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John 'Jack' O'Brien departing Watson's Bay on SS BILL FISHER

Date: 1952
Overall: 205 x 255 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Mervin O'Brien Estate
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00039916

User Terms

    This photograph shows endurance surf ski paddler Jack O'Brien departing Watson's Bay on his double surf ski SS BILL FISHER (formerly BIG DOLPHIN) at 9:30pm for his record-setting voyage to Newcastle. O'Brien arrived in Newcastle 22 hours later having paddled 80 miles (128 km). O'Brien used the moonlight to avoid the reefs, sharks and porpoises along the way.
    SignificanceThis photograph relates to John 'Jack' O'Brien, who pioneered endurance surf ski paddling in Australia and completed ten endurance trips from 1940 to 1962 between Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle.
    HistoryJohn 'Jack' O'Brien, former Queenscliff lifesaver and professional boxer, was a pioneer of endurance solo paddling using single and double surf skis. Over the course of ten trips from 1940 to 1962 he attempted or set non-stop paddling records on ocean trips between Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle. His training regime included cycling 48 km a day, following a strict vegetarian diet and 24 hour endurance paddling sessions.

    Being tied to his craft in rough seas, navigating by day and night and avoiding hazards such as reefs, rocks and sharks were all part of the challenge. In 1952 he claimed a world record for the greatest distance for non-stop ocean paddling in a 24 hour period, paddling 128km in 22 hours between Watson's Bay and Newcastle. Although his claims were contested in the media and subsequently bettered by others, he is remembered for pushing the boundaries of ocean paddling on surf skis.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: John 'Jack' O'Brien departing Watson's Bay on SS BILL FISHER

    Assigned title: Jack O'Brien on double ski SS BILL FISHER

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