Zeb Walsh -- prone paddling Bass Straight, winning Molokai 2 Oahu, big wave rescue training
In episode 97, we hear the stories of professional athlete and man of the water, James Casey, who takes us down his path from a young grom taking his beatings in Hawaiian surf to the dominant standup paddle boarder he is today, winning the infamous Molokai 2 Oahu paddle race on his SUP in 2019. James’s stories and perspectives on his love for coaching and foiling, traveling the world, running camps in Thailand and the Maldives, and commitment to family are fun and inspirational. I was lucky enough to have time with James before he took off from his home in Sydney to fly out for the Red Bull Heavy Water event in San Francisco.
Highlights of our conversation:
In episode 94 I speak with Suzie Cooney, a well-rounded athlete who has turned her love of the ocean into a lifestyle of training others. Suzie takes us through her evolution from windsurfing and motocross riding to stand up paddling (SUP) and finding her passion for the world-famous Maliko downwind course on Maui. We hear of Suzie’s approach to training athletes both remotely and in person, her approach to the physical and mental aspects of endurance paddling, and her passion for spending time to help others grow strong in the ocean. Suzie shares her story of building a massive SUP event to raise awareness for women’s health and leveraging that to grow an amazing lifestyle of writing books, training others, and competing in SUP events. We hear of a recent trip to Hood River, Suzie’s love for riding dirt bikes, and her strength pushing through injuries to continue to thrive in the ocean.
In episode 92 I speak with a good friend and legend, Pat Shaughnessy, a world class big wave surfer and prone board paddler. Pat takes us through the past few years of focusing his summers on lifeguarding at Santa Cruz beaches and competing in both the Catalina Classic and Molokai 2 Oahu paddle board races with stories of dealing with the physical and mental challenges of these long distance events. Pat takes us through the evolution of his surfing from competitive shortboarding in his early teens to following his sister, Savannah, to Mavericks for his first big wave introduction. We hear of Pat taking a cautious first few years at Mavericks before things clicking for him and finding his true love for big wave surfing and being invited to compete in the 3 recent Mavericks contests. Pat talks about his crew in the line-up, continued inspiration from his sister in big waves, no-leash days at Puerto Escondido, and spending time to help the next generation find their stoke for big waves.
In episode 90 I speak with a friend and local hero of mine, Tyler Conroy, who has built a well rounded ocean life for himself in Santa Cruz, CA. Tyler shares his stories of learning to surf as a young teen and moving quickly into some of the heavier Northern California water, his time in Jr Lifeguards, and transition into surfing big waves. We hear of Tyler’s first session at Mavericks, some of the local legends who coached him into his first waves, and surfing Mavs with his group of close friends and wife, Savannah. Tyler talks about the lineup at Mavericks, working jet ski rescue in big waves, his breath hold training, love for spearfishing, and progression on the foil (and challenges of the sport here in cold, kelpy, Santa Cruz).
Thanks for sharing Tyler’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Tyler on Instagram.
In episode 87 I speak with Johnny Kahakaloha, a man who has found his calling on land and the water of Maui. Johhny talks story of moving to Maui and immersing himself in local Hawaiian culture within the town of Kahakuloa where he learned how to live off of the land and be in harmony with the natural world around him, all while remotely running a highly successful record label company. Johnny tells the story of his entry into the world of paddling starting with the outrigger canoe and moving to the SUP where today Johnny is a regular in the waves and downwind courses on Maui. We hear of the strong community of Maui board paddlers and people who have influenced Johnny to take on one of the biggest paddle challenges on the planet, Molokai 2 Oahu. Johnny shares his story of deciding to paddle M2O in 2019 three weeks before the race and his intense training he went through to prepare. Johnny then shares a super heavy story of being stuck in 30-knot wind less than 2-miles from the M2O finish line and having to dig deep to persevere and finish the race. Throughout, we hear a great perspective from Johnny on finding and pursuing passion in life.
Thanks for sharing Johnny’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Johnny on Instagram.
In this episode of Stoked Grom Stories I talk with Bobo Gallagher, a young man who is loving his life in the waters of Maui. Bobo shares stories of getting hooked on surfing after riding his first wave, the first time he picked up a paddle and surfed SUP, and his discovery of downwinding. We hear about the great support Bobo has from his family and crew of friends in the water who help him train and learn the ocean. Bobo talks about his love for foiling in the surf and downwind and shares his thoughts on the new foil wing and what it’s like downwinding in the Hood River Gorge in Oregon. Bobo does a great job answering the lightning round of questions and shows a lot of great character and passion for his ocean life.
Thanks for sharing Bobo’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures of him ripping on Instagram.
In episode 86 we continue on the theme of competitive surf lifesaving and hear stories of Amanda Calabrese, a world-class competitor in the sport. Amanda takes us through her early days in Montauk, New York as a Junior Lifeguard, finding her passion for competing at a high level, and her path leading to the US National Surf Lifesaving Team. We talk about the fringe nature, supportive community of competitors, and gender equality natural to surf lifesaving with Amanda sharing stories of her mentors who have helped push her along the way and her philosophy toward the mental aspect of competition. Amanda shares her love for training the next generation of Jr Guard groms (including my own daughters!) and balancing her own training for both prone board racing and beach flags while building her start-up, Tempo, that’s driving to empower women through higher performance feminine products. We hear of Amanda’s training with the Australian elite, competing on the world stage, and connection with Buell Surf and Rescue, to help push the sport forward with innovative new equipment design and grom training.
In episode 85 I speak with April O’Gorman, a world-class competitor in the sport of surf life saving. April shares her stories of discovering surf life saving competition later in life than most of her peers, finding her competitive strengths, and learning the skills and techniques for success. We hear of her mentors in the sport that have helped April progress from the regional to national then world stage of surf life saving competition, her time in Australia training with legends of the sport, and great stories of competing on the US National Team. April shares her perspective on the community of surf lifesaving competitors, her approach to training and competing in her favorite events such as board paddling and The Iron, a multi-discipline event of board paddling, swimming, running, and surf ski paddling, that April today (Aug 2019) is set to defend her current national title at the upcoming US National event. April shares her enjoyment of providing back to the next generation of groms to help them grow their love of competitive surf lifesaving and find their own success in the sport, and her synergy with Buell Surf and Rescue, a California company pushing the sport forward with innovative new equipment design and grom training camps.
Thanks for sharing April’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of April on Instagram.
In episode 84 I sit down and talk story with two legends in the world of competitive surf lifesaving — Ryan Paroz and Ryan Buell. We hear stories from Paroz about his competitive success today in both prone board and surf ski paddling events, his time on the US National Team, competing across the world, and crossing the Kaiwi Channel (Molokai to Oahu) six times on the surf ski. Buell takes us back into the 1980’s and 90’s where he competed on the world stage with major focus on prone board racing and beach flags, sharing a great history of the men and women of that era who have laid the foundation for competitive surf lifesaving of today. We talk equipment with both Ryan’s sharing stories of the gear they’ve used and hear the story of Paroz’s homemade prone sprint board that he’s used for years and Buell’s surf ski that he still has 25 years later. We hear of the synergy between Paroz and Buell in their mutual focus of growing the sport of surf lifesaving through bringing the best equipment to market and providing strong mentorship and coaching to the next generation of groms frothing to compete on the beach.
Thanks for sharing Paroz’s and Buell’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check out photos and videos of Paroz on Instagram and Facebook. Check out Buell Surf and Rescue on Instagram and Facebook, and Ryan Buell himself.