Kayaker faces gunfire and 6ft waves in record bid

A man wearing a yellow life jacket, wearing a red hat and holding an oar on a beach
Mike Lambert has taken on the challenge in memory of his mother and to raise money for charity [Mike Lambert]

A kayaker aiming to set a world record by paddling around Britain in the fastest time has been met with gunfire, monster waves and painful wounds – but is refusing to give in.

Mike Lambert, 32, began his 1,881-mile (3,028km) challenge from East Wittering, in West Sussex, on 1 June.

The physiotherapist from Walton-on-Thames, in Surrey, said so far he has faced days that have been so treacherous he would not repeat them.

“I’m learning things about myself that I could only have learned on this journey. It’s been very painful, but very beautiful,” he said.

The palm of a man's right hand covered in blisters
Mr Lambert's hands are covered in blisters after two weeks of rowing [Mike Lambert]

Mr Lambert must cover an average of 51 miles a day to finish the trip in 39 days.

“There’s force nine winds at the moment so I’ve had to take the day to rest," he told the BBC while on a rest-day in Rosslare Harbour, Ireland.

"It would be genuinely deadly to go out in this.”

A green tent next to a yellow roll-up camping bed mat laid out on grey pebbles on a beach
Mr Lambert has no land support and is carrying his tent and belongings in waterproof bags [Mike Lambert]

Earlier in his mission, Mr Lambert's two satellite watches stopped working, which meant he was forced to navigate by sight and compass.

He has faced non-stop headwinds and battled waves 6ft high in the Severn Estuary, which have harmed his efforts to beat the current record of 40 days.

But Mr Lambert said the scariest part of the journey was hearing gunfire off the coast of Pembroke, in Wales, which he suspects was from the Castlemartin army training area.

"It was all a bit unnerving. I don't know if they would have seen me," he said.

Remains confident

Gunfire aside, the journey has also had its perks.

Mr Lambert has seen porpoises, dolphins and even puffins, and has praised the generosity of strangers.

During the first week, he was forced to make an unscheduled stop at Porthcurno beach, in Cornwall, where he met a nurse and a neurosurgeon who treated his wounds and gave him a meal and a bed for the night.

"I almost feel like I've got someone looking after me," said Mr Lambert, who took on the challenge in memory of his mother, who died in 2022 from a rare heart disease.

Former GB sprint kayaker Mr Lambert said that despite the setbacks, he remains confident.

So after buying two new navigation watches, he left Rosslare Harbour on Friday with only one thing on his mind: Smashing that Guinness World Record.

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