With the Shaw and Partners Paddle of Aus well underway, we catch up with Bonnie Hancock to discuss the training, planning and logistics that began many months before she would reach the starting point at mermaid beach.
What was the biggest challenge for you personally, in the lead up to the launch day?
Bonnie: “The biggest challenge for me was trying to not let everything get to me, with media interviews, packing and working all while still training, there was a lot of different things going on while I was trying to focus on getting my body and mind ready to start the paddle and I’m feeling relieved that we’ve started so now I get to focus on just paddling.”
In the lead up to day one how did your training change knowing you would be paddling 80 to 100+ kilometres on a daily basis?
Bonnie: “Knowing I was going to be paddling huge distances every day I wanted to make sure that going into day one I was feeling as good as possible. So to make sure I wasn’t sore from training I had a really good taper week, going from training twice a day every day with big sessions to the last week before day one only paddling smaller distances and reducing the number of sessions, this taper paired with massages and more recovery ensured I had no soreness going in and I really felt great going in.”
How important was it for you to have a support boat and how did you find Velella?
Bonnie: “So important, both the boat and JetSki have been very useful, the JetSki is useful in very tricky locations that the boat can’t access, the boat is extremely useful as I have a crew of 7 or so watching out for me in rough conditions which allows me to focus more on my performance and less on safety as well as (conditions permitting) get on the boat to have massages and eat food whilst still out at sea. It essentially allows me to paddle longer distances more safely.”
What inspired you to take on this challenge?
Bonnie: “Reading Freya Hoffmeister’s book! I really love autobiographies, I read several politicians like Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and then a bunch of other celebrities and I was in Broadbeach library and saw the book, and was stricken by the title “Fearless”. I borrowed fearless and at the same time Jessica Watson’s book and the combination of both inspired me and this was the right time for me to do it from a career and life perspective.”
After reading the book, did you immediately feel drawn to go for the record, or did it take a while for you to warm to the idea?
Bonnie: “It really didn’t take long, I started thinking that I could do that too (paddle around Australia) and then I found out the time and thought I think I could do it quicker so I applied for the Guinness world record and here we are! But yes it really didn’t take long for my competitive spirit to kick in!”
Now that the paddle has begun, have the first few days gone the way you expected?
Bonnie: “I think probably a bit better than expected, the northerlies were great and to be able to surf runs almost like when I did the Molokai to Oahu was awesome, I’ve been really grateful to have those northerlies this week and with the winds about to change, it’s been great to at least start with favourable conditions.”
With day four now complete Bonnie has completed over 250 kilometres of the approximately 16,000km journey around Australia, the journey has only just begun and all going well in just under six months time she will paddle into Mermaid Beach setting the record for the youngest and fastest person to paddle around Australia!
-Written by Ben Lavery for paddleofaus.com