John Jacoby dominated the world in canoe marathon in the mid-late 1980’s, winning three successive world cup canoe marathons before becoming the inaugural International Canoe Federation (ICF)canoe marathon world champion at the 1988 event in Nottingham, United Kingdom. After the 1988 World Championship, he retired from ICF events to concentrate on adventure racing.
John competed in the 1987 Coast to Coast adventure race in New Zealand’s South Island in the two-day team event with fellow Australian Andrew Maffett, coming in second place. In the following year he entered the “Longest Day” category of the event, competing in the race as an individual and completing the 238 kilometres (148 miles) of mountain running, road cycling, and river kayaking within one day. John won the event, in a time of 12:02:59 hours. John would go on to win the Coast to Coast on two subsequent occasions: in 1989 and in 1993, and was third in 1991.
John has competed in many other international adventure races and epic adventures. Together with Chris Porter, Andrew Maffett and Jim Bucirde, all experienced sea kayakers, John circumnavigated the sub-antarctic island of South Georgia in January 2015. Their 500km paddle around this wilderness oasis, 1500km north-east of the Antarctic peninsula, saw them encounter massive icebergs, powerful ocean swells and ferocious storms. Despite the challenges, they managed to complete their journey faster than the three teams who had circled South Georgia previously and having made such good time, they then traversed the island! They followed in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who landed there in 1916, and were the first team to have completed both a crossing and circumnavigation of the island. The group was named Australian Geographic Adventurers of the Year 2015 and received the 2015 Australian Canoeing Olegas Truchanas Canoeing Award. In the same year John and fellow adventurer Brian Freeman, paddled across the Bass Strait unsupported from Wilsons Promontory in Victoria to Little Musselroe Bay in Tasmania in under 60 hours.
He was inducted into the Paddle Australia Hall of Fame in 2019.