Adrian Angell SUPs the Ohio River to raise money for Diabetes UK
Words: David Triggs & Adrian Angell
Pics: Jerry Schulte & Victoria Vidal
Adrian Angell, who grew up in the Cumbrian coastal village of Seascale before relocating to Cincinnati, Ohio, for work purposes, took nine and a half hours to complete his latest paddle boarding challenge. Previously, he has paddle boarded across the English Channel and from Fort William to Inverness, raising vital funds for Diabetes UK each time.
Adrian originally intended to fly back to the UK in June so he could paddleboard each of the major lakes in the Lake District, clocking 100 miles along the way to raise money.
However, the Covid-19 outbreak meant that Adrian, 54, had to remain in the United States for the time being – so instead he paddled 50 miles along the Ohio River on June 20th, 2020. The Ohio River is 981 miles long, starting at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ending in Cairo, Illinois, where it flows into the Mississippi River. Adrian still intends to complete the Lake District challenge, when it is safe to do so and when travel restrictions have been eased.
Adrian tried SUP for the first time after a couple of windless days on a windsurfing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 2007 and was immediately hooked. “I quickly realized some of the great things about paddle boarding are that you can do it anywhere there is water, you can chose the level of challenge for yourself, and with the right gear it can be a year round sport.”
Through his involvement in local races he developed an interest in longer distance paddling. Jim Terrell of Quickblade Paddles is from the Cincinnati area, and in June 2012 held clinics at the first SUP race on the Ohio River in Cincinnati. “I showed up with my surfboard style board and after looking around at the logos I quickly realized that if I wanted to be competitive I needed a proper race board and a Quickblade paddle!” Adrian paddled the Maui to Molokai race route in 2014, and has been a regular participant in the Chattajack 31-mile race.
Adrian took on his first paddle boarding challenge for Diabetes UK in 2018 following a suggestion by his niece Megan, 24, of Derby. “It really was all my niece’s idea,” he explained. Megan said, “You like paddleboarding. You should paddle across the English Channel and raise money for Diabetes UK.” I was like, “Yeah OK, I’ll do that!”
Adrian started the Ohio River paddle just after 06.00 on the morning of Saturday, June 20th, leaving the Moscow, Ohio, boat ramp and paddling for 50 miles, through Cincinnati, until he reached Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He was followed by his friend Jerry Schulte in a support boat, making sure he was safe by keeping an eye out for the commercial and leisure boat traffic. Jerry said, “I’ve known Adrian for a few years now and nothing that he does surprises me, especially on a paddle board.” Adrian carried a GPS tracker so that friends and family, both in Cincinnati and the UK, could follow his progress live.
Front of the draft
Some friends also joined to paddle with Adrian from miles 24 to 41. “It was great to see friendly faces and to feel the support along the way.” Adrian said he made a point to always be at the front of any draft train that developed. “It was tempting to draft, but since I was paddling for a challenge, and people were donating money based on the difficulty of what I was doing, I couldn’t have drafted and had a clear conscience.”
For the challenge, Adrian used a Starboard AllStar 14’x24.5” and a Quickblade V-Drive 91 paddle. “The AllStar was a great choice, with enough stability to get me through the chop later in the day without spending too much energy balancing.”
Adrian, who was featured on local TV news channels in America, said, “It was one of my toughest challenges. I had a good start with calm waters and shade. Later the heat of the day, headwind and rougher water from wind and boat wakes made the second half of the paddle hard work.” Adrian said that by the time he reached the 50-mile finish line in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, “Everything hurt!”
After a brief rest, Adrian paddled two more miles to a local boat ramp where his friends were waiting with some celebratory drinks. “Upon reflection, even though the distance of the fundraiser I paddled last year as part of the 57-mile Great Glen Challenge race was further, I had several breaks on land, which helped a lot to periodically use different muscles and relieve the stress on my body.”
He added, “My motivation for all this is to raise money for Diabetes UK and get exposure for the charity. They do great work, including a lot of research into diabetes, and are a huge support for people living with diabetes in the UK.”
Adrian, who has raised thousands of pounds for Diabetes UK since 2018, added, “Diabetes UK is a great cause. The charity carries out pioneering, world-class research and the impact of that research can improve the lives of people all over the globe. Some of that research has already benefited Megan, with better treatments and technologies available to help her live well.”
Adrian’s affinity with outdoor sports started when he was growing up in Cumbria. His parents were keen climbers and mountaineers. He started water sports in the 1980s, training as a windsurfing instructor before moving into SUP in 2007.
Adrian has been living in the United States, where he works as a chemical engineer, since 1995. He said, “I would like to thank everyone who came out along the route to cheer me on or sent messages of encouragement, and those who have supported Diabetes UK with donations online.”
Adrian has so far raised more than £1,000. You can sponsor him here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adrian-angell3