Shannon paddle-board run a rehearsal for major Ganges trip

Activists hope to raise awareness of pollution and water quality on major Indian river

Spike Reid, Shilpika Gautam and Pascal Dubois began the river Shannon trip from source to sea on June 30th and plan to finish in Limerick on Thursday after two weeks on the water. File photograph: Ganges SUP/Facebook

Spike Reid, Shilpika Gautam and Pascal Dubois began the river Shannon trip from source to sea on June 30th and plan to finish in Limerick on Thursday after two weeks on the water. File photograph: Ganges SUP/Facebook

 

A full descent of the river Shannon on paddle boards is being nearing completion by a team of three UK-based environmental campaigners.

Spike Reid, Shilpika Gautam and Pascal Dubois, going under the team name Ganges SUP (stand-up paddle boarding), started what they claim is the first such river Shannon trip from source to sea on June 30th and plan to finish in Limerick on Thursday after two weeks on the water.

Practice run

The expedition is a practice run for the team’s paddle board trip thousands of kilometres down the River Ganges to the Bay of Bengal starting in September, which is expected to take three months.

The team is battling unseasonably strong winds, often having to kneel on the boards to avoid gusts. They say the reception and hospitality they have received from locals and river authorities along the route has been hugely positive.

Spike, qualified as an International Mountain Leader, has family in Dublin and Wicklow and said it was a great way to see a “marvellous country” and experience Irish hospitality.

“At paddle boarding pace you get to meet more people and engage with the local wildlife,” he said.

The team’s Ganges trip aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution and water quality in what is one of the world’s most polluted rivers, which supports about 10 per cent of the world’s population.

Water sampling will be conducted en route by Dubois, who is undertaking a masters in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London.

Gautam, also known as

“Shilps”, last year changed from a career in finance to return to India where she grew up and campaign for a cleaning-up of its waterways while at the same time encouraging women to participate in such activities.

‘A lot of stereotypes’

“For an Indian girl its breaking a lot of stereotypes. And keeping my mother awake at night,” she quips.

The team will be met with greater challenges than wind when they attempt the Ganges route, where dysentery is a constant threat and some of the 11 states they will travel through can pose safety risks, particularly for Shilpika as a woman.

The cost of the Shannon trip has been undertaken by the three friends independently.

However, they plan to crowdfund their main Indian trip and hope to secure the backing of scientific and environmental groups.

You can follow the team’s progress along the Shannon here: https://www.followmychallenge.com/live/GangesSUP/ShannonDescent/