My dad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in March this year, limiting his ability to walk, see and use the right side of his body. He inspired me to do Molokai 2 Oahu and has really been the catalyst for my passion of all ocean sports and my current lifestyle at the moment.
Just six months ago we were in Maui surfing together, nine months ago stand up paddling downwind together at home and just over a year ago he was on my support boat for M2O cheering me on and keeping my nutrition under control.
He has always been extremely fit and active and been a bit of a charger in the big surf. He actually shaped boards, KC Surfboards, in his late teens before going to university. He worked extremely hard while completing multiple ultra marathons, the Kona Iron Man, tow surfing Jaws (before everyone paddled it), kite surfing every day there’s wind and cycling and camping around Tasmania late last year.
The two photos in this article are fairly significant to me as they show who he is. This first aerial shot is him charging an outer reef in South-Western Australia. He had no idea the photo was even taken and didn't rave about how good a wave he caught. This is standard of Dad, he's fairly understated and just goes about his business. This photo was taken by Martine Perret, a fairly well accomplished photographer, who happened to be shooting one of her publications on this day called "Margaret River Region FROM ABOVE". This photo was the front cover of the publication and wasn't actually discovered by any of us until a few years later when there was an art exhibition in Margaret River with this photo. A friend of friend recognised the board, Dad stored this board at a mates place in WA, and basically word got back to us.
The second photo is of Dad and I following the Maui Paddleboard Race in 2014, dubbed the "Victory at Sea Race" by SUP Racer. This race epitomised why Dad got into Stand Up Paddling. A big storm had created wild conditions on the Maliko Run, with huge waves breaking along the outer reefs between Maliko Gulch and Kahului Harbour. Despite having little interest of paddling in a normal Maliko race with just wind chop, Dad jumped at the opportunity to compete in a race where there were solid waves breaking on the outer reefs. This was typical of Dad, his normal Maliko run was along the reef line, catching right-handers down the coast until he got to the harbour and until recently he would still enter Stand Up Paddle races if there was a solid swell running along the course.
His goal this year was to paddle Maui 2 Molokai Solo, the closest race to surfing on Stand Up Paddleboard. Obviously that didn’t happen but I wanted to paddle for Dad this year and raise money on his behalf to help others suffering from similar diseases. I set out to raise $100 per kilometre paddled across the 52km Kaiwi Channel. I’ve now raised just over $25,000 almost five times the amount I set out to raise just one week out from the race.
I really struggled coming to terms with the fact that Dad had this life threatening disease and hadn’t shared this with many people outside my immediate day to day circle of friends. This was mainly because of the emotions within that I really didn't want to face. I knew everyone would be supportive but I guess I didn't want the sad conversations, I didn't want to face the reality of it. It sucks and it might suck for a while longer but that's how it is for now.
Once sharing the news on social media just a week before the race I was completely overwhelmed with all the support, not only from the paddling community but the wider community. Hundreds of messages, shared stories of similar experiences, donations from far and wide, people stopping me in the street to chat or just give me a hug. It was really the best therapy and motivated me to do my very best while training and during race day not just for Dad but for everyone who had donated.
If you’d like to donate to my cause please CLICK HERE. All donations are going to CANTOO an awesome independent health promotion charity that focuses on Cancer Research as well as Cancer Prevention by inspiring and coaching people to do events they never thought to be possible. Maybe one day they'll add some stand up paddle events to their events program ;)