Blake Johnston: Aussie surfer sets record with mammoth 30-hour surfing session, then goes back for more
A quick dip in the surf can be refreshing at any time of the day, but one Sydney man has taken it to the extreme, setting a new world record in the process.
Surfing coach Blake Johnston smashed the previous world record of 30 hours and 11 minutes early Friday morning, but rather than drying out, he went straight back into the water for 10 more hours.
The former pro surfer is trying to raise 400,000 Australian dollars ($268,000) for youth mental health, 10 years after his father took his own life.
Blake’s brother, Ben Johnston, co-founder of the Chumpy Pullin Foundation, a partner in the world record, commended his sibling’s effort to draw attention to mental health issues.
“We’re just so immensely proud of what he’s done and what he’s setting out to achieve. This is all about honoring the legacy of our amazing dad,” he told CNN Affiliate Sky News.
Crowds gathered on Cronulla beach in southern Sydney throughout the mammoth surfing session that started at 1 a.m. on Thursday and was due to end at 5 p.m. Friday.
After breaking the 30-hour record, Blake Johnston told CNN Affiliate Nine News he was “cooked,” Australian slang meaning he was exhausted.
By early Friday, Johnston had ridden around 550 waves, and more were to come as supporters stood on the beach and cheered him on during a hot and sunny day in Sydney.
“He’s a big part of the Cronulla community and he’s got so many people around him, I think he’s probably running on adrenaline,” said Ben Johnston.
Under the rules of the record-breaking effort, paramedics were on standby and every hour the former pro surfer could come to shore – if he wished – to eat and drink.
Johnston had originally intended to run 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) to raise money, but after spending seven hours in a wave pool in Melbourne, he searched for information on the world record and found it was “only” 30 hours, according to his fundraising website.
“Blindness, infected ears, dehydration, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, sharks, drowning, and big ideas are all possible challenges that lie ahead in the unknown of surfing for the world record,” the website added.
A shark mitigation plan had been put in place, Ben Johnston told Sky News, though he said jellyfish had already posed problems.
Johnston said he and others had joined Blake for a surf on Thursday night and they were all stung by jellyfish, but that’s “part and parcel” of surfing, he added.
Money raised will support initiatives to help young people with mental health issues, through the Chumpy Pullin Foundation.
Chumpy Pullin was a two-time world champion Australian snowboarder who died while spearfishing in July 2020. He competed in three Olympics and held the flag for Australia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
His partner, Ellidy Pullin, gave birth to their baby 15 months after his death.