BONDI LIFEGUARDS QUESTION THEIR IMPOSSIBLE AT MOLOKAI PADDLEYou might think that saving lives daily as part of your job would qualify you for a bit of a break in your time off. Maybe crack open a cold one, slob around a bit, watch The Bachelor.
However, this kind of logic seems not to apply in the minds of Bondi’s lifeguards. It’s almost as if the more they do, the more they seek to do. This kind of ‘challenge inertia’ has arisen once again, with a group of five Waverley Lifeguards – Reidy (Andrew Reid), Whippet (Ryan Clark), Harries (Anthony Carroll), Corey (Corey Oliver) and Juliana (Juliana Bahr-Thomson) – recently competing in one of the most challenging endurance events in the world: the Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O).
The M2O is not for the faint-hearted. Competitors must paddle a gruelling 53 kilometres across the Channel of Bones, starting on Kaluakoi Beach on the north shore of Molokai and finishing in Maunalua Bay on the south shore of Oahu.
Top athletes typically complete the crossing in less than five hours, riding mid-channel waves that can crest more than 12 feet and carry paddlers hundreds of meters at a time. Our lifeguards managed to do it in about 6 and a half hours, all finishing within about 15 minutes of each other.
“We did it as part of the ‘Question Your Impossible’ Project, which is all about encouraging kids to challenge themselves and then go overcome that challenge, and that’s what we were doing in training for Molokai, too,” Reidy explained to The Beast.
Whippet concurred, saying that getting kids active and raising awareness about the increasing commonality of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes was the lifeguards’ main aim.
The five lifeguards teamed up with GPS technology company Garmin, and in the lead up to the race they travelled to the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, and Bondi to run free Kids Active Camps – one hour training sessions that got kids moving, active, and motivated.
“To see the kids with wide smiles across their faces, out of their comfort zones, maybe exercising for the first time in a long time, was wonderful,” Whippet said.
“The amount of kids who are obese and not getting the exercise they need, I just find terrifying. To be able to change kids’ and parents’ perspectives was so gratifying.”
Competing in the race itself was both a mental and physical challenge for the group. While the first three hours were relatively comfortable, the wind soon turned.
“We had the whole power of the Pacific Ocean going against us, slamming through a tight, tight channel,” Reidy said.
“There were definitely bragging rights on the line in terms of who could cross the finish line first, but it just so happened, incidentally, that Ryan Clark managed to be the first lifeguard home.”
Whippet was quick to counter this explanation, saying the finishing order “was less about my talent, and more about Reidy’s lack of talent.”
“It was just phenomenal to do something involving that much endurance,” Whippet added.
“I’ve never done something for six and a half hours straight in my life, apart from sleep. And beating Reidy was just the icing on the cake.”