A few weeks ago the kayaking world was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of Eric Soares, co-founder of the Tsunami Rangers and well-loved extreme kayaker. This larger than life personality had been an enormous source of inspiration to other paddlers and shared his experiences and knowledge with other paddlers through his blog TsunamiRangers.com.
I had never met Eric, but had got to know him via his blog and through email around a year ago after becoming friends with fellow Tsunami Ranger Jim Kakuk. My growing love of rock gardening was challenged by a lack of local mentors and I had turned to Eric for advice and guidance, showing him clips of my experiences amongst the rocks and getting feedback on what I could have done better. Eric was always generous in his advice, brutally honest and unafraid to tell me off when he thought I’d been reckless. At the same time he was enthusiastic about my attempts, keen to see my skills grow and had a clear understanding of the absolute rush that rock gardening provides. Simply, he understood.
As a grown man it is difficult to reach out to mentors, but Eric willingly assumed the role for so many. His accomplishments went so much further than just kayaking of course, both in athletic pursuits (he was a Black Belt in Jiujitsu) and professional pursuits (he was a Professor of Marketing and a prolific author). He was one of those people who seemed to do nothing by halves, but rather embraced all his pursuits with vigour and determination. One of his later blog posts about what it takes to be a true man was contentious to many because it listed all of his own achievements as the benchmark, but regardless of how you looked at it, the fact was the man WAS an over-achiever in many different ways and near impossible to match.
When I heard of Eric’s passing I admit it affected me far more than I expected. His prior brush with death and the experience of rebuilding his health post-surgery had resonated with me and my own experiences greatly. When you have been that close to the end and come back you have a tendency to feel almost immortal, but the truth is we are all far from it. My growing friendship with this incredibly charismatic man had come to a halt all too soon, and I struggled with the finality of it all. Of course, my sense of loss would be nothing compared to that of his wife Nancy, his family and his close friends, and to them I offer my sincere condolences.
Eric was a great man and will be remembered fondly by all he touched, myself included. If I learnt anything about Eric during my many emails with him, it was that he had an incredible passion for life and truly embraced the wonder of it. During our short friendship I often produced videos for him and felt that to celebrate his wonderful life, I should make one last video in tribute showing him doing what he loved so much – kayaking with his friends the Tsunami Rangers. I hope you enjoy my final tribute to him. Cheers, FP