International Men’s Day 2023 is a day dedicated to celebrating men worldwide, showing our appreciation for the male role models in our lives and sharing their stories. Here at Bluefin, we’re not just about riding the waves, we’re about the people behind the adventures. We spoke to Nomadic Paddler about his journey and passion for paddleboarding, as well as what International Men’s Day means to him.
Why did you get into paddleboarding?
Growing up I lived by the sea and I always loved the great outdoors, especially sailing and surfing, but living on the South Coast of England the surf isn’t great. One day on a trip to Newquay I saw a man on a SUP gliding across the water and after speaking with him and having a go on his board I fell in love with it straight away and found my solution to get out on the water when it’s flat.
Eventually, I moved to London to work in finance and completely lost my sense of adventure. I got swallowed by London life and looking back at it I feel like I lost my identity. My life took a horrible turn, involving gambling, drugs, suicide attempts and ultimately this all led to prison.
Whilst I was inside, I became a shell of a man, lost with no direction to go or purpose but my mother used to send me Surfing & SUP magazines and I would see these amazing people doing great things. That’s when I came to realise adventure played such a big role in my life and I made a vow to once again live through adventure. I even came up with a personal motto “through adventure we live”.
So, I decided upon my realisation I was going to paddle board the 4 longest lakes in the UK in 4 days to attempt 4 world records and once again I found purpose, a drive to see me through my sentence.
I was released in April in 2020 and achieved what I set out to do and have not looked back since.
What’s been your best paddleboarding experience/story?
I have been very fortunate to SUP in all kinds of places, in all kinds of conditions and I have many stories I can share. However, I think from all that I have done, the best experience is when I am out there alone on an adventure pushing myself beyond limits I never thought my body was capable of achieving.
Every time I take to my board I learn a little bit more about myself, which helps me grow and change to live a much more meaningful life, a life that I should have always been living.
When I am on the water, I learn tools that I can carry into my everyday life to help me overcome challenges and obstacles and that’s what the power of adventure and SUP can do.
What’s your biggest achievement? (can be SUP or none SUP related)
In the 3 years of my release from prison, I have been blessed to achieve some great things. I’ve set 9 world records, achieved some world firsts, been called the pioneer of high-altitude paddling, been crowned ‘Ocean Activist of the Year 2023’ & ‘SUP Man of the Year 2023’.
Back when I was sitting in a 6×4 prison I never thought my journey would take me to this point but it shows what hard work and determination can achieve, despite your current situation.
I am so proud of my achievements, but all this has given me the platform to talk about the power of adventure and what it can do to help others to go on and live a much more meaningful life. My journey has even taken me to the House of Lords to talk about this subject and being given the opportunity to help others has become my biggest achievement.
What would your advice be to other men looking to get into paddleboarding?
Life can get hard at times, it’s not always easy and I’ve experienced the downs, the stress and all, but there really is no better sport than SUP to help you overcome all of that. To help you disconnect to reconnect to become a better version of yourself. There is so much more to this sport than you see when standing on the shoreline looking at the paddle boarders.
Give it a go and I promise you will never look back. Don’t be scared to fall in, it happens to all of us and if you fall in love with it then look at joining your local paddling groups and meet like minded people and form new friendships.
What does International Men’s Day mean to you?
For me, I think a lot of men still think they are not allowed to show what they would class as “weakness” and carry all their troubles on their shoulders. For me International Men’s Day is an opportunity for men to open up, talk about the positives and especially about mental health.
We have physical health we need to look at, but we need to look after our mental health too as it’s just as important and this is something that I am always working on and I am happy to talk to anybody about this.