsle of Man 12:38:03Record
212009CircumnavIsle of Anglesey XXXFailed Attempt
22CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 10:24:54Record
232006CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 10:45:40Record
242005CircumnavHoly Island 04:28:00
25CircumnavIsle of Anglesey 11:30:00Record
26CircumnavIsle of Anglesey XXXFailed Attempt


Date Type Locn. Direction Elapsed
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.