RM Paddle: 10Qs w/Zeb Walsh

2013 Molokai2Oahu and Catalina Classic Champ, and he wields a sharp axe

Zeb Walsh
Age 33
Hometown: Torquay, Australia

With the biggest races on the paddleboard racing calendar just days away, our emails landed us a few continents away to gather some insights from the 2013 Molokai Stock Champ, Zeb “Bear” Walsh.  Calling him the 2013 Molokai Champ sells him short, though.  Zeb is in a race and elite class of paddlers that can lay claim to winning both the Molokai to Oahu and the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race in the same year - 6 people to be exact.  Not only that, Zeb was a star on the Australian sprint circuit and the dude can throw some nice snaps on a surfboard as well.  I first met Zeb in Australia during a Weiland Shield Lifeguard Competition and he was just starting to ask questions about distance racing - little did I know he would be later laying claim to one of the toughest accomplishments in paddleboard racing.  But all accolades aside, Zeb is a lot of fun to spend some time with, and like most of the Aussies I’ve gotten to know over the years, he tells us like it is.  Here’s Zeb . . . 

RM: How many years have you been competing?
ZW: In the open Ocean (Molokai and Catalina) stuff about 5-6 years but Surf Life Saving paddle stuff my whole life, really.

RM: What fuels your competitiveness?
ZW: I am Australian - it is just in our blood to be competitive. We will make a race out of anything really - haha.  To be honest I don't think there has ever been anything that hasn't ended up being a competition between mate's in Aus. You ever say to an Aussie “I could beat you at that” and you will never get back "yeah you probably will."  They will be like "you want to make it a race mate" - haha!

RM: What athletes inspire you?
ZW: I have so many people that inspire me. I think Jack Bark has really pushed me to step up, but Eric Abbott and Mikey Cote, Keoni Watson all the past stock champions [too]. George Ramos was someone I didn't really know personally but the stories I have been told about him and what he used to do, made him really stand out to me as a inspirational person.  I think anyone that puts in the time and is on that start line on the 26th of July inspires me in some way or another.

RM: What are you training for now?
ZW: I am just about to leave for Hawaii for the Molokai 2 Oahu and can't wait to see what the channel gives us this year. And whatever Adventure Jack, Brad, and I have next.

RM: Lone wolf or training companion? why?
ZW: I have done more of my training as a lone wolf for many years. But the last couple more people down here are getting into it and taking on the channel and it has made training way better.

RM: What training secrets are you willing to share?
ZW: I would just say train hard. These races don't give you anywhere to hide; so if you don't do the work, it is only going to hurt yourself. But have fun and challenges and hard work can still be fun.

RM: Pinnacle racing moment so far?
ZW: Pinnacle race moment I would have to say Molokai 2 Oahu 2013 stock win. But Catalina was a huge one too, and to get them both within the one month pretty much was a dream come true for me. And Catalina has the best trophy of all time - a Joe Bark gun.  So that race is the one that keeps on giving every time the swell gets big enough!

RM: How Do you balance family life and training?
ZW: Well, I do it the best I can. I normally get up early in the dark and get a session done before they wake up and I have to go to work, then try to fit another one in at lunch time or after work.

RM: What about with travel for races?
ZW: Travel for races is hard because we don't make money for this sport - we do it for the love of it.  I can't take my family with me which is hard - I want them to get to go to the places I get to go to.

RM: Since July/August is mid-winter in Aus, is it tough staying fit for the US race season?
ZW: No, it is just what I am used to now. It is hard sometimes to be motivated to get up and train when the outside temp is a little over 1 degree (Celsius) and the wind chill is even lower, but you just have to deal with what you have.

RM: What advice do you have for new paddlers getting started?
ZW: Just go out there and have fun, really.

RM: What's one thing they can do to become a better athlete?
ZW: Always put 100% into your training, and learn from your mistakes. If you have a bad race, don't dwell on the negatives; find the positives and remember not to make the same mistakes again.

RM: Weekend trip... where to? what do you bring? 
ZW: Camping down the coast.
My Beautiful wife and kids.
probably a paddle board,
Never leave home with a couple of short boards (from Surftech of course) 
Maybe my bow if it is allowed to for some hunting.
An Axe for cutting firewood.
And we would be in my shitty 1993 Toyota Hilux

RM: Who are your current sponsors?
ZW: I have been very lucky to have great support for some great companies that are still looking after me today. Patagonia has been amazing and really helps me get to where I am today. Surftech has become a huge part of my everyday life, first a sponsor and now I am working for them in Aus. Dragon sunglasses has been amazing; Reef shoes; Vertra; The Molokai Group (Nick Malony); and the Bark family has been a second family to me since being on their paddle team. I wish I could get more air time to thank all these guys for their help.

RM: Do you have a dream race you want to create?
ZW: Yeah I have one or two ideas for a race at home. finger crossed we can make them happen.

RM:Training Tracks: Favorite songs to train/race to? 
ZW: I like Aussie Rappers so you probably want know any of them - haha. But here are a couple and some rock ones everyone knows.
Bliss n Eso- Pale Blue Dot (this song was playing when I crossed the finish line of Molokai when I won)
Bliss n Eso- Reservoir dogs
Awolnation- Sail
Xavier Rudd- Follow the Sun ( it is a mellow song but reminds me of home and the remote areas I paddle)

1.9K 224