AN URGENT appeal has been issued to help a historic Isle of Wight event.
The 62nd Sandown to Shanklin sea swim race is due to take place on Saturday August 9, but is in jeopardy due to the insufficient number of kayak/canoeists currently available.
Safety officer Bob Cooper said: "The safety of the swimmers is our paramount concern. We are required by the insurance to have a certain number of first line safety boats to the number of swimmers who can participate.
"These first line safety boats are kayaks/canoeists that paddle along near the swimmers and if a swimmer gets problems they are immediately there to secure the swimmer. Then one of the lifeboats comes in and takes over the care of the swimmer.
"The Island Kayak Club have done a super job for us for many years, and still do, but due to the nationwide respect this event holds in the sea swimming and triathlon world the numbers grow each year. We have had 180 entries for this year’s event, but with the known availability of first line safety craft we are going to have to accept only around 100.
"We hate to turn people away, but we will have to if we can't recruit some more kayakers/canoeists to provide the extra safety cover. So we’re putting out an urgent appeal to any kayakers/canoeists who can operate on the sea to help make this the biggest swim yet."
The swim is still known as the Pier to Pier, although Shanklin Pier was demolished in 1993 having been severely damaged in the 1987 storms.
The swim is part of the Shanklin Regatta, and has been run on behalf of the Shanklin Regatta Committee for the last 11 years by Isle of Wight Marlins Swim club.
Sandown Inshore Lifeboat manages on-water safety cover with support from Ryde Rescue and Shanklin Deep Sea Fishing Club.
Adrian Brown, of Isle of Wight Kayak Club, said: "Kayaks are the ideal close-in escort craft, as they can safely get close to the swimmers and provide immediate help if it is needed. Even when safety help isn’t needed, we often have to correct swimmers’ navigation, as they can’t always see too well where they are heading.
"I’d love to hear from any local kayakers, or canoeists who think they may be able to help out on the day. It’s a great deal of fun for them too, and not too difficult."
Anyone who is interested and available should contact Adrian Brown, phone 01983 862910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org