Everyday, Australian Damien Rider is haunted by his childhood. He endured horrific circumstances which included rape and physical abuse. From the age of 6, Damien was left with no choice but to seek refuge under jetties and skate parks to hide from the abusing monsters that were chipping away at his soul. He was helpless. The police and neighbourhood offered no assistance, leaving Damien with ongoing trauma and a warped view of what childhood should be. Years into Adulthood, Damien’s life continued to suffer. The pain and flashbacks caused him to self destruct; pushing away the love of his life whilst fracturing the relationships he had with his two sons.
After seeing through many psychologists who could offer no real solutions, Damien took matters into his own hands to find his peace and face his inner demons. He set off on what many thought to be an impossible journey: paddling 800km solo with ZERO support crew for 17 days on a paddle board propelled by just his hands – from his home in Coolangatta to Bondi Beach in Sydney. Damien spent months turning his body into an endurance machine. He would do 3 hour workouts, 8 hour workouts, even building up to a 24 workout, and shooting his progress.
During his feat, Damien was alone with limited food and water, suffering fatigue and severe hunger; not a soul aware of where he was at any given time. He was forced to dig holes in the sand to get some sleep some nights, whilst using his paddle board to keep the rain out. This was no Hilton experience. He crossed shark breeding grounds with great fear and difficulty, having his board rocked by one and being stalked by more – in the middle of a man eating shark period where 5 people lost their lives in just 12 months to the ocean’s most feared predator. Damien faced unexplainable physical and mental fatigue day in and day out, but never once wavered from his dream – and documented it all via an onboard camera.
On January 24 at 3:04pm, Damien Rider paddled into Bondi Beach, accomplishing his goal which left one paramedic wondering if he’s human, and why no one had set up a study on him to discover how on earth he was able to do it! Damien also left multiple paddle boarding world champions speechless, who train for extended periods to complete the gruelling 52 kilometres required for the annual Molokai to Oahu paddle boarding competition in Hawaii. To their astonishment, Damien was paddling this distance everyday!
This world first achievement saw Damien not only conquer his demons, but 3 world records that now deservedly belong to him. Paddling also for his foundation PACA (Paddle Against Child Abuse) Damien speaks of his entire 800km paddle, and the journey from a frightened child to an older man free of distraught with a newfound spring in his step.