Paddle Boarding Adventures – An Ultra Triathlon with the Tempest Two

At the beginning of October 2017, The Tempest Two, otherwise known James Whittle & Tom Caulfield set out to take on a world-first ultra-triathlon across one of the rawest environments on the planet, Patagonia.  

Since 2015 the boys have shown that “ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things” and with a whole bunch of self-belief and a lot of hard work, anything is possible. This latest venture was set to push them even further out of their comfort zone, taking on their most ambitious challenge to date.  

Their world-first adventure triathlon comprised of an epic 1600km cycle followed by a 65Km run and rounded up with a 200km paddle over two vast glacial lakes. The above seemed ambitious. However, it was made more-so by the fact the guys had absolutely no experience in any of the three disciplines. In fact, they only stepped foot on a paddle board for the first time a few months ago! 

Before they set off we asked the guys to round-up the trip in their own words, as they planned and prepped for the month ahead.  

“The biggest challenge is not the distance, it’s the conditions.” 

Patagonia rivers

 “For our latest expedition we will be arriving into what is regarded as one of the rawest, and most beautiful regions on Earth. Patagonia stretches through Chile and Argentina, a land of contrasts. The peaks of the Andes neighbour the desolate planes of the Patagonian steppe, lush forests collide with barren rock and sand. This is the land of the Gauchos, a group of people who live from the land, and protect it fiercely. 

 It is here, that we will be taking on our most ambitious challenge to date. A world-first adventure triathlon that will push us to our physical and mental limits, and see us explore the region in a totally unique way. 

 Our first leg is a 1600km cycle from the northern town of Bariloche, to the southern settlement of El Chalten. This will see us skirt mountains, lakes, glaciers and eventually push through the emptiness of the Patagonian Desert.  

Leg two is a 65km ultra-run through the mountains of the Fitz Roy range. We will be taking on the infamous Huemul Circuit (usually a four day trekking route) and hope to be the first people ever to complete the distance in 24 hours. 

Our final challenge sees us mount our inflatable paddle-boards, and begin a 200km marathon of wind, waves and icy water. We will be traversing the two vast glacial lakes, Viedma and Argentino, and the adjoining river.

Map of lakes for world first stand up paddle board route Patagonia

This lack of experience in these disciplines is seen by many as naive and foolish, but we know from experience that it can also be a blessing. In 2016, we rowed the Atlantic having never rowed or sailed before, climbed Mont Blanc with zero-experience climbing, and rode motorbikes from London to the Sahara Desert having passed our tests the week before. The fact we were novices meant no ego’s, pre-determined thoughts or opinions were present. We believe experience can be a benefit, of course, but we’ve learnt to never shy away from anything due to a lack of it. 

So here we are again, and we are proud to have the support of Red Paddle Co to help us achieve our goal. We have been working with the team for the past couple of months, figuring out the best paddle boarding training regime, ideal boards for the trip, and how to pack effectively. Their knowledge has given us the tools we need to succeed, and the confidence to push on regardless of the countless people who have told us the paddle-board section especially, is impossible.  

two guys holding paddles in SUP leassion

We will be taking two 13’2 Voyager inflatable paddle boards with us, packed with dry-bags to keep our tent, gear and supplies safe and dry. The durability and reliability of the paddle boards was a key factor in deciding what brand to go for, and Red Paddle Co was the obvious choice.  

We plan to paddle from dawn-to-dusk, and aim to camp on the banks of the lake throughout the journey. Our biggest challenge is not the distance, but the conditions. Patagonia is the windiest place on the planet outside of Antarctica, with gusts exceeding 100kph on a regular basis. We are essentially at the mercy of the weather, and fully expect to have days in which we are simply paddling to remain still, and hopefully others with a tailwind that should propel us towards our destination (wishful thinking!).  

Due to paddle boarding being a new skill to us, we have adapted our training regime to incorporate muscles and movements that we have yet to utilise. Core work has become a real focus during our gym sessions, and we are now comfortable through a range of motions on balance boards and Swiss balls. Shoulder and back exercises have also been added to our usual training plan, building muscle and flexibility to help prevent injury during the thousands of paddle strokes that will hopefully guide us to the finish line. 

What lies ahead will be full of highs-and-lows but we know that those final strokes of the paddle to the finish line, will be the best moment of 2017 without a doubt. That is what we are focusing on through the punishing training, and it will remain our focus through the tough times ahead.” 

Over the coming weeks we will be looking back over the highs and lows of this epic adventure and hear how the Tempest Two got on during this incredible journey.  

 Header image: Ben Read Photography