Group to kayak up Gironde River

A group of ex-servicemen are to re-create the journey in which a pioneering transatlantic yachtsman made his name.

Before Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler finished second in the inaugural OSTAR race behind Sir Francis Chichester in 1960, he led a Royal Marine mission 70 miles in kayaks up the Gironde River to try and destroy the harbour in Nazi-occupied Bordeaux.

Blondie was one of only two men out of 10 to survive the weather, tides and enemy patrols in December 1942, as the rest either drowned or were shot.

After the war, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, Blondie invented the first wind-vane autopilot and organised the first ever solo, transatlantic race, which is still held every four years.

Now another group of men will take on the challenge, paddling up the river before cycling the 100 mile route that Hasler used for his escape.

The team aim to raise £60,000 for Help for Heroes and the RNLI and will set off for France in June on the 66th anniversary of D-Day.

To follow the voyage visit