Tofino celebrates World Paddling for the Planet Day

The West Coast spent a sunny Saturday afternoon on the water celebrating World Paddling for the Planet Day.

The day was founded in 2012 by stand up paddle surfer Bob Purdy in an effort to promote environmental change by reconnecting people to their natural surroundings.

“I invite paddlers around the planet to pick a change they want to see, paddle for it on the day, and then commit to that change until it becomes reality,” he told the Westerly after getting off his board on Saturday.

“We’re really pleased to come to Tofino this year for my paddle and there’s satellite paddles going on all over the planet today.”

Purdy, a Kelowna local, launched the first World Paddling for the Planet Day on June 16, 2012, and he brought significant attention to his cause by paddling about 135 km across Okanagan Lake.

The inaugural event’s success earned Purdy a second annual showing, which he spent paddling south of the border in Florida’s Lake Powell.

He said Tofino was a natural choice for the event’s third installment.  

“We want to be able to focus and highlight some of these unique special places in the world that need our protection, that need us to step up to the plate and do better for them,” he said.

“Tofino is one of those places that is unlike anything else on the planet, it is a totally unique and different place.”

He said the local support he received during the planning of this year’s event proved Tofino to be a worthy host.

“We made the decision to come to Tofino in December and spoke with a number of people, including Mayor Josie Osborne, and the level of support and enthusiasm that we got from Tofino just nailed it,” he said.

“Everybody supported us and rallied around us. The community here is awesome and we totally made the right decision.”

He hopes getting people out and enjoying their natural surroundings will promote positive environmental change by reestablishing connections.

“One of the reasons that we’ve managed to create some of the challenges on the planet that we have is because we’ve become disconnected. We’re disconnected from the natural world, we’re disconnected from each other, and we’re disconnected from other animal life,” he said.

“Paddling is one of those activities that you get to unplug, you get to get away from the cell phone, the computer, and all that kind of stuff and you get to go out into a spectacular setting.”

Saturday marked the 1,352 consecutive day Purdy had spent on a paddleboard.

He began the streak on Jan 1, 2011, with the hopes of making it to 1,000 days but when he reached this goal he was encouraged to keep the streak alive.  

“I was encouraged by a number of people to continue,” he said. “Our message is starting to get out there and we’ll keep it going as long as I stay healthy.”

Saturday’s event also served as a fundraiser for Tofino-based conservation organization Clayoquot Action.

“What I really love about World Paddle for the Planet Day is it’s about people sharing our love for the environment (and) what pulls us all together is that shared love,” said Clayoquot Action co-founder Dan Lewis.  

“My activism comes from a place of love, not a place of anger and not a place of hate. I don’t hate the people that are running mines or logging but I do love the forests and the animals and I want to protect them.”

The event saw Lewis, a long-time kayaker, get on a paddleboard for the first time and he became an instant fan.

“I had no idea how much fun it was; I’m definitely hooked,” he said.

Saturday’s event raised about $1,500 for Clayoquot Action, according to Lewis.  

“It takes money to do the kind of work we’re trying to do to protect this place that we all love so we really appreciate the fact that Bob (Purdy) wanted to do it as a fundraiser for Clayoquot Action,” he said.

After the day’s paddling was over, the board Purdy had spent his third annual World Paddling for the Planet Day on was raffled off and won by Jarrod Rousseau, a tourist visiting Tofino from Ladysmith.

reporter@westerlynews.ca