Despite his lifetime of involvement in surf lifesaving and ocean swimming, it wasn’t until 2018 that passionate Ocean Racer and paddling advocate, Simon Traynor, seriously picked up a paddle.
Now a Paddle Australia Board Director, Traynor could not be more thrilled that the 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships will take place on home shores, with the waterman keen for the world’s paddlers to experience the hospitality of the Australian paddle community.
“I first got into paddling when a group of surf club mates said they were going to do this race called the Molokai Challenge in Hawaii. I knew nothing about it, but FOMO (fear of missing out) won and I ended up paddling all through the summer and have never really stopped,” said Traynor.
“The Australian paddle community is such a great bunch of people, and post COVID we’ve seen even more people take up the sport from all walks of life.
“No matter where people come from or what people do for work, your first connection with them is always the love of the sport, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited for paddlers from all over the world to visit Perth for the World Championships.”
While trying to balance a busy work schedule, Traynor aims to paddle four or five times a week, mostly from Portsea in Victoria.
Already set and ready to travel west for the 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships, Traynor notes there will be something special about the international community coming together in Perth.
“For us to take part on a global scale and stand next to South Africans, Americans and Europeans on Western Australian beaches will be really exciting.
“This sport brings people together and brings extraordinary enjoyment and pleasure to so many of us. It’s a combination of training and preparation but also adventure and the x-factor.
“Yes you come along and paddle during the day but you have a good time at night too, having a drink and sharing stories, and irrespective of skill or where you’re going to place, there’s just this shared love of the ocean and paddling that acts as glue.”
Having participated in multiple sports throughout his life, Traynor feels lucky to be part of such a unique and inclusive sport and community.
“At the end of the day, whatever sport we choose, it’s about the community, and I absolutely fell in love with the Ocean Racing community when I first started paddling, it has a beautiful quality,” he said.
“I love that I can be standing on the start line at any event in Australia if not around the world, look to my left and see the champions of today, people like Cory Hill, the Rice brothers, Macca, Tom Norton and Hank McGregor. Then to look to my right and see the OG’s of our sport, including Dean Gardiner, Oscar Chalupsky, the Mocke brothers and Clint Robinson, that’s an experience that’s so unique to paddling. I mean, tell me another sport where a punter like me can experience something as special as that.
“Another great aspect of paddling is just being close to mother nature. I love being out there with my mates but I also love going out by myself and having that solitude, knowing it’s just me and the ocean.
“I like the fact that as paddlers, we’re observing the winds, the tide and the swell, and you feel like you’re really a part of something much bigger than yourself. We really are blessed,” he said.
The 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships will take place in Perth from November 27-December 3. There is still time to enter, with registration for the landmark event open until Monday 20 November.
For more information or to enter, visit the event website here.