Thai Life

Phuket’s little Bird on the water paddles her heart out

PHUKET: Rapturous applause and the roar of fog horns at Yacht Haven Marina signaled the end of 11-year-old Victoria Bird’s epic sea adventure – and a landmark moment in Phuket’s maritime history.

Victoria, her Ironman athlete father Les, 59, and kayaking instructor Rob Ford paddled more than 120 kilometers around Phuket, completing the first recorded kayak circumnavigation of the island.

“I’m exhausted but feel great, I will remember this for the rest of my life,” said Victoria.

The team paddled in midday heat and in the dark of night to complete their five-day circuit just after noon on February 16.

Father Les said the challenge was tough going, with a few setbacks along the way.

Paddling around Phromthep Cape in heavy seas, Les capsized and at one point the team tied all three kayaks together and used them as a raft to make it safely to the next bay.

Team Bird also had to contend with boat traffic, exhaustion and unpredictable weather and tide changes on the trip.

But Les said Victoria was determined to finish and giving up for her was not an option.

“To see this from such a young girl is truly phenomenal,” said the Bird’s safety boat captain, Australian mariner Bill O’Leary.

“This was a massive undertaking for her, and I feel very proud to have been a part of this great challenge. I’m sure Victoria will go on to accomplish great things in her life based on the remarkable bravery she showed during this adventure.”

Victoria’s accomplishment also raised more than 32,000 baht for children under the care of the 100 Friends international foundation and Phuket Sunshine Village.

“We sometimes underestimate what children can achieve, but this is proof that with the right support they can do great things,” said Rob Ford, Headmaster of Primary at British International School, where Victoria is a student.

Les now plans to swim the English Channel in July. Victoria will join Les on the trip, but will stay on board the safety boat on that occasion.

— Fraser Morton

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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