THE SOURCE OF DOUGAL’S PRIDE AFTER RECORD-BREAKING PADDLE AROUND BRITAIN
Sitting back at home, reflecting on the enormity of the incredible paddling adventure he’s just completed, Dougal Glaisher says he feels an immense sense of pride.
Not for the sheer quantity of distance he completed – some 3,200 kilometres around the coastline of Britain.
And not for the record he picked up for doing so – his time of 40 days smashed the previous mark of 67.
Instead, the 23 year-old Englishman says his greatest joy comes from conquering his fears.
“I was out of my comfort zone for a lot of this trip. The constant decision making and weighing up of risks is really draining.” Glaisher says.
“At one stage, I did wonder whether I could handle that for another month.
“I’m not one of these people that is super comfortable on the ocean, especially doing some of the big crossings I had to do.
“Being alone often in the middle of the sea, with no land in sight, and having Type 1 Diabetes, there’s always a fear my sugar levels could go low.
“The rewarding feeling comes from knowing that I’ve done all I can and fulfilled my potential.”
It’s a stunning admission given his experience on the water.
Glaisher has represented his nation at the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships, and during his last expedition, covered more than 5,500 kilometres exploring the Mederreteranian.
It was during that trip, paddling his modified Epic V8 and sleeping in his tent on beaches and parks alike, that the idea to circumnavigate Britain was borne.
“There’s quite a lot of history behind the record in the UK, but no one had done it in a surfski before,” he explains.
“My last trip was more wandering around Europe on an adventure with no time pressure.
“I had a few paddles where I was curious about how fast and how far I could go.
“Soon I realised this was the ideal challenge.”
Although the record was part of the allure, it was never Glaisher’s primary focus.
After being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2019, he’s driven by a desire to raise funds and awareness for UK-based charity Action4Diabetes.
“I set out with a target of 50 days in mind, but I wasn’t thinking too much about the record because it’s so weather dependent.
“For me, it was more about pushing myself and maximising what I could do.”
Glaisher set out from Suffolk, and immediately struck ideal downwind conditions.
In fact, he says he “had luck” with the weather, allowing him to complete his crossings as hoped.
Along the way, all sorts of unpredictable adventures, as he documented on his website and social media channels.
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It was only when he rounded the top of Scotland and began heading south, did the reality of the record begin to set in.
“For the first half of the trip especially I was never thinking beyond the first challenge. Just things like, ‘Do the next 10 kilometres’, ‘get around that next headland’, just things like that.
“When I got back to the east coast I began thinking about the record and that made it really psychologically hard, battling into a headwind most of the way.
“The second last day I finished at 7pm, got a few hours sleep, then set back out at midnight for the last 100 kilometres to get there by 5 o’clock.”
And after celebrating his incredible adventure with his friends and family, Glaisher knows exactly what he wants to do next.
“Have a rest,” he laughs. “There’ll be more challenges, for sure. I can’t see myself getting a desk job anytime soon.
“I’ll tell you when I know myself. For now, I’m just enjoying the achievement of this one.”