Jan Juc waterman Zeb Walsh is about to set off for Hawaii to contest his second Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships, but this time around his mission has even more meaning.
Last November, close friends Karl and Alex Waddell tragically lost their baby son River to SIDS, and – as a father himself – the news hit Walsh hard, spurring him to help raise awareness and funds for research.
“As soon as it happened, I wanted to do something. People think what I’m doing is hard, but what they’re going through every day is harder.”
Walsh is calling on the Surf Coast to help him raise funds for River’s Gift, a local foundation to drive SIDS research and hopefully lead to its prevention.
“SIDS is just such an unknown, but if I can raise some money, hopefully the foundation won’t have to exist in the future.”
Last year Walsh clocked just over five hours, 45 minutes for the 32-mile (almost 52km) open ocean race that crosses the infamous Channel of Bones, and landed fourth place in the 12-foot stock division. But with extra training this year, and several impressive results over summer, he told the Surf Coast Times and Bellarine Times that he felt a lot stronger, fitter and more confident in the lead up to the July 29 event.
“The last hour and a half really hurts, but the Hawaiian guys say that’s when the race really begins. And at the five mile mark, the top guys really start to shine. My aim is to get faster toward the end, but it is a fight.”
Walsh said there were a lot of good paddlers over there, including Hawaiian George Ramos who has competed in every Molokai to Oahu since the event’s conception 15 years ago.
“If I could do half as many as George has, I’d be stoked. The Molokai is definitely something I want to keep doing, and this is not my last.”
Soul Fuel in Torquay have donated a $100 voucher to support Zeb’s fundraising efforts, so to go in the draw to win, follow Zeb’s mission and get behind River’s Gift head to fromvicotomolokai.blogspot.com.au.