After a disappointing attempt to paddle the perimeter of Chile’s Isla Grande Tierra Del Fuego barely six months ago, New York City sea kayaker Marcus Demuth affirmed his place as one of the world’s best – if least known – expedition paddlers with an 80-day circumnavigation of the 2,450-mile coastline of Great Britain. Demuth survived the whirlpools and standing waves of massive tidal races and England’s notoriously rugged coastline – not to mention a particularly memorable party at a Scottish pub. His blazing-fast pace shattered the previous solo record and beat legends Paul Caffyn and Nigel Dennis’ landmark 1980 expedition by five days.
Demuth, a German ex-pat musician and sea kayak guide, has quietly logged a diverse array of expeditions. On their South American expedition, Demuth and fellow NYC-based paddler Biff Wruszek were holed up by strong winds and eventually were forced to pull the plug just past the 1,100-mile trip’s halfway point. After successful expeditions in Wales, Ireland and Australia, Demuth says his most recent experience in Chile “left a bad taste” in his mouth. Not only was the trip hampered by high winds, he was also misled by a local and had his sea kayak stolen. Demuth says the best thing he could do was get back on the horse with the dauntingly long UK expedition.
“I thought the best thing to do to close the unfortunate chapter of Tierra Del Fuego was to do a trip I’ve had in mind since I started kayaking,” says Demuth. “All the other trips I’ve made in the past were more an excuse not to go around the UK because the trip seemed incredibly long.”
While Demuth regularly updates his website (www.marcusdemuth.com) and occasionally blogs, he says he loves his under the radar status in the sea kayaking world – hence his fanfare-free approach to Great Britain. “It always seems that when I announce my trip and run a dedicated for the expedition the trip goes wrong and I find it embarrassing,” he says. “The trips I made without letting anyone know were all successful and more fun. I also find I am doing it for myself, which makes it a more rewarding experience.”
Demuth credits his successful expedition to the people he met along the way. “Like on no other trip, I realized how smelly, dirty and ugly I became during the trip,” he says. “[But] people invited me straight into their house…and often asked me to stay for the night.” He returns to the U.S. this week – just in time to defend his 2009 title at the New York Mayor’s Cup Race. – Conor Mihell