Porthcawl to Foreland Point 6-8-2022
Swim time: 12hrs 7 minutes 31 seconds
Start: Sandy Bay Porthcawl
Finish: Foreland Point, Devon
Observer: Sian Clement
Swim Crew: Colin Hughes, Lucy Ashdown-Parkes
Pilot: Meuryn Hughes
Ratified by the BCSA.
Bristol Chanel, Round 6. Porthcawl to Glenthorne is an odd swim. Its 16 miles but all of the times to date are longer than you would expect. The tide around Porthcawl is ferocious. My pilot Meuryn and I had been working on a plot slightly different to the routes taken before to see if we could find that route through! All week the weather looked good for Saturday. The wind was due to pick up in the afternoon but I felt we had a good chance...so it was on.
Started amazing, perfect conditions, the conditions you dream about. We absolutely flew down the first leg, I felt the water change as we went over Nash Sand bank, shortly after the first feed, crikey, at that pace we will be in for lunch! Past nash point, slack tide, still pancake flat, make some progress...then the BC said no, not today sunshine! We then argued it out...for the next 9 hours; I said I'm going to devon, she said youre bloody well not!!
Wind picked up, over the tide and the chop got worse and worse. We got blasted west on the outgoing tide, way further than planned, feed after feed, it just didnt relent. The constant smashing on one side and having to breathe one way was making my shouder hurt...but not in a bad bad way.
Eventually it did smooth a little, I figured it was slack tide; confimed at the next feed. It was at this point I looked at Devon. Bloody hell thats the lighthouse, we are past the lighthouse...and its frickin miles away. Shit. Couple of dark moments in the next few hours...but ive been the one pushing the reverse route, south to north for me is about getting the boat in the right place to catch the push, North to south is about swimming 16+miles. There's nothing stopping the swim but me. And theres no reason to stop. There's no excuse going to cut it. It hurts and its still a bloody long way to go and it's wavey; no one cares, suck it up buttercup.
With the tide pushing back east the lighthouse started, very slowly, to creep closer. At this point it was just the long game. keep turning the arms over, keep feeding when they throw the bottle, just keep doing what your doing. Finally as the sun set we got inside foreland point. Good news on the one hand, bad news its extra distance to make the beach; about another kilometer!!!
Finishing a swim youre just waiting for the boat to stop its engines - the point you know youre in the shallows and its essentially done. That never seemed to come. They'd drop back....then sneak forward alongside me again, drop back, sneak forward!! Eventually they did stop, I swam in to the big slippy boulders of north devon and it was done, 12 hours and 7 minutes. Thanks god for that. Not the route through we had planned...but we put it on the beach and thats the thing that really matters! I think that was mentally the toughest of all the 5 swims Ive stuck across....but nothing great is supposed to be easy and Im counting myself pretty lucky to be in a position to have the discussion with Mother Nature; today was my day. 5:1 to me.
Massive thank you to Colin Hughes, Lucy Ashdown-Parkes and Sian Clement for crewing and observing and a huge thanks to Meuryn Hughes my pilot for his work in the planning and sticking with it when the going got tough and the day got longer and longer...but thats channel swimming for ya! Til the next one!
Tom Chapman Bristol Channel swim 6/8/22 Official Observer Report.
Swim started at Sandy Bay PorthCawl at 08:59 on 6/8/22 with calm seas and minimal wind. Tom fed after the first 1.5 hours then every 45 minutes from then on. Each feed consisted of 250ml of
maltodextrin with added fructose and ribena. After each feed, to reduce the risk of the boat engine
stalling due to idling so much, the boat evacuated a circuit at speed before coming alongside the
swimmer again. Between 13:30 and 14:30 the wind increased and by 14:30 the wind over tide
meant that the sea state had increased to moderate. The swimmer was moved to the port side of
the boat for shelter from the wind. From this time on the swimmer moved sides several times as the
glare from the sun versus shelter from the wind chop was taken into account. The wind also affected the boat being blown towards the swimmer when they were on the Port side and away when swimming on the Starboard side. With slack water the sea state settled slightly to slight to
moderate. Tom landed on the bay to the East of Foreland point, approximately 2/3 of the way from
Glenthorne to Foreland point therefore the swim has been deemed PorthCawl to Foreland Point.
Tom landed at 21:06 just as the sun was settling giving a swim time of 12 hours and 7 minutes all of which took place in daylight. Other than feeling tired and having a significant salt mouth at the end of the swim Tom was in good spirits.
In summary a successful swim from PorthCawl to Foreland point completed in testing conditions in a time of 12 hours and 7 minutes. Congratulations Tom.