I don’t believe I am alone in this feeling, that there are times in your life when you are forced to reflect on what it is you have achieved thus far, and what you hope to achieve going forwards. Attending Jaime Sharp’s presentation on Wednesday at Cap U really made me consider what I hope to achieve in my own paddling as my skills improve and I aim to expand my own horizons.

Jaime Sharp, Tara Mulvany & PG Porsanger

Jaime spoke of the expedition to paddle around Svalbard as a dream that he had had since he was young, and that every paddle he completed leading up to the trip was an attempt to prepare him physically and mentally for it. Even when he could take the easy route he did not, such as when he paddled around parts of New Zealand where accommodation and food were easily accessible, he chose to carry all his food to emulate the circumstances he would be in on the Svalbard paddle.

And that preparation and determination led to the success of the trip. Listening to him talk on Wednesday, the rousing sense of achievement that he felt was tangible. His dream had been realised and it had largely been down to his own drive to bring together the right team who could do it together.

Jaime Sharp paddle svalbard with ice cliffs and glaciers behind him

Now, I don’t pretend to dream anywhere near as big as an Jaime’s. I am well aware that my own skill level [and comfort level!] are somewhere far below his own, but I know that the sense of achievement is equally as possible. So. This spring I am setting my sights on trying to accomplish something I have never done before, a multi-day kayak trip where all supplies have to be taken with you. Now I am not going to Northern Norway to do this, I am heading to the Broken Group on the west side of Vancouver Island, but for me, that will be my Svalbard.

It is so important to have people like Jaime travel around the world, talking about their endeavours. Not so that you feel the need to try to emanate or better their paddles, but to inspire you to create your own. As one of our regular paddlers said at the end of Wednesday’s night, it makes you want to go paddle. And for whatever level of paddler you are, that’s all we can ask.

Hopefully this inspires you to go paddle. Take a lesson to learn something new, try a SUP or surfski for something different, or go somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s all about being involved in the world and having those experiences that make you want to tell other people about them.

So thank you to Jaime; keep on having your adventures and telling us about them. Can’t wait to hear about what you are doing next!

Jaime Sharp and polar bear at svalbard