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The Wriggler’s Winning Year

24 November 2016

Stewart McLachlan

It's hard to believe that this year is coming to an end Funky Trunkers. We think that before the festive season kicks in, it's a good time to reflect on some of our F-Teamers big achievements in 2016. One of the highlights for us was our man Stewart McLachlan demolishing the competition at the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships. We caught up with the Funky Trunker to discuss what was a big year, both on and off the water.

Stewart McLachlan commanded everyone's attention at the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships in July, and not just because of his brightly coloured Funky Trunks. He blitzed the competition in his debut at the annual championships, paddling his way to a World Title and a new course record of 5:05:31. The Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships started in 1997 and is an open-ocean endurance paddleboard challenge. Racers compete in both the prone and stand-up divisions - Stewart was in the prone category. Competitors make the 52km journey across the 700 metre deep Ka'iwi Channel, also known as the Channel of Bones which connects the islands of Molokai and Oahu.

"It was an incredible experience. To be out on the open ocean for over five hours, words can't describe that. To just complete the race, never mind finish first, is amazing," Stewart says.

Stewart McLachlan
Stewart and Tabitha celebrated his win together, and just got married!

Affectionately known as 'The Wriggler' due to his racing style, Stewart is a busy man. He just finished his third degree, a Masters in Environmental Law, having already completed a degree in Science and a Masters in Business and Environmental management. Now he's planning a PhD! And in case that wasn't enough activity for 2016, he also got married to his fiancée Tabitha!

The Wriggler also juggles his paddle boarding endeavours along with his surf lifesaving commitments, a sport he's equally successful in. He is one of only two competitors in more than 100 years of Australian surf lifesaving to win three Australian Open Board Titles in a row. At age nine, his parents signed him up for nippers so he could make new friends and learn vital surf survival skills. From day one Stewart was hooked. The addition of prone paddling to his repertoire was spontaneous after a random opportunity presented itself.

"I was attending the World Surf Life Saving Titles in France in 2014 where they decided to add a 12ft (a longer paddleboard) 14km distance race to the calendar. I thought 'why not?' and decided to have a go. That's when I won my first World Title," he reveals.

For Stewart, his outstanding memory so far is from the Open Australian Board Final at the 2013 Australian Surf Life Saving Titles.

"It was my sixth consecutive year making the final and never placing in the top three. I went on to win the race and the feeling of crossing the line first, knowing that my dream as a 9-year-old had finally come true after 15 long, hard years of training, perseverance and sacrifice, was unbelievable!"

Stewart has an ambitious goal for his sporting career, one he is working very hard to achieve.

"My dream is to increase exposure to the sport of board paddling, in particular lay-down board paddling and hopefully create a world tour," he says.

We don't doubt that this Funky Trunks star will do everything in his power to make that dream come true.

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