The Fat Paddler chasing highs in surf and rough water

Sean Smith – The Fat Paddler

Sean is a big man chasing weekly paddling adventures. Whether in a kayak, a canoe or a surfski, you can be sure he’s out there somewhere with his Team Fat Paddler mates surfing, rock gardening or just splashing around and having a bloody good time.

The road to this point in the story had been long and dramatic.  Sports injuries and two major vehicle accidents left  Sean with an impressive list of reasons not to participate in an active lifestyle, with previous injuries including; nasal fractures (x14!) , femur fracture, femoral head fracture, rib fractures, multiple pelvis fractures, sacrum fractures, hand & finger fractures, ankle fracture, toe fractures and many more too numerous to list.

Could there be a better place to find oneself? Manly sunset, Sydney Australia

Could there be a better place to find oneself? Manly sunset, Sydney Australia

In early 2009 Sean decided to paddle his way back to good health. The initial goal: the 2009 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, a 111km river marathon done at night through the NSW country-side.  After 6 months of pre-race training he started the grueling race,  crossing the finish line after 18 hours of torturous paddling to the continued taunts of “Paddle you fat bastard!” from his own land crew (who unbelievably went on to win the official Landcrew Award).

Now he can often be seen paddling in one of his red boats on the various waterways of Sydney, and on occasion, throughout Australia and the rest of the world. Easily distinguished with an ear to ear grin and a bulbous profile, keep an eye out for him on your waterways and stop him and say hello!

The Fat Paddler – the book!

In 2011 Sean’s story of recovery was published in the book, The Fat Paddler. The print edition is available in most book stores in Australia and New Zealand. The Fat Paddler ebook is now available internationally via Amazon Kindle, Kobo eReader and the Apple iBookstore for iPad/iPhone.


Team Fat Paddler

In 2009 the very first Team Fat Paddler came together to support Sean’s attempt at the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. That initial group of friends that stood on the banks of the river hurling insults or cooking midnight meals has now grown into a team of paddlers and support crew that all share the Team Fat Paddler five main values:


Team Fat Paddler - all about having fun with friends

Team Fat Paddler – all about having fun with friends

Members of Team Fat Paddler are awarded rank by participation in sanctioned paddling, charity or adventure events and are then listed on the Officers page. In between events however there are weekly adventures and missions that usually involve a touch of fear, a dash of adrenaline and liberal serves of coffee and egg & bacon rolls.

Fat Paddler in the Media

Fat Paddler featured nationally across the News Ltd news network

Fat Paddler featured nationally across the News Ltd news network

5 October 2012 – A local story highlighting the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic ran in the Hornsby Advocate before being syndicated nationally across the News Ltd national network on sites such as the Daily Telegraph.

26 August 2012 – Video featured on international surski site Surfski.info as it’s Video of the Week.

16 July 2012 – Fat Paddler’s adventures in Mauritius covered by Mauritius Tourism site, VisitMauritius.com.

1 June 2012 – Fat Paddler’s trip to Mauritius announced by Shake It Up (Parkinsons Disease research foundation).

13 December 2011 – “Berowra Waters a favourite for Fat Paddler” – local story in the Hornsby Advocate.

26 August 2011 – Book review on ABC National Radio by Clare Calvet.

23 July 2011 – Feature story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Full Story Here.

7 March 2011 – An interview on ABC National Radio show “Life Matters” with Richard Aedy about career change quickly turns to paddling and FatPaddler.com. Listen to the 8 minute broadcast here.

26 July 2010 – A feature on the Fat Paddler written by Melinda Ham ran in the Sydney Morning Herald before being syndicated across the Fairfax national network. Full story here.

Oarinspiring - Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2

ABC National Radio - LifeMatters - Interview with Sean Smith

FP on Executive Style, Sydney Morning Herald. What style??

The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith

The Fat Paddler ebook – available now on iTunes, Amazon & Kobo.

42 thoughts on “About

  1. Hey Sean – nice photos mate. Sydney harbour at 6.30 am is a great place to be. I paddled across from Lane Cove to Balmain a couple of times and it is fab. I’ll look out for you on the water. Good luck with the Hawkesbury classic – I like the sound of that.
    Cheers, Mark

  2. I wish you luck on your endevour. If you dream it, you can do it. If you were closer, I would make you a custom yak to paddle. One Fat Paddler to another… where real men break the waves.

  3. Thanks Kev. Your kayaks are a thing of beauty btw, very VERY impressed! 🙂

  4. Kit, ur pal from the USA

    Hi Sean:

    Where can I buy some tee-shirts? And I mean BUY.



  5. Merchandise details coming soon Kit, as you’re not the only one asking! In the next week or so I’ll put up details, initial range will be tshirts, car/yak stickers and beer coolers. 🙂

  6. fatpaddler, I see you mention the Lumix FT1.
    I would like to have a chat with you about that camera.
    Please contact me via email.
    Thank you.


