Paddlers plan historic ocean crossing

Steve Pascoe, Jasmin Muratagic and Eoghan Ryan are raising money through the charity Keep Calm and Paddle On.

Two Cayman Islands paddleboarders are aiming to make history by completing an ambitious 82-mile crossing from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman.

Bartenders Jasmin Muratagic and Eoghan Ryan believe that with a fair wind and favourable conditions, they can make the journey in around 14 hours.

They have scheduled a four-day window for the effort, to ensure the best possible weather and sea conditions.

The pair are raising money for the Nadine Andreas residential foster home through the non-profit Keep Calm and Paddle On, which Muratagic established to provide financial and moral support for various causes.

Both men have previously been involved in round-the-island paddles, as well as long-distance charity journeys in Canada.

They believe the open ocean crossing will be the toughest challenge they have ever confronted.

“Since we went around the island, we have wanted to do something even bigger and more ambitious,” said Muratagic. “This is 100 percent the hardest challenge we have ever tried.”

Though the point to point distance is 82 miles, the winds and currents will likely mean they take a less direct route that could end up being in excess of 100 miles.

The pair, along with fellow paddler Steve Pascoe, completed a 30-mile open ocean journey last year. They have been training with regular paddles between Rum Point and Camana Bay.

“That’s about nine miles,” said Ryan. “So we just have to do ten times that amount.”

They plan to leave Little Cayman together at sunrise and make it to Grand Cayman before dark. If the journey cannot be completed in a single day they will take a GPS reading and complete it the next day.

They aim to complete a continuous paddle, but will complete it as a relay if that goal proves impossible.

“We just don’t know what is possible till we get out there and do it,” said Ryan.

They are looking for somewhere between 11 and 17 knots wind speed as the ideal conditions for the crossing, which will take place at some point between 28 July and 1 August.

“If you don’t have the wind going with you it doesn’t matter how strong a paddler you are, you are spitting in the wind,” Ryan added.

Pascoe said he had wanted to be along for the trip, but the likely weather window coincides with a separate trip he is making to Tanzania.

So instead of joining his fellow paddlers, he is raising money for the organisation by collecting sponsorship to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Africa’s highest peak.

All three men say they are inspired by the people they raise money for.

Collectively they hope to raise around $15,000, which will go to the foster home and to local families dealing with mental health challenges.

Sponsors of the event and safety boats include Wheaton Precious Metals, Elite Marble and Granite, Smoothie King, Michelob Ultra, Guy Harvey, A.L. Thompson’s and Progressive Distributors.

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