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, won various National Titles 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 trains on the Menai Strait and runs the PSK website when he isn't paddling.

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.

2742: Menai Strait paddles

Sea Paddling Achievements:


Date Type Locn. Elapsed Distance
12022CircumnavAnglesey 11:10:5765 nm
22021CircumnavIsle of Bute 06:46:0231 nmTeam Record
3CircumnavIsle of Wight 07:02:2249 nmCurrent Record
4CircumnavHayling Island 02:00:5611 nm
5CircumnavHoly Island 03:18:3718 nmCW
6CircumnavHoly Island 03:03:2018 nmCCW
7CircumnavIsle of Skye 54:22:10124 nmCurrent Record
8CircumnavHoly Island 03:50:5418 nmTeam
9CircumnavWalney Island 03:08:5417 nmTeam Record
10CircumnavWalney Island 02:51:5617 nmRecord
11CircumnavAnglesey 10:12:1565 nm
122020CircumnavAnglesey 11:12:4165 nm
13CircumnavWalney Island 02:53:0917 nmRecord
14CircumnavAnglesey 12:19:3865 nm
152019CircumnavIsle of Man 12:16:0362 nm
16CircumnavHoly Island 03:29:5718 nmTeam Record
17CircumnavAchill Island 00:00:0035 nm
182017CircumnavIsle of Skye XXX118 nmFailed Attempt
19CircumnavIsle of Jura 09:55:4056 nmCurrent Record
202016CircumnavIsle of Scarba 01:32:058 nmCurrent Record
21CircumnavIsle of Man 10:32:5863 nmCurrent Record
222015CircumnavIsle of Arran 09:14:5447 nmCurrent Record
23CircumnavIsle of Wight 07:19:4649 nmRecord
242014CircumnavAnglesey 09:24:0464 nmCurrent Record
25CircumnavHoly Island 02:55:4518 nmCurrent Record
26CircumnavIsle of Bute 05:34:1331 nmRecord
272012CircumnavWalney Island 03:10:0017 nmRecord
28CircumnavAnglesey 10:28:3864 nm
292011CircumnavIsle of Mull 19:34:0080 nmCurrent Record
30CircumnavAnglesey 09:54:4864 nmRecord
312010CircumnavIsle of Man 12:38:0363 nmRecord
322009CircumnavAnglesey XXXFailed Attempt
33CircumnavAnglesey 10:24:5464 nmRecord
342006CircumnavAnglesey 10:45:4064 nmRecord
352005CircumnavHoly Island 04:28:0018 nm
36CircumnavAnglesey 11:30:0064 nmRecord
37CircumnavAnglesey XXXFailed Attempt
382004CircumnavAnglesey 2 days64 nmTeam

(Solo unless stated)

Crossing / Distance

Date Type Locn. Route From Elapsed Distance
12022CrossingLancaster Canal (end-to-end) Preston07:41:5041 m
22021CrossingLoch Ness (end-to-end) Fort Augustus02:58:1418 nmUK Record?
32020CrossingLancaster Canal (end-to-end) Preston07:53:3141 m
42015CrossingLundy Wales07:30:0028 nmCurrent Record
52014CrossingIsle of Man England04:41:2227 nmCurrent Record
6CrossingIsle of Man England05:46:1427 nmRecord
7CrossingIsle of Man Scotland03:34:0417 nmCurrent Record
8CrossingIsle of Man Scotland03:40:2517 nmRecord
92013CrossingLundy England02:29:1911 nm
10CrossingLundy England01:59:1211 nmCurrent Record
112012CrossingLundy England05:13:0011 nm
12CrossingLundy Wales08:30:0036 nmRecord
13CrossingIsle of Man Northern Ireland07:26:0029 nmRecord
14CrossingIsle of Man Wales10:48:0041 nm
15CrossingLancaster Canal (end-to-end) Tewitfield08:15:0641 m
162011CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin11:19:5951 nmCurrent Record
17CrossingIrish Sea North Channel03:25:2819 nmRecord
18CrossingIrish Sea North Channel04:29:5419 nm
192010CrossingIrish Sea St.George's Channel09:57:4944 nmCurrent Record
20CrossingIsle of Man Wales08:21:1240 nmCurrent Record
212007CrossingIrish Sea Holyhead-Dublin13:45:0053 nmRecord


Date Type Locn. Direction Elapsed Distance
12019Multi-DayWales Circumnav CW15 days= 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
  • Masters World Championships 2006: Bronze Medallist

Kayak Design

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

  • 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.


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.