  7. Sure thing Gnarlydog!

  8. Hi Sean
    PLease have a look at our website for the plan of management for Sydney Harbour National Park http://www.sydneyharbourpom.net.au We love your stories and thought you might like to add yours to our webpage. It’s great to see the National Park from the water and if you could tell people about the Park on your site that would be great too.


  9. Sean, a communal friend of ours told me about you however there is no ‘contact’ link on your site. im trying to get in touch with you regarding a charity event im doing but cannot as i cannot find your contact details on your site.
    please email me.

  10. Diane Dintruff

    Hi Sean,
    Got any suggestions for dry suits for fat paddlers?

  11. Gday Diane. I can’t add too much here because we simply don’t need dry suits here in Australia. I did wear one in Alaska recently, it was a size XXL, and I had no problems with it (other than swimming in my own sweat inside it and the choking sensation of a tight rubber gasket around my neck!). Oh, and make sure you go to the toilet before you get into a dry suit, because it is HELL trying to quickly get out of one! Cheers – FP 🙂

  12. Sean,

    I found your website today when looking for photos from the classic. I so wish I had found it before I decided to do the race. I’m a fat (130kg) paddler too. I squeezed (actually quite roomy) into the back of a double mirage and did it the easy way.

    I think your next challenge should be the Murray 200 and the Murray Marathon, the only two longer kayak races in Australia. I would definitely be a part of team fat paddler in that. Email me if you are interested.

  13. Gday Russ. Can’t tell you how much I envied those double Mirages as they went past, paddlers chatting away to each other, and occassionally taking rests. Was a bit harder solo I can assure you! 🙂

  14. Hi Sean,
    I remember well the day we met near Clontarf and your “rescue”. Glad that the paddling has been your road to health. Rob, Geoff, Steve, Simon, Tony and sundry extras still paddle from Clontarf regularly . Oftern 0700-0715 on Sat or Sun…. love to see you there.
    Doc Alex

  15. Doc Alex,

    Mrs FatPaddler here.
    I just wanted to thank you for towing Sean into Chinamen’s after what was an initial disastrous start post decade since he’d kayaked. I have to say it’s one of the funniest stories, I laugh time and time again each time we talk about it. It is also how the ‘FATPADDLER’ was born.

    It would be lovely to meet you one day and we can hear the finer details perhaps!

    Mrs FP

  16. Hi Sean,

    Similar sized paddler from Sussex in the UK here.
    I’m on a short stay to Sydney arriving am 28th Feb. Keen to get a paddle in. Can you suggest any venues/tours.
    I’ve checked out Sydney Harbour Kayaks who appear to do Saturday & Sunday trips that I will be too late for on arrival and depart on the 4th.
    Inspirational site
    Yours Aye

  17. PlusSizePaddlerUSA

    So happy to find this blog! Am 52 yo and also on a journey to health. Grew up canoeing in open boats on Michigan rivers and lakes. I am now interested in kayak, but difficulty finding one to fit The Behind and that I can easily get in/out…Any suggestions of make/model????

  18. hillsidedave

    I was beginning to think that the world of canoes was dominated by the “average” and “smaller” paddler. I am looking for a “plastic” sea kayak, and at 6ft 4 and 260lbs (120kg) (19 ish) stone, I am struggling to find one that will take me and a weekends worth of gear… any suggestions?



  19. Sure thing Dave, there are plenty of good plastic boats for the bigger man! Let me know where you are so I can work out what might be available in your locale. Cheers – FP

  20. Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the good words on our kayaks! If you can try one, I will be curious to get your comments. The Vaag 174 should fit you perfectly.



  21. Bonjour Francois! I’m very much looking forward to trying the Vaag in a bit of Aussie surf and seeing how they go, even with a BIG fella like me in it! 😉

    Keep living the dream!

    Cheers – FP

  22. hillsidedave

    hey FP, I am in the UK, have tried to hunt out bigger boats here, but to no avail, any pointers would be welcome.cheers. d

  23. Dave. Check out the Valley Aquanaut HV RM (the HV stands for “High Volume” – its made for big paddlers). These are made in the UK, are AWESOME rough water seakayaks, and in fact the kayak I paddle myself. Will easily handle your height, and I weigh 130kg which it handles easily.


    Also, check out the Prijon Kodiak. This boat is bigger, heavier, and has even more room in the cockpit than the Aquanaut. I have a mate that has one who is your height, so no probs there, and it has massive storage volume for camping gear.


    Go and check these out for starters. If they are still no good for you, let me know and I’ll throw some other ideas your way. But I reckon these two are the best fit for you.

