Two try to break record time to cross between Malta and Sicily


Christopher Camilleri and his paddle partner Matthew Schembri will ride their surf-ski kayak on Wednesday to cross the Malta-Sicily Canal in record time.

The duo and longtime friends are due to set off from Spinola Bay at 6am with the hope of arriving in Marina Di Modica, Pozzallo in the afternoon.

It’s a long-sought challenge in the Camilleri family. On 21 June 2008, Camilleri’s wife, Maltese canoeist Nicki Borg Costanzi became the first Maltese woman to paddle from Malta to Sicily on a solo kayak trip. She achieved the feat in 15 hours and 57 minutes.

The current kayak record for the 92 km distance is in the hands of Joseph Schembri who completed the crossing in 14 hours and 30 minutes. The duo are aiming to cut that by an hour.

“We are very excited and happy to take on this challenge, with our main objective not only to promote kayaking, but also to raise awareness for the protection of our sea, which is ultimately our campaign,” said Camilleri. Malta weather.

Together Camilleri and Schembri have over 30 years of experience in competitive kayaking, and both have represented Malta in international competitions over the years.

They are also part of the ‘Surfski Shack’ group, a training club that supervises and teaches paddleboarders of all levels.

“Surf skiing is a discipline of kayaking which is ideal not only for racing but also for fitness, adventure and last year the school became the only accredited ‘Mocke Paddling School’ on the European continent. “, did he declare.

The duo, Schembri and Camilleri, have been paddling partners for over 16 years.

Speaking about the challenge, Camilleri recalled how he was part of the crew aboard the support boat that followed Nicki throughout her journey.

“In 2008 I was on the support boat, and tomorrow Nicki will be on the boat supporting us the whole way,” he said.

Throughout the eight months of intensive training, Camilleri and Schembri juggled six hours of training a day. And that came with hurdles – Camilleri first tested positive for COVID-19 in January, followed by Schembri in March. Yet they still managed to complete 90% of their training regimen.

“I’m very happy with the preparation, and we’re super excited just to go,” he said.

“Matthew and I have been paddling partners for 13 years, he’s like family and it’s going to be a lot of fun for us. I can only imagine the kind of conversations we’ll have.

The duo contacted different athletes in the kayaking community, including Albert Gambina and Dorian Vassallo.

Last summer, Gambina and Vassallo raised more than €20,000, after completing a 1,000km trip around Sicily.

“Although Matthew and I have kayaking experience, we are more suited to racing, not paddling such long distances,” he said.

“The main piece of advice we’ve received so far is that when you hit the 20km mark you think you’ll be very close to Sicily, but you’re not, you’re only at the two-thirds of the way and it’s more of a mind game.”

You can follow their challenge updates at and

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