When we first launched our Paddle Against Plastic campign, it came about due to the desire to get our education system out to more people, particularly local primary schools.  Just like our campaign, what started as a little effort is turning out to be much more than I expected.  I never imagined Ocean Crusaders would amount to what it is today, a world-wide educational program.  But I’m happy to see it develop into everything it can be as the winner is the ocean.

Ocean Crusaders, for me, has never been about financial gain, it is all about the oceans and I feel my repayment is when the creatures of the oceans come to me and put on a show, and they have been doing that a lot recently on my trips to the reef.  The Whale season has been off the scale, the Dolphins have been riding the bows which is rare up here, the Manta Rays have been in town swimming with divers and snorkellers, the turtles have been doing their usual thing of chilling out with our guests and the weather we have been gifted with has been outstanding.

Having been in the windsurfing industry previously, I decided to contact the Naish dealers here in Australia.  When I managed Sailboard Headquarters in Melbourne, I worked a lot with Windgenuity so they were my first port of call.  I wanted to use Naish boards as Robby Naish is one of my idols.  It’s not because he is an outstanding  windsurfer, although he is definitely that, it is because he is one of the most genuine guys to ever have graced the sport of windsurfing.  He has always been referred to as the ‘God of Windsurfing’.

I recall a windsurfing tour I ran to Maui, Hawaii back in 1997.  I had 20 guests with me and saw Robby in the car park with his van.  Back in those days he was sponsored by Mistral and all of our riders had Mistral gear.  I was even riding them at the time so I went up and said g’day.  I spoke to him about our tour and he immediately said to bring the guys over.  He spent the next hour talking with the crew and posing for photos and signing autographs.  He was human, he genuinely loved talking to people about the sport.  I could see in the eyes of our guests the respect and he earnt my respect that day.  After about an hour he turned to me and appologised saying he had to go as he was running late for a plane.  I found out later he missed that plane, he missed it because of us, because he wanted to spend time with my clients…….Respect.

When I spoke to Greg and Aidan at Windgenuity they immediately supported the concept and said they would ask Naish International for additional support.  Great pricing on the gear was all I ever expected.  I got that but what Naish International offered was far greater than I ever expected.  They didn’t give me free gear, they gave me something more valuable than that.  They threw their marketing team behind the Paddle Against Plastic and offered to publicise it around the world to all their dealers and owners.  This may not seem like a lot to some of you but to me this is epic.  Naish International reaches places Ocean Crusaders has never been before.  It opens up a new market to educate.  Kitesurfers, windsurfers and SUP riders around the world will now know about our humble little campaign.  I don’t know how many people that is but I’m so excited by the prospect of where this goes and as Aidan from Windgenuity said to me ‘If you are successful with this project then people will be jumping at the opportunity to be involved in future events.’  How true, imagine taking this Paddle Against Plastic around the world, having people paddle for the cause all the time funding our crew to go and educate students from all countries and raising awareness of this pivotal issue.

Typical of me, I asked for a little more.  I asked Aidan to get a statement from Robby Naish himself.  The next day I had it.

Robby Naish – A dead set legend.

“Boardriding engages you with nature.  That awareness in itself is a good thing.  It makes people look at the world, their backyard, the beach, their lake, etc in a different way once they begin to play in it. At Naish we are working more and more with bamboo laminates and are searching for natural foam cores and resins to evolve our manufacturing into.  Also, two years ago, we began with our eco-packaging system, where we reduced throw away packing with our boards by 60% and instead provide a killer boardbag with our wind, kitewave and sup boards.  We have an in house kite canopy recycling program as well.  It is a big world, and we have a long way to go in improving the way we live. People know that now.  That in itself is very positive for the future.”  Robby Naish – Naish International

The world is waking up and with key companies like Naish willing to support crusades like us, well if can only lead to bigger and better things.  I’m so grateful to have Naish involved and the best thing is the boards are amazing.  We’ve got our Naish Javelins now and they are so quick.  All the boys were grinning from ear to ear after their first paddle.  This is going to be an epic paddle.  It is going to hurt…..a lot.  Honestly I wonder why I challenge myself in these ways but the rewards are so great.  Had I not taken on this challenge, Ocean Crusaders would not be known to Robby Naish and his clientelle.  And the future of the Paddle Against Plastic campaigns is looking good.  A couple of friends have already started talking about events on the Sunshine Coast, Sydney and Melbourne.  We’ll definitely look into it after this first campaign.

My long time sponsors Barz Optics have also got behind the campaign.  They have a new range of Floater sunglasses and when I spoke to Kevin about the paddle, he immediately said he’d support us and offered sunnies for the boys and an additional 6 pairs to give away to donors.  The floating sunglasses maybe plastic however the whole concept of them floating means that if you are out on the water and drop them, they don’t litter the ocean.  You simply go back and pick them up.  Means you don’t have to spend lots of money on a new set too.  So wearing sunnies while paddling is now a lot safer than ever before.  To find out more click here.  You can buy them online however if you want a chance to win one of 6 pairs of sunnies, all you have to do is make a small donation towards our Paddle Against Plastic.  Your donation can be as small as $2.  Every cent counts as we aim to raise funds to visit schools and do what we do best, educate students about our oceans and how to look after them.  To donate, click here.

We’re still chasing sponsors for this inaugural event.  With world-wide exposure through Naish International and the ability to be onboard from the start of what should become a major international series of events, now is the time to talk to us.  Contact Ian directly by e-mail or phone 0412 932 808.  All sponsorships are tax deductible and it doesn’t matter how big or small your sponsorships are, it all counts.