In the coming weeks, seven Phuketians will need to be particularly strong – they will be standing up for a very long time, embarking on a circumnavigation of the island, on stand-up paddle boards, to raise money and awareness for a special cause.
“We will be travelling over 90 miles (150 km) in the course of 5 to 6 days,” says organiser Quintin Clover. The crew will depart on Tuesday (March 13) at 5.30am.
“We have put in months of training and have sacrificed a great deal of time and effort to make this event a reality.”
The cause: A day care centre in the Rassada Fishing Port area, set up by The Good Shepherd charity to care for the children of the predominately Burmese migrants who work there.
“If we can raise the funds to build a small community hall, the charity will be allowed, on the upper level, to build a proper school for underprivileged Thai and Burmese children,” says Quintin.
“Our goal is to raise B5.2 million to build this structure. It will serve as a solid foundation for the community and give those less fortunate the gift of an education.”
Quintin came across the school while working as a graphic designer for The Good Shepherd.
“They [Good Shepherd] do an amazing job, but they really need a financial boost. We’ve had some really good donations so far... and we hope to keep the momentum going after we finish [the paddle].”
While Quintin might be a seasoned surfer, he is relatively green in the world of stand-up paddle boarding, having only taken it up at the end of the last surfing season.
“The other guys [Tal Derhy, Nathan Chilcott, Tim Campbell, Arend Moelich, Luke Remmers and Andrew ‘Easy’ Eadie] are more veterans than me.
“But I just wanted to think of a new way to promote [the charity] and capture a younger audience.”
Are the seven men ready for the gruelling five-day journey that lies ahead?
“If we have a little bit of luck, we’re on track.
“We all get on very well... and it’s been really good having people from different career backgrounds to help promote the cause and for sponsorships.
“It’s grown a lot quicker than we thought. It’s great.”
They won’t be completely on their own during the journey though – Stand Up Paddle Thai will provide a support boat, while Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa will be supplying food for the full five days, delivered to their camp sites each night.
“We’ll definitely be eating well, if we manage to stay on track and end up at the right beaches.”
As for the exact course they will take, Quintin says it is impossible to plan this far ahead, as they will need to look at the weather conditions closer to launch. He says the crew will probably head off anti-clockwise around the island, though this could change on the day if the wind isn’t favourable.
It will be the first time anyone has attempted to stand-up paddle around Phuket. Quintin says he’s aware of someone who has kayaked around the island, but added that paddle boarding brings with it very different challenges.
“You can’t really relax very much. You’re standing up the whole time, so you can’t just sit back and take a bit of a break.”
So when facing literally an ocean of challenges, what is the biggest one?
“The biggest challenge is definitely the weather, and particularly how we can adapt to a bad day’s weather. We’re aiming to paddle from 6am to 10am, and from 3pm to sunset every day, but whether we can remain on track is completely dependent on the weather and ocean conditions,” says Quintin.
And when the ordeal is finished? “I think everyone will be ready for a beer.” There is ample opportunity for everyone to join them, with the official after party being held at Skyla’s Beach House in Kamala immediately after they plan to finish on March 18.
The party, which will run all afternoon and into the evening, will include food, entertainment, prizes and a charity auction. The party will be pirate themed, and there will be a giant treasure chest which guests can fill with clothes, toys or gifts that will be passed on to the children at the day care centre.
Of course, you don’t even have to get your feet wet to get involved – all you have to do is open your wallet and make a donation, or get along to Skyla’s on March 18 to show your support.
If you would like more information, or to donate, visit standupphuket.com, or email email@example.com. To learn more about the charity, visit thegoodshepherd.info/phuket-2
– Dane Halpin