The Fat Paddler’s new challenge in Mauritius supports Shake It Up Australia to help find a cure for Parkinson’s

Due to his social media and blogging prowess, Sean Smith has become a bit of a celebrity amongst the kayaking fraternity and beyond, earning him the title “Fat Paddler”. Whilst catching up with our friend over a lazy dumpling lunch late last year, Sean told us about the upcoming ‘Mauritius Ocean Classic’ kayaking challenge he has been invited to attend. Knowing the high skill level of the event, and also knowing his own potential limitations as an ‘elite athlete’, the offer was there as either a commentator or a participant – depending on his courage and fitness on the day – whatever the case, they just wanted him there.

Not one to knock back an opportunity like this Sean took the news home to his wife Rebecca who showed her undying love and support of his sporting choice by stating that of course he could attend – with the added clause “not without me!” Following a few negotiations amongst the group, the event will now be attended by 3 members of Team Fat Paddler and their families – why miss out on the experience of a lifetime!

Team Fat Paddler, the crew of paddlers linked to, take part in events throughout the year raising money for charities. The 2011 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic saw 10 paddlers and 20 land crew representing Team Fat Paddler, raising over $15,000 for that event. Over the past 3 years, the team has raised over $50,000 for various charities.

Every year Team Fat Paddler sets a number of challenges that push its members to the limits. In 2012 that challenge will be the preparation for and participation in the Mauritius Ocean Classic (Island Shamaal), a World Surfski Series event held on the last weekend in June. The challenge is being supported by travel sponsors who are covering all travel and accommodation to the event.

Sean and paddling pal Nat Bradford ( are the principles of this challenge and will be joined by Brian Partridge, an Adelaide-based member of Team Fat Paddler who is also currently training for the event. Both Sean and Nat have senior positions in the Marketing and Public Relations fields, and will be supporting their campaign with a detailed & disruptive PR and marketing plan, focusing on the story of ordinary blokes attempting the impossible through hard training and preparation.

Sean and his Team are proud to support the Shake It Up Foundation Australia in our quest to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. He adds “Please make a donation to this great cause – every donation keeps us motivated to train hard for this crazy quest of our own!” You can make an online donation here.


In August 2011 Sean released a book in Australia and New Zealand, The Fat Paddler, which details his path to paddling and the creation of Team Fat Paddler. As a hard-playing, hard-living rugby forward, Sean was used to putting his body on the line. However, that soon changed when two severe motor-vehicle accidents left him with devastating physical injuries, and unable to regain his past physical fitness or his zest for life. After witnessing firsthand the 2002 Bali bombing, Sean also found himself suffering from post-traumatic shock. Compulsively working long hours in a stressful job and battling to find time to be with his wife and two small daughters didn’t help either. A losing battle against obesity and an ongoing struggle with depression followed. After being told by doctors he was a prime candidate for a heart attack at just 36, Sean decided enough was enough. He took up kayaking (a sport that could accommodate his injuries) and then decided to tackle one of the toughest paddling competitions in the world: the 111-kilometre Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. What followed was an entertaining and inspiring journey back to health and fitness. His many hours training on the waterways of Sydney, and a trip to Alaska paddling amongst icebergs and running away from bears, fuelled a new appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors and recaptured his enthusiasm for living.

Sean’s story is an uplifting experience for those looking for motivation to regain their fitness and enjoy life to the full. For more information on Sean and his Team visit: