A love of paddling.

By Jim on Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today the 19th April 2013, marked the day I would end my single paddling at open level competition. The thought of stopping what you love is always hard, sometimes there is reality. I still will compete in surf life saving but not at open level.

In 1986 I went to a place called Moana in South Australia, 14years old and didn't have a clue what the sport of surf life saving was about, then next I went to Perth on the Western Side of Australia to learn a little more. I travelled the country for many more years learning about this wonderful sport.  

It wasn't until 1990 that I learnt how to train and race, oh boy did  I have to learn this in a hurry, I'm the same age as Clint Robinson. In 1990 I came second to Clint in the ski race at the Australian Surf Championships, it was from there I thought well if I can race in a race some what close to him then maybe I could do kayaking as well.

So in 1991 I got involved in kayaking and was fortunate enough to compete at the Olympics in 1996 in the same team as the friend that inspired me in my paddling career Clint Robinson.

So what is it that is so special about surf lif saving, it's the only sport in the world that teaches you to save lives, race against Olympic Gold Medalist who are just as nervous as you about their chances of getting through the next round. For me the greatest thing has been the mate ships that you form, whether they are from your home city, another town or the other side of the country. 

Why would I get involved in the sport of life saving if I was a young kid starting out as a kid. 

The sport of paddling, is one that is so enjoyable. You race in singles, double and relays with your mates, some days you get lucky and some days your not so lucky and get hammered by the ocean. It's a sport where not always the fastest on paper end up the winners. You travel this great country, you get to meet people from all different walks of life who share a passion for saving lives on your local beach, then going to another beach and racing people from all the other clubs. It's the learning skills of helping as team, putting tents up and down, loading trailers and just enjoy funny stories about races from years ago

Thank you to all my fellow competitors from this weekend and years before, I have loved every single race that I have had with you, no matter what the outcome I have always enjoyed it.

 I hope to see all of you in the masters and those still with many years of racing left I look forward to seeing you racing to the best of your ability.