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: France, Norway, Corsica, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Malta, Tasmania and the Falkland Islands. He is currently based on Anglesey in North Wales, from where he runs the PSK website when he isn't paddling.

2328: Menai Straits paddles

Sea Kayak

John has extensive experience as a sea kayaker. He 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:

Date Type Locn. Elapsed
2003 Multi-Day: Wales Circumnav  (CW) 29 days
2005 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  Failed Attempt
Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  11:30 Record
Circumnav: Holy Island  04:28
2006 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:46 Record
2007 Crossing: Irish Sea  (Holyhead-Dublin) 13:45 Record
2009 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:25 Record
Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  Failed Attempt
2010 Crossing: Isle of Man  (Wales) 08:21 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Man  12:38 Record
Crossing: Irish Sea  (St.George's Channel) 09:58 Current Record
2011 Crossing: Irish Sea  (North Channel) 04:30
Crossing: Irish Sea  (North Channel) 03:25 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  09:55 Record
Circumnav: Isle of Mull  19:34 Current Record
Crossing: Irish Sea  (Holyhead-Dublin) 11:20 Current Record
2012 Crossing: Isle of Man  (Wales) 10:48
Crossing: Isle of Man  (Northern Ireland) 07:26 Record
Crossing: Lundy  (Wales) 08:30 Record
Multi-Day: UK Circumnav  (CW) 72 days Record
Crossing: Lundy  (England) 05:13
Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:29
Circumnav: Walney Island  03:10 Current Record
2013 Crossing: Lundy  (England) 01:59 Current Record
Crossing: Lundy  (England) 02:29
2014 Circumnav: Isle of Bute  05:34 Current Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (Scotland) 03:40 Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (Scotland) 03:34 Current Record
Circumnav: Holy Island  02:56 Current Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (England) 05:46 Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (England) 04:41 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  09:24 Current Record
2015 Circumnav: Isle of Wight  07:20 Current Record
Crossing: Lundy  (Wales) 07:30 Current Record
Multi-Day: UK Circumnav  (CCW) 83 days
Circumnav: Isle of Arran  09:15 Current Record
2016 Circumnav: Isle of Man  10:33 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Scarba  01:32 Current Record
2017 Circumnav: Isle of Jura  09:56 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Skye  Failed Attempt
2018 Nil:  
2019 Multi-Day: Wales Circumnav  (CW) 15 days = Record
Circumnav: Achill Island  06:30 2nd fastest
Circumnav: Holy Island  03:30 Team Record
Circumnav: Isle of Man  12:16


Since he began competing in 1984 John has raced in various disciplines, including: Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance/Sprint Racing. He has experience across the board: C1, C2, K1, K2 and K4 classes.


  • GB Intermediate Squad paddler: 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 club novice through to National Team paddlers. 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)