In spring of 2018 Sian Sykes undertook a circumnavigation of Wales by SUP (Stand-Up Paddle Board) to raise awareness about SUP (Single Use Plastics). Sian showed that world-firsts don’t need to be in far flung destinations, and that waste doesn’t just wash up on the exotic beaches of the South Pacific, but clogs our waterways too. Ian Finch documented part of the journey and offers us a photo essay on this remarkable feat.
Sian Sykes paddle boarded for 60 days via the coastline, inland waterways and rivers around the boundary of Wales. Her world-first expedition, covering 1000km, was to raise awareness of plastic pollution, especially that of single use plastics. This lengthy journey was entirely free of single use plastic, from toiletries to food.
My role as expedition photographer was to capture Sian’s endeavour and the three natural environments in which it took place; canals, rivers and coast. I believe that when you meet a person at this juncture - in a place where there is mental and physical exertion, at the cusp of risk and reward - there are incredible visual stories to be told. Each phase was a day-to-day grind, ultimately taking its toll on her hands and limbs. The final phase involved weeks beside the barrage and complexity of the Welsh coastline. Each phase had its immense challenges and moments of elation until she completed the journey where she began, Connah’s Quay.
Sian backs into one of many locks on the Shropshire Union canal
The hands that speak a thousand words
The vast open dunes at Borth Beach, Wales
A morning portrait. Tired, but as strong as ever
A golden moment in time never to be repeated
Jungle Severn - feels like the jungle, looks like the Severn
Working with the RNLI to find safe passage
Aberystwyth. Exiting safe harbour, bound for the wild coastline
Her board became everything; safety, mode of transport and her companion
Exiting into the haze of a lonely volcanic beach, Wales
Sian Sykes runs Psyched Paddleboarding based in Anglesey, and their website has much more information on Sian's SUP Against SUP journey and the fundraising that went with it.