Team Fat Paddler is all about fun, adventure, and perhaps a spot of paddling travel. Each year we take on some big charity events, do some crazy challenges to push ourselves and whenever possible get out to see the world. Here are the top ten stories on Events, Travel & Adventures as viewed on FatPaddler.com during 2012. Cheers, FP
Despite my clear preference for being water-bourne, this is not a story about paddling. Rather it is about getting outside and reminding yourself what it is like to truly challenge yourself and importantly, to LIVE. A crazy event from the USA called Warrior Dash branched out to stage its first international event here in Australia, on a plot of land a good hour’s drive north of the city. The event bills itself as “The craziest fricken’ day of your life”, and very much lived up to its claim. The event website describes it as follows:
Warrior Dash is a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. This fierce running series is held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer and warrior helmets.
For someone like me with pretty substantial injuries, this was going to be extremely difficult, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete it. Which is what made it all the more attractive… especially with the promise of beer and roast turkey legs at the end! [ Read More ]
Folklore has it that for generations, Territorians had measured the long distances between isolated towns by the number of beers consumed on the journey. The discarded cans collected in great drifts on the side of the Territory’s highways, the depth varying according to the average rate of consumption.
Official records are scarce and memories of those times understandably fuzzy, but around the time Cyclone Tracy razed Darwin to the ground in 1974, discarded beer cans on the side of the road had become a problem. The Darwin Lions Club came up with a creative solution that would promote civic pride, clean the highways and ultimately create one of the most distinctive and unique tourist experiences Australia has to offer — the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta. [ Read More ]
The first day saw us do a guided boat tour up Katherine Gorge. I had never been before, and I was just blown away by how ruggedly stunning it was. The water was dropping, but it was just awesome to think that the river were heading up peaks some 20 metres above where we were currently gliding along its surface. It also reminded me that Katherine River is home to freshwater crocodiles, and on a good day, some rogue saltwater crocodiles as well. Apparently, they can cause “injury or death”. Reassuring.
In the afternoon, we got a lesson in first Australian culture at gallery and experience destination Top Didj. It was a back to basics experience, and I learnt a little about the local people, their lifestyle and got to share in a very small amount of their teaching. It was humbling, relaxing and refreshing. I don’t think Albert Namatjira’s estate has anything to worry about from my attempt at art. [ Read More ]
Something really exciting has happened in the world of kayaking recently – the launch 4 months back here in Australia of the e-magazine Paddlemag. It covers stories across all paddling disciplines – white water, canoeing, marathons, surfski, and anything else that involves gripping a paddle and getting wet.
There’s over 60 pages in the free PDF download of Paddlemag, and it’s well worth the read. Plus rumour has it there might be a little story on Mauritius in there (see photo below for a clue!). Download it today, pull up a comfy chair and immerse yourself. [ Read More ]
Our first downwind race, and both Nat and I awoke early (4am) feeling sick with nerves. The official pre-Shamaal Race, known as Sporty’s Downwind Dash (named after a paddling character renowned for paddling INTO the wind) was on. 16km outside the reef, coming in through the infamous Le Morne Channel. This was our first ever downwind race, and second time at sea proper, and neither of us felt very well.
The race itself would begin with a rolling start throughout the lagoon, a turn towards the Tamassa pass through the reef, a long run down the coast outside the reef, then a hard turn into the infamous Le Morne Channel, a reef pass on the south-west tip of the island. The Le Morne pass is known for ridiculously huge waves both to the left and right, and is the focus of much of the mythology of the Mauritius Shamaal. [ Read More ]
We saw a couple of freshwater crocodiles, but the professional photographers were far quicker in catching them on film before I barely caught a glimpse of them. They were mainly small freshies, in the two to three metre range. They were far more scared of us than we were of them, which is good, because I was reasonably apprehensive before the first sighting. I was scared all over again when I saw what they use to catch rogue saltwater crocs this far down the river. Picture in your minds eye a 10 metre long Amplimesh cage, open at one end with a large piece of meat dangling in the other end just above the waterline. Matt, the guide, helpfully pointed out there hadn’t been “many” pulled out this year, but there had been some more than six metres in length recorded. As I said before, happy we didn’t see any of those. [ Read More ]
Another year, and another Hawkesbury Canoe Classic 111km night paddling ultra-marathon done. Only this year I wasn’t alone, with Team Fat Paddler swelling in size to 20 paddlers and 30 land crew, with the now huge group creating an atmosphere of fun, friendship and camaraderie.
But the year was very different for me, at least from the point of view on being on the water. I’d made a switch from the open canoe to my trusty Stellar SR surfski, a boat I’ve paddling all year and love. The change in boat also changed other dynamics which unfortunately I hadn’t really prepared for properly – I was wetter and colder for starters, and hadn’t taken enough changes of clothes to last the whole night. The end result was a long night paddling very cold, with officials twice suggesting I be pulled out the race due to the possibility of hypothermia setting in. [ Read More ]
It’s quite the journey from Sydney to Mauritius, with the Team Fat Paddler crew of Nat, Josh and your’s truly arriving after 20 hours of door to door travel. But what a paradise to arrive to – warm sunshine, azure seas and the friendly banter of South African and Aussie paddlers.
With many paddlers arriving late on the Tuesday night, wednesday’s scheduled “Sporty’s Downwind” race was postponed a day and a practice paddle was held instead. I discovered to my horror that my Stellar surfski, which we’d shipped over from Sydney, had been damaged in transit, with a nice big crack through the hull in front of the footwell. Hastily I taped it up, slipped on my PFD and carried the ski down to the waters edge. [ Read More ]
The Lifestart Kayak for Kids is a great charity race held each year on Sydney Harbour. This year 900 paddlers took to the water and raised donations for the great work that Lifestart does helping children with developmental needs such as Down Syndrome and Autism. The charity itself has involvement with some family members of Team Fat Paddler and is an event we never miss.
Apart from the funds we raised as a team, it’s also a great reason to get out on the water with your friends. Whether you like a social paddle or a competitive hit-out, the 17km race gives ample opportunity to get whatever paddle you want. Normally for me this event has been all about fun, but this year the event took a different tack, as my surfski rival and best mate Nat from SydneySurfski.com eyed me off for race honours. [ Read More ]
It’s been just over a week now since the 2012 Mauritius Ocean Classic and I’ve had some time to think about the event and what it meant to me. What started out as an almost insurmountable physical and mental challenge, ended up being a magical event on a beautiful tropical island that brought together amazing people from around the world who competed against each other whilst also sharing advice, stories and importantly, friendship.
There aren’t many events where a complete numpty paddler like myself can rub shoulders with and line up against the very best in the world. Not only could I share the same space, but the world’s best were happy to share a laugh and a joke, and later even a beer or two. I had such an amazing time surrounded by positive, happy and healthy people that I almost forgot about the sheer terror I felt at the mountainous waves that I’d be facing each day off the reefs of southern Mauritius. [ Read More ]