Blind paddleboarder’s remarkable feat as he circumnavigates Kerrera
Oban Times, 11th June, 2015.
DEAN Dunbar, accompanied by Cathy Winterton of Oban, has made a rare, if not the first, circumnavigation of Kerrera on a SUP, a stand up paddleboard.
With water temperatures hovering between 8 and 10 degrees and with persistent winds, a paddleboard is hardly the mode of transport of choice in these parts as a swim is as inevitable as the next wave.
It is a sport that requires strength, skill and the balance of a tightrope walker. Consider that Dean is blind and his achievement takes on a new level.
Having started at Oban Yacht Club on May 30, it took almost three hours battling against a head wind to clear the southern end of the Sound of Kerrera.
Both paddlers admitted they wouldn’t have got this far without the pressure of letting the other down.
‘It was tough,’ said Dean, ‘three hours against wind, waves and tide meant three hours without rest.’
Forty five minutes later they passed Bach Island and finally had assistance from all three elements. The complete circumnavigation took just under six hours.
Dean suffers from rod and cone dystrophy, a progressive disease that currently leaves him with only a blurred ring of light around the outside of his field of vision. Despite this he has tried and succeeded in a multitude of extreme sports. He picks a sport, finds a guide and then comes up with challenging but irresistible ideas. He’s swum the Gulf of Corryvrecken, kayaked to Mingulay, skimmed the Alps on a miniature paraglider and attempted to swim the channel.
All these require an assistant’s expertise and full support from his GP wife, Rhona. But the majority of his hundreds of hours of training is done alone once the venue has been memorised and orientation systems developed.
His next outing on an SUP is under wraps but it will be bold and won’t involve hugging the coastline of a Scottish island.