West Coast paddlers and ocean lovers gathered on Tofino’s Mackenzie Beach last Saturday to honour an inspirational champion of change.
Cancer took Bob Purdy’s life on Jan. 29. He was 64.
The Paddle for the Planet founder moved to the West Coast from his longtime Okanagan home in 2015 and made an immediate and profound impact on his new surroundings, quickly becoming a familiar face in the ocean and stalwart ally of environmental and social initiatives.
Through Paddle for the Planet, Purdy urged everyone in earshot and beyond to create positive change.
“You can look out your back window virtually anywhere on the planet and see things that need to be changed,” he told the Westerly News on New Year’s Eve, 2015, before heading out on his Stand up Paddleboard for his 1,826th consecutive day.
Despite breaking his nose at Coho Beach the first time he tried the sport in 2007, Purdy became a pioneer of Stand Up Paddleboarding and fell in love with the sport so deeply that he opened his own SUP shop. He sold that shop in 2010 and began his consecutive paddleboarding streak, which he began on Jan. 1, 2011, in an effort to motivate others to make social, environmental and economic changes in their world.
“We as a species, I think, have lost our connection to the natural world and with stand up paddle it just brings you right back there,” he said. “When you’re connected to nature you’ll take care of it and if we can get that message across that’s going to be a huge help.”
Hernia surgery brought an end to Purdy’s streak at 2,100 days on Oct. 1, 2016.
His legacy, and the change he inspired, was on full display on Saturday morning as the people whose lives he touched paddled out together to celebrate his impact.
“I’m here to pay some respects to a really good solid guy,” said Tofino councillor Greg Blanchette.
“I won’t say last respects, because I’ll be paying respects to the guy for, well, every time I see somebody on a paddleboard. Every time I go near the ocean, I’ll give him a thought…He was a visionary. He had a vision and he walked it for years and years and years. I’ve really got to admire him for that.”