Paddler Profile – John Willacy

John began his paddling career in the early 1980’s. Along the way he has paddled whitewater in Norway, sea kayaking 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, as well as in many venues: 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.

Sea Kayak

John has completed many miles as a sea kayaker. He holds a number of solo sea kayak records and has completed two solo circumnavigations of the UK:

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:

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2003 Multi-Day:  Wales Circumnav 29 days
2004 Circumnav:  Anglesey 2 days
2005 Circumnav:  Anglesey
Circumnav:  Anglesey 11:30
Circumnav:  Holy Island 04:28
2006 Circumnav:  Anglesey 10:45
2007 Crossing:  Irish Sea 13:45
2009 Circumnav:  Anglesey 10:24
Circumnav:  Anglesey
2010 Crossing:  Isle of Man 08:21
Circumnav:  Isle of Man 12:38
Crossing:  Irish Sea 09:57
2011 Crossing:  Irish Sea 03:25
Crossing:  Irish Sea 04:29
Circumnav:  Anglesey 09:54
Circumnav:  Isle of Mull 19:34
Crossing:  Irish Sea 11:19
2012 Crossing:  Isle of Man 10:48
Crossing:  Isle of Man 07:26
Crossing:  Lundy 08:30
Multi-Day:  UK Circumnav 72 days
Crossing:  Lundy 05:13
Circumnav:  Anglesey 10:28
Circumnav:  Walney Island 03:10
2013 Crossing:  Lundy 01:59
Crossing:  Lundy 02:29
2014 Circumnav:  Isle of Bute 05:34
Crossing:  Isle of Man 03:40
Crossing:  Isle of Man 03:34
Circumnav:  Holy Island 02:55
Crossing:  Isle of Man 05:46
Crossing:  Isle of Man 04:41
Circumnav:  Anglesey 09:24
2015 Circumnav:  Isle of Wight 07:19
Crossing:  Lundy 07:30
Multi-Day:  UK Circumnav 83 days
Circumnav:  Isle of Arran 09:14
2016 Circumnav:  Isle of Man 10:32
Circumnav:  Isle of Scarba 01:32
2017 Circumnav:  Isle of Jura 09:55
Circumnav:  Isle of Skye
2019 Multi-Day:  Wales Circumnav 15 days
Circumnav:  Achill Island
Circumnav:  Holy Island 03:29
Circumnav:  Isle of Man 12:16
2020 Circumnav:  Anglesey 12:19
Circumnav:  Walney Island 02:53
Circumnav:  Anglesey 11:12
2021 Circumnav:  Anglesey 10:12
Circumnav:  Walney Island 02:51
Circumnav:  Walney Island 03:08
Circumnav:  Holy Island 03:50


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


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

Wild Water Racing

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

Great Britain Team:

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

Military Competition

John won his first Interservice Championship in 1987 and his last in 2008, taking 103 gold medals along the way. He also won over 70 Royal Air Force Championship titles, across various canoesport disciplines.
In 2007 he was awarded the British Forces Sportsman of the Year award.


John has been involved with coaching since the 1980s, with coaching experience ranging from novice through to National Team paddlers. John holds his BCU Level 4 Inland Kayak and Level 4 Sea kayak qualifications. He also holds BCU competition coaching qualifications for Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance Racing.

He is currently on the coaching staff for the Welsh Canoe Slalom Team.

Kayak Design

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

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