Blind daredevil takes up river challenge
by Kurt Bayer 17th August, 2007
A BLIND daredevil is planning to become the first person to use a white water sledge down more than 46 miles of Scotland’s longest river.
Dean Dunbar, who suffers from a rare eye condition, has devoted his life to tackling the world’s most adreanine-charged sports.
He has racked up a dazzling list of extreme achievements, including bungee jumping, parachuting, cliff-jumping, jungle trekking, scuba diving, snowboarding, and wakeboarding.
Now, the 38-year-old thrillseeker is taking on his biggest challenge yet by hydro-speeding down the River Tay.
Hydro-speeding is a new extreme sport that involves a person lying face down on a plastic craft, legs hanging in the water. Mr Dunbar will start at Loch Tay on September 1 and wind his way down to Perth.
He is aiming to make the journey in just three days and will be assisted by John Strang, owner of Perthshire-based adventure company, Nae Limits, who will kayak alongside him to ensure his safety.
The Blairgowrie adrenalin junkie , who suffers from rod and cone dystrophy, said he fell in love with hydro-speeding on a recent trip to New Zealand.
He said: “I’ve been looking for a new challenge and this just presented itself as a great idea.
“I’ve been practising on the River Isla and doing 8km (five mile) stinits, which I’m finding really hard graft, so it will be a huge challenge for me.”
He added: “As far as I know, this trip has never been done before by anyone, never mind a registered-blind person.”
Mr Dunbar caught the adrenalin bug in 1998 when he did a charity skydive. Since then, he has tried every “dangerous” sport he could find, and with the help of his wife Rhona, he is beginning to run out of things to test him.
His most frightening adventure, he says, was when he bungee jumped out of a helicopter. He said: “I’ve had a few people with similar conditions contact me to say they found what I had done inspiring, but to be honest that’s not really what I’m about.
“I just want to try these things out.”
by Kurt Bayer
Press & Journal