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David Williams (L) with his son-in-law Stephen Pitkethly
David launching the boat ahead of the circumnavigation back in 1968

A British entrepreneur is celebrating 50 years since he became the first person to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight… in a self-built pedal boat. 

That 60 mile, 12.5 hour round trip was made by David Williams in the summer of 1968 in a self-designed vessel he dubbed ‘Cyclone’. The 2-seater prototype – and the incredible, record-setting journey it embarked on – launched David’s family run business ‘Dad’s Boats’, which is still going strong today.

To mark the anniversary year of his successful mission, the original craft will take pride of place among the company’s modern-built counterparts when Dad’s Boats arrives at the London Boat Show 2018, which runs at ExCeL London, from 10th-14th January next year.

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Speaking about his extraordinary feat, which he completed with friend Jeremy Buckland, he says:

“We were in our 30s then and it is hard to believe that it in 2018 it will be 50 years since we pedalled around the Isle of Wight.

“By the end of the day, we had completed what was a unique circumnavigation of that island. To celebrate that at the London Boat Show with my family is very special indeed.”

David, now aged 83, remembers the day he took to the waters off the Isle of Wight clearly, as may the sceptical coastguard who they’d alerted beforehand.

He set off from Alverstoke on the south coast near Gosport, crossing the Solent and then heading west, lapping the Island in an anti-clockwise direction, with Bembridge being the pair’s final ‘corner’.

He adds:

“We picked a day during our week’s holiday when I thought the weather would be best, and we planned an adventure.

“Jeremy and I decided to notify the Coastguard. He was, to say the least, dubious about our plan. But as well as having confidence in Cyclone, we had also checked the tides and so were quite sure of our mission.

“Perhaps today people would be a little more safely conscious, and I didn’t know the water well but had a great sense of adventure to achieve this goal and that’s exactly what we did.”

That day in 1968 was the day the foundations of Dad’s Boats were laid and David has grown the Norfolk-based firm to become one of Britain’s most endearing boating manufacturers. His hand-crafted, luxury pedal boats have a unique design which allows 2 people to face each other and pedal in comfort.

Back for its 64th year, the London Boat Show returns in January celebrating everything you can do and enjoy on the water. Bringing a world of inspiration and on-water experiences visitors will be treated to 5 days of the very latest in the watersports world.  For more details, and to book tickets, head to https://www.londonboatshow.com.

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