Connect with us

Thai Life

Aussie navigates through haze to paddle against child abuse

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: As part of his battle against child abuse, Damien Rider successfully circumnavigated Phuket on his standup paddle board (SUP), despite the dense Indonesian haze leaving him lost at sea earlier this month.

Mr Rider, a victim of child abuse, first caught the media’s attention with Paddle Against Child Abuse (PACA) when he completed an 800 kilometer prone paddle through the shark infested waters of the Gold Coast to Bondi Beach.

Though not as dramatic as being knocked from his board by a great white shark, Mr Rider faced a number of different challenges as he paddled around Phuket.

“Definitely the most challenging part was absolutely not knowing where to go. When that haze came in, I didn’t know what I was aiming for,” Mr Rider said.

“The haze was definitely a massive factor. I got lost at sea twice for about an hour. I couldn’t see land at all, not at all.

“It was kind of eerie when I was out there, because I’d start hearing these things and the water was making these noises and I was just waiting for some monster to come out of the mist.”

Mr Rider navigated during the trip by going from headland to headland. A single navigational error would more than double the distance he was forced to paddle as he went around islands on Phuket’s calm east coast and was occasionally lured into bays that he then had to paddle back out of.

The community that Mr Rider has found at Phuket Cleanse and in the southern end of Phuket, as well as his own mental space following a new-found pride in himself, set the stage for a very different game during the paddle.

“It was completely different than my last paddle. Last paddle, there were a lot of hidden demons in my head and emotional baggage that I had to get through,” Mr Rider said. “It was good for me to see that all that was gone and my PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] was gone. There wasn’t one time that I had a negative thought about my past or anything out there.”

Mr Rider’s childhood was filled with abuse from the age of six onward. He regularly attempted to flee it: sleeping in rock caves and under jetties – anywhere that he could escape to.

However, during this paddle, his time was eaten up with thoughts on navigation, looking at the stunning landscape as it appeared from behind the haze, listening to the sound of the water on his board and planning on how to ration his water and food.

Over the four days it took Mr Rider to circumnavigate the island, he spent a total of about 26 hours on the board.

“It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. All the training leading up to the event definitely made a difference. And all that’s down to Phuket Cleanse making it easy for me,” Mr Rider said.

Now, Mr Rider is hooked on Phuket.

“I only came here for a month to do the training. Do this event, go back to Australia to do another event. But I’ve found that that it’s a really good base for training for me, or anyone really, especially around Rawai.

“There are a lot of people here for the same reason: to get healthy and train – it’s that fit, healthy lifestyle.

“Everyone has been so hospitable to me, which is good as well, because as an athlete doing an individual sport, it can get quite lonely if you are doing everything by yourself. Here, I’ve been able to surround myself with like-minded people.”

Since his arrival on Phuket, Mr Rider has become a role model to many youngsters and adults on the island. During his stay, he has visited a number of schools to talk about his personal experiences with child abuse.

“I’m just a regular guy having a go at trying to change a situation that I have experienced. People don’t have to paddle all kinds of stupid distances to make a difference,” Mr Rider said. “Dedicate something you are passionate about each day to the victims of child abuse. You don’t have to announce it. Just start within yourself.”

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Nightlife businesses petition government to reopen, sell alcohol

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Koh Larn 70% vaccinated as Pattaya eyes reopening

Economy11 hours ago

BMA extends permits for street vendors to 2 years for stability

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Phuket13 hours ago

Expats in Phuket without a work permit can register for a Covid-19 vaccine

Environment13 hours ago

Tar balls wash ashore on several Phuket beaches

Thailand13 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Private vaccines, PM promises to re-open Thailand, Phuket Sandbox | June 17

Thailand13 hours ago

2 dead following truck crash

Thailand13 hours ago

Outbreaks at factories rise, operators ordered to file Covid risk assessment

Thailand14 hours ago

Prayut going to Phuket, see if it’s Sandbox ready

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Chulabhorn Royal Academy details Sinopharm vaccine insurance

Thailand15 hours ago

Thai-English auto-translate down on Facebook due to “technical issues”

Best of15 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Phuket

Crime15 hours ago

Famous/infamous murder suspect out on bail wins lottery

Thailand15 hours ago

Police arrest 2 men for allegedly trying to extort 2 million baht from a man

Phuket16 hours ago

Electricty outages in Phuket today

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending