Photo Credit: Mariah Sievers Photography
A water world dreamland of
turquoise and deep rich royal blue. I wondered if it was the jet lag or a
waking dream. I had just traveled half way around the world and leap backwards
through the dateline but there was one thing I knew for sure: I just arrived at
one of the last great paradise island chains on earth, the Maldives. I was here
for an epic four day event at the Six Senses Resort on Laamu Atoll that my
company Positive H2O collaborated with others to create. Taking one look around
at the stunning setting I just knew it was going to be good!
With the opportunity to windsurf
the world there is no greater stoke for me than finding the perfect peeling
wave and epic sailing conditions in a beautiful location. But more and more my
attention is drawn to the disturbing amount of petrochemicals and plastics
polluting the ocean. A couple years ago I started asking myself: How can I help
keep the ocean and shoreline clean? What can I do as a pro-windsurfer to
influence others to focus on clean water issues and take action? These
questions rattled around in my head and out of this an idea was born; to join
other pro-watermen who also felt the desire to raise awareness for clean water
issues. Levi Siver, Keith Teboul, Pascal Bronnimann and I formed +H2O, a company
dedicated to promoting water awareness ranging from global access to clean
water, local beach clean ups or connecting corporations with non-profits that
focus on water conservation and sanitation.
Using this platform +H2O joined
forces with Six Senses Resort to host the first Annual WaterWo/Man Event on
Laamu Island. As it turns out some of the top water athletes around the world
are also hearing the siren's call to save the ocean. One by one we were joined
by other dedicated water men and woman, film makers, conservationists, charity
founders and celebrities who flew in from
France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Hawaii, India, Australia and
The event kicked off with early
morning surf sessions at Yin Yang, a glassy peeling point break. It was hard
not to smile surfing with dolphins in 80 degree crystal clear water. Epic AM
surf sessions gave the pros a chance to chill and bond before breaking into
small groups with the event attendees to give personalized instruction and
education on their specific water sport. From there the day just got better.
Imagine waking up in an amazing
overwater villa, downing some coffee, slapping on some sunscreen, hopping on a
bicycle (given to resort guests to cruise the island) and pedaling to a
personalized Stand Up Paddle lesson from big wave surfer Buzzy Kerbox and seven
time women's world surfing champion Layne Beachley. Only to follow that with an
afternoon kite instruction from Kite speed record holder Alex Caizergues or a
wake board challenge by Duncan Zuur, king of wake boarding. Then picture
yourself grabbing some organic locally grown grinds and heading in to the
Jungle Cinema to check out a short film on the dangers of over fishing.
Imagine another morning where you
cruse down the beach to test your skills at windsurfing with Pro-windsurfer
Levi Siver. Then see how long you can hold your breath under water with Anna
Von Boetticher, Women's World Record holder in Freediving. Or cycle to the
overwater cafe to enjoy a fresh juice before snorkeling the house reef off the
steps of the restaurant with aquaman Fabien Cousteau. In the afternoon another
great opportunity to relax under a leafy canopy listening to Eco-Debates from
game changers in the fields of water and human rights.
Each night participants kept the
momentum of the day going with cocktails on the sand bar during sunset,
watching the Windsurfing Movie II
and Soul Surfer on a big screen under the stars, and crowding around the
piano bar to listen to Beth Orton sing. One of the evenings the pros put on a
WaterWo/man show on Yin Yang for guests enjoying drinks on a nearby yacht.
Buzzy Kerbox worked his SUP surf skills for the crowd with ripping turn after
turn. Bethany Hamilton and Layne Beachley made it a ladies show doubling up on
Epic days turning into epic
nights, but the most important activity happened on the last day. Event
participants boarded boats from the resort and traveled 10 minutes by sea to
the nearby atoll Kunahandhoo. The local community turned out to welcome
everyone to their island with traditional Maldivian drumming and fresh coconuts
to drink. Participants and pros joined local school children for a beach clean
up, bagging up rubbish that cluttered the shoreline. The garbage was later
transferred to Laamu island's waste facility courtesy of Six Senses.
After we collected the trash the
community elders led us to the only school on the atoll where the younger
children greeted us with flowers and smiles. Sonu Shivdasani, the CEO of Six Senses gave a heart warming speech to
all in attendance about caring for the ocean. He spontaneously invited some of
the older students to come over to Laamu that afternoon for first-time surf
lessons taught to them by pros.
All in attendance had the chance
to walk around the atoll and see the clean water project co-funded by +H2O and
Six Senses and implemented through the Water Charity organization. The clean
water project are rain catchment systems set up on four atolls designed to
catch and store clean drinking water for over 3000 people to use during the dry
I’m very grateful and humbled that +H2O was giving the
opportunity to help these communities and meet the people who will benefit from
the clean water project. So you
may be asking what can I do to help?
There are a few things.
Try to find three things you can
do to become more carbon neutral.
Use less plastic and sustain from
buying bottled water.
Write, call and email your local
politician that is representing you to inform them and help make decisions for
a positive change.
Educate your friends and
Help by donating to our Water
Charity fund at http://watercharity.org/node/197 to help create more projects
There are solutions for our
problems and the only way we can solve them is for us all to work
together. We all have to act now
because waiting for tomorrow or for someone else to do it will be too late.
To learn more on what you can do
visit our site at www.positiveh2o.com