Mallorca SUP Circumnavigation
Cat Friend (British) and Valerie Bisbal (Mallorcan) aim to be the first people to circumnavigate the Spanish Island of Mallorca (also spelled Majorca) on a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) on the Soller To Soller Expedition.
The expedition started 1 June 2018 from Port Soller, and the paddler hope to complete the the 555km trip (345 miles) in 21 days. Cat and Valerie aim to raise awareness of marine pollution and provide funds for conservation projects in the Balearic Sea and beaches of Mallorca.
Paddle Boarding around Mallorca is a significant venture, with many hazards including a hostile range of cliffs on the North shore, with very few places to land or take shelter. Currents, winds, plastic debris, abandoned fishing nets, shipping lanes of cargo and ferries are just some of the many challenges.
Their planning for the expedition started in late 2017. Carrying more than 20kgs on their paddle boards can be difficult to manage, therefore logistics will be in place to supply the girls with food and water. Cat and Val have been training extensively in order to spend as much as six hours a day paddling, regardless of wind, rain and currents. Stamina and fitness will be key.
The scale of this venture puts it into expedition status. Cat and Val are looking for support to get them through. “If there is anyone on holiday in Mallorca in June, we would love them to join us for an hour or more, it would be great fun,” says Cat “you can find our whereabouts each day from our website”.
Last year, Asociación Ondine, with the aid of 870 volunteers removed 2.2 tonnes of rubbish from Mallorca’s beaches and 600m of ghost nets (lost or left fishing net) from the surrounding seas. “Maintaining the seas and beaches around Mallorca is important to us, says Valerie Bisbal, “It’s heart-breaking to see the damage to fish, dolphins and other marine life. Every day we see pollution in the sea and litter on the beaches, which is why this project is important to all people wherever they are.”
All money raised will go to the Asociacion Ondine, which works with government, business and local communities to enable conservation projects. The initial target is $15,000 (€12,000 / £10,000.)
About Cat Friend
Catherine Friend, age 28, with a degree in Biological Sciences, is a keen sailor. In 2011, Cat came 4th in the ISAF team racing World Championship for GBR. In 2013, she won the Wilson Trophy. She took up paddle boarding in 2016. On the progression from sailing to SUP, Cat says “Paddleboarding has a simplicity to it that’s different from sailing – the repetition of the stroke is kind of meditative. Being on the board, you’re so aware of yourself – your balance and how every movement you make has a consequence.”
About Valerie Bisbal
Valerie Bisbal, age 41, has lived in Port Soller all her life. Married with two grown children and a 5-year-old, she didn’t envisage being involved with a project of this scale. “My family has been so supportive. Their support has enabled me to concentrate on the local participation of sponsors and logistics,” says Valerie, “I spend a lot of time SUP paddling, doing SUP yoga and snorkelling, and I see the pollution. Helping to remove the waste from the water is important to all of us”.
Mallorca lies 200 km off the southeastern coast of Spain in the Balearic Sea. It is a popular holiday destination for Europeans. with more than three million German and two million British people visiting each year. Major holiday resorts include Palma, Magaluf and Polenca. Port Soller, the start and finish point of this venture, is on the north coast, surrounded by mountains.
About the gear
Cat and Valerie will be completing the Soller To Soller SUP Expedition on Starboard 12’6 x 29 Touring SUPs.
Image Credits: Soller to Soller