Paddler Profile – John Willacy

John started out on his paddling career in the early 1980’s. Along the way he has paddled whitewater in Norway, sea kayaks in the Falkland Islands and represented Great Britain in Wild Water Racing and Canoe Slalom. John has paddled across most of the canoesport disciplines and classes, and in many locations: France, Norway, Corsica, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Malta, Tasmania and the Falkland Islands. He is currently based on Anglesey in North Wales, from where he runs the PSK website when he isn't paddling.

Sea Kayak

John has extensive experience as a sea kayaker. He holds a number of solo sea kayak records and has completed two solo circumnavigations of the UK, the only person to have done so.

2012 UK Circumnavigation - 72 days - Clockwise Kayak Blog.
2015 UK Circumnavigation - 83 days - Anti-Clockwise Kayak Blog.

In 2012 he was awarded the Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year award by Canoe & Kayak UK magazine.

Sea Paddling Achievements:

Date Type Locn. Elapsed
2005 Circumnav: Holy Island  04:28
2014 Circumnav: Holy Island  02:56 Current Record
2007 Crossing: Irish Sea  (Holyhead-Dublin) 13:45 Record
2010 Crossing: Irish Sea  (St.George's Channel) 09:58 Current Record
2011 Crossing: Irish Sea  (North Channel) 03:25 Current Record
Crossing: Irish Sea  (North Channel) 04:30
Crossing: Irish Sea  (Holyhead-Dublin) 11:20 Current Record
2005 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  11:30 Record
2006 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:46 Record
2009 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:25 Record
2011 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  09:55 Record
2012 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  10:29
2014 Circumnav: Isle of Anglesey  09:24 Current Record
2015 Circumnav: Isle of Arran  09:15 Current Record
2014 Circumnav: Isle of Bute  05:34 Current Record
2017 Circumnav: Isle of Jura  09:56 Current Record
2010 Crossing: Isle of Man  (Wales) 08:21 Current Record
Circumnav: Isle of Man  12:38 Record
2012 Crossing: Isle of Man  (Wales) 10:48
Crossing: Isle of Man  (Northern Ireland) 07:26 Record
2014 Crossing: Isle of Man  (Scotland) 03:40 Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (Scotland) 03:34 Current Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (England) 05:46 Record
Crossing: Isle of Man  (England) 04:41 Current Record
2016 Circumnav: Isle of Man  10:33 Current Record
2011 Circumnav: Isle of Mull  19:34 Current Record
2016 Circumnav: Isle of Scarba  01:32 Current Record
2015 Circumnav: Isle of Wight  07:20 Current Record
2012 Crossing: Lundy  (Wales) 08:30 Record
Crossing: Lundy  (England) 05:13
2013 Crossing: Lundy  (England) 01:59 Current Record
Crossing: Lundy  (England) 02:29
2015 Crossing: Lundy  (Wales) 07:30 Current Record
2012 Multi-Day: UK Circumnav  (CW) 72 days Record
2015 Multi-Day: UK Circumnav  (CCW) 83 days
2003 Multi-Day: Wales Circumnav  (CW) 29 days
2012 Circumnav: Walney Island  03:10 Current Record


Since he began competing in 1984 John has raced in various disciplines, including: Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance/Sprint Racing. He has experience across the board: C1, C2, K1, K2 and K4 classes.


  • BCU Premier Division C1 Slalom: 1989 - 1997
  • GB Intermediate Squad paddler: 1988-1990
  • British Open C1 Champion: 1989(B), 1990(Slalom Sprint)
  • English C1 Champion: 1990, 1994
  • Welsh C2 Champion (with Geoff Forster)

Wild Water Racing

  • BCU Division A paddler 1991 - 2008
  • Great Britain C1 Champion: 1992, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008
  • British Open C1 Champion: 1992, 1999
  • Welsh Open C1 Champion: 2005

Great Britain Team:

  • World Championships Team: 1993, 1995, 1996, 2006
  • World Cup Team: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997
  • Bronze Medallist: Masters World Championships, 2006

Military Competition

John won his first Interservice Championship in 1987 and his last in 2008, taking 103 gold medals along the way. He also won over 70 Royal Air Force Championship titles, across various canoesport disciplines.
In 2007 he was awarded the British Forces Sportsman of the Year award.


John has been involved with coaching for more than 30 years, with coaching experience ranging from novice through to National Team paddlers. John holds his BCU Level 4 Inland Kayak and Level 4 Sea kayak qualifications, along with BCU competition coaching qualifications for Slalom, Wild Water Racing and Long Distance Racing.

He currently works as a coach for the Wales Canoe Slalom Team.

Kayak Design

John designed, tested and developed a number of sea kayaks whilst working for Rockpool Kayaks:

  • Taran 18
  • Taran 16
  • GT
  • Isel (part design)