The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith

The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith


As a hard-playing, hard-living rugby forward, Sean Smith was used to putting his body on the line. However, that soon changed when two severe motor-vehicle accidents left him with devastating physical injuries, and unable to regain his past physical fitness or his zest for life. After witnessing firsthand the 2002 Bali bombing,  Sean also found himself suffering from post-traumatic shock.  Compulsively working long hours in a stressful job and battling to find time to be with his wife and two small daughters didn’t help either.  A losing battle against obesity and an ongoing struggle with depression followed.

After being told by doctors he was a prime candidate for a heart attack at just 36, Sean decided enough was enough.  He took up kayaking (a sport that could accommodate his injuries) and then decided to tackle one of the toughest paddling competitions in the world: the 111-kilometre Hawkesbury Canoe Classic.

What follows is an entertaining and inspiring account of Sean’s journey back to health and fitness.  His many hours training on the waterways of Sydney, and a trip to Alaska paddling amongst icebergs and running away from bears, fuelled a new appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors and recaptured his enthusiasm for living.

Sean’s story is an uplifting experience for those looking for motivation to regain their fitness & enjoy life to the full.

Hear what Sean has to say about The Fat Paddler

What others are saying about The Fat Paddler

‘The Fat Paddler represents all the values that we respect and admire in an Aussie bloke. He gets out there and gives it a go.’ – Justin Jones and James Castrission, authors of Crossing the Ditch

‘Sean’s book is an extraordinary story of personal recovery and adventure. His story is inspirational without taking itself too seriously and luckily for me, Sean shows there’s still hope for old front-rowers after rugby!’ – Al Baxter, Waratah and Wallaby International rugby player

‘In Sean’s story, the faults are center stage. He doesn’t put up some fake adventurers facade, like in some stories when the writers just seem so super human, fueled by unlimited sources of funding and a desire to be the first at something….  Sean’s not worried about that. He’s worried about getting better for himself and the sake of his wife and kids. That’s refreshing.’ – Bryan (US Review, PaddlingLight)

Captain Jim Kakuk, Tsunami Rangers, secret location USA West Coast

“a compelling true story of perseverance and triumph over difficulties that most of us, fortunately, have not had to experience” – Captain Jim Kakuk (US Review, Tsunami Rangers)

‘..while it is definitely laugh out loud funny, with many smiles thru-out, you will most likely come away with your own thoughts stirred and many deeper emotions having been evoked’ – Fiona (Canadian Review, Badger’s Blog)

‘It hooked me and dragged me in. I had no desire to put it down until I had uncovered every part of the story… I rate it 4.5 sausages!’ – Darryl (AU Review, Real Life One Stroke At A Time)

‘My favourite quote, “…moments like these mean the most. Moments of true unadulterated beauty. Moments where you find yourself. Moments of Peace.” Yes this is what confronting life’s challenges and committing to living are all about. Thanks for sharing big guy x’ – Naomi (AU Review, First Time Mamma)

‘Sean tells his story is a breezy and engaging manner, not shying away from the dark moments in his life, but not dwelling on them either, and presents the story of his recovery through kayaking in an entertaining style.’ – John (Canadian Review, Kayakyak)

[Read Sean’s Guest Post on The Nile Bookstore Blog]

21 thoughts on “Books

  1. Der er altid hjælp. Et af håndtagene på vejen tilbage, er oplevelsen af at ” jeg kan sgu” og så ude i den frie, gratis og tilgivende natur som der er så meget af.

  2. You know I don’t read Danish Lars but I think I get it (thanks to Google translate!). 🙂

  3. Is there an ebook release?

  4. Hi Paul. We’re definitely looking at an ebook release but I don’t yet have dates for it. I’ll update this page as soon as I have more information. Cheers – FP

  5. Any preferred vendor for US bound books? Really looking forward to getting my mitts on a copy and one for a friend

  6. I don’t yet have a US distribution deal, although we’ll be aiming to work on one in time for next summer. If you can’t wait that long, then you’ll have to order one online from an Aussie retailer. 🙂

  7. Moulton Avery

    I’m really looking forward to reading your book, FP. No easy walk to freedom, and I have no doubt that your story will be an inspiration to others, particularly those, like myself, who have struggled with injury and depression Thanks for having the courage to share it with the world.

  8. Eric Soares

    I want an autographed copy. How do I get it?
    Merci, Eric

  9. brian partridge

    ive ordered my copy!! cant wait to get my hands on it!! congrats again sean. luv ya work big guy!!

  10. Just Got my copy! Excited to Read it!!!

  11. Ben Shepherd

    Hey Sean – any word on an ebook release? Kindle? Would love to read the book.

  12. Tom Matthews


    Used to be a second rower, spent many a long day holding you fat bastards up in the scrum. Any chance of me coming over to be part of the Fatpaddler team for a Hawkesbury in 2012 or 2013?

    Cheers Tom Matthews, Mt Lawley, Perth WA

  13. Sat by the pool today reading your book. wish i put on sunscreen. Upto chapter 13 so far its a great read.

  14. Peter Meyering

    I recieved your book the fat paddler for christmas,I guess though now it’s mine,
    loved it from the first page. Look forward to following your adventures, form a new big fan, Peter from the N.T.

  15. Patrick Appleton

    Hey Sean, where do I get large ‘’ stickers for my kayak ?? I’m 130 kg so I qualify!

    And why do those ‘reCAPTCHA’ (stop spam) code things have to be so difficult to read?? I spend half an hour finding a word I can actually read!

  16. Marc Manion

    Man oh man – if ever you were to give a great read to a friend who needs to look at the real world – Fat Paddler is it.
    Small problem – got it Friday, drove to the bush for a quiet weekend, read it Saturday and had a really quiet, perhaps icy -just like the book – trip back to civilisation.
    A great read, inspirational story about facing up to the real world.

  17. wesley echols

    Sean, just downloaded and will start reading tonight. Thanks!

  18. Brad Shelvey

    Hi Sean – Thank you for the inspirational account of your journey to become the Fat Paddler.
    It has prompted me to get back on the water after a 30 year hiatus from my days with Surfers Paradise SLSC. After 3 Heart Stents, a hip replacement and a knee reconstruction and a bout of Pleurisy I’m ready to reclaim my paddling prowess.

  19. Hello Sean,
    I’m interested in learning if your book is self-published or if you have a publisher. We publish sports books in the US and wonder if you have US distribution
    Kind regards, Judith Schnell

  20. Carolyn Juett

    Hi I would like to buy your book in hard cover – where is it available from in Australia ?

  21. True, recovery from Depression, finding the way to freedom and happiness to oneness to sensibility is a adventure and is a nice healing process… It is good that kayaking and outdoors brought the zest of life back to this person and he will be part of happy family.

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