    Cheers! FP

  24. hillsidedave

    FP, you are a gent.
    I think I am in love with the prijon-kodiak!!!!, and have made contact with the UK supplier to find out what they can do for me. I had already browsed the Aquanaut, and did not have the “gut feeling” as with the Kodiak. many thanks for the tip. cheers

  25. Good onya Dave, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. They’re not the sexiest boats ever made, but they punch well above their weight in terms of stability, speed and stowage.

    Have a look at this story – it’s my mate Ned in his Kodiak (and a bit of a comparison with it next to my Aquanaut).


  26. Enjoyed reading about how you got started paddling!
    Not that you need it, but keep on!

  27. Cheers Ann! It just so happens I have your mag (Sea Kayakers) in front of me at this very moment getting more paddle inspiration. So a big “Keep On!” to you too! 🙂

  28. Hey FP – I was at the boat show on Saturday and was in your talk. You were heaps great!!!! Really enjoyed your presentation and photos and you are inspirational! Good on you keep up the good work! I live in Manly so hopefully see you around here somewhere one day! (Virtual big pat on your shoulder)

  29. Thanks Ashley! Glad you enjoyed the talk, and definitely say high if you come across me on the water! Cheers – FP

  30. Hi FP.
    Great read mate. Your site was posted on the Hobie Adventure Island website for all us lazy kayak sailers to read. Just keen to know how you can break your nose 14 times? Boxing or Rugby? I’m guess’n Rugby !

  31. G’day Rusty. Mostly rugby, a few dust ups at school, the odd fight at the pub when I was a bouncer, and once my little brother broke it during some rough and tumble! Once I broke it the 1st time (bottom of a ruck, 14 years old), the damn thing was easy to keep re-breaking. I actually left the cartilage on a field in Melbourne after a really bad break when I was 17! Ahhh the memories….. 😉

  32. atiba anthony

    hello there i am a big man looking for a good sit in kayak, have been using a sit on top and would like to graduate to a sit in, do you have any advice. i live in washington and will be using the kayak just for the bay. i am 6 ft 4 in 330lbs and losing weight but for right now need something for my size, please help if you can, thanks

  33. Hey Sean,

    How are you mate.
    Still here in Blighty spreading the Fat Paddler Love.
    Great paddle in Chichester Harbour today with afriend who remembers Sydney with affection from his Gap Year. Well Gap 12 years in reality.
    I hope family are all well. Take care of them and yourself of course.
    Yours Aye

  34. Hi FP,

    Just wanted to say thanks for such a fab inspirational, fun and informative blog and I’m finally getting out onto the water today – mainly down to you and your blog! We’ve had our kayaks for a few weeks now and I have a lesson with SHK and can’t wait. The Sydney waters are wonderful and it will be so good to get real close (but hopefully not in) these beautiful waters. After reading a few of the Lane Cover River kayak club’s newsletters, I decided a sit-on was the way to go, as I don’t like spiders and don’t like the idea of an eskimo roll! I’m hoping after a year or so of yaking up and down Middle Harbour I’ll become a thin paddler! Sue

  35. Hi Fat paddler,
    I read with interest that you took up paddling after a series of injuries including multiple fractures of the pelvis. My husband is recovering from an openbook fracture of the pelvis and we are thinking about trying kayaking. Do you have any suggestions re kayak seats, legroom etc that he should keep in mind to make sitting as comfortable as possible.

  36. Hi Jenny, am going to email you direct on this one with a few questions. Cheers – FP

  37. Hey FP,

    If your ever in Auckland NZ, always ready to look after a fellow paddler with a few beers and a BBQ FP.


  38. Hello FP
    hadn’t seen any tweets from you, but glad to catch up with you through your blog
    Happy St Patty’s Day, will you been wearin’the green?

  39. Hello Sean,
    Came across your site today and also had it mentioned by Capacity Sports in Melbourne – all with in an hour of each other.
    I haven’t read everything on your site, but I gather you were using paddling and the water to help fight your “black dog”.
    I have also done this over the years, even just to get out and alone with nature or share a common interest with friends or new friends you meet.
    I noticed you have a Liquid Logic XP10, and I have been thinking of getting one also, so wanted to get your ideas of what you think about it. Mainly I do flat water, but would like the capability to do some light white water if the chance came.
    I am about 6 ft 2 inches (old scale) and 112 Kilos (give or take – depending on the meal!!)
    I have researched the kayaks available and it seems to fit the bill and be high quality.
    Also is the “BadAss” seating really as good as they say it is?
    On another note, I live in Dubbo and we are having a 4 day paddle on the Macquarie River from Wellington to Dubbo to Narromine on the 1st to the 4th of December if you are interested, or would like to advertise on your site.
    Some information can be found at http://www.womdomnom.com/
    Look forward to your reply

  40. Hey FP

    I just came across your site/storey after visiting GCBlast.com. I can relate 100%. You have inspired me.

    Thank you

  41. love this!

  42. Can’t wait to dive in and read! MB

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