Persistent Paddlers – Brendan O’Sullivan

Brendan O’Sullivan has regularly paddled one of the fastest but most unstable craft in the fleet, leading to unexpected swims.

Only a handful of paddlers have completed more Classics than Brendan O’Sullivan. He has set records in a variety of craft but perhaps what sets him apart is that three generations of O’Sullivans have been involved. He has paddled on multiple occasions with his father, one of these with a broken back, and this year aims to compete with his son.

Q. How many Classics have you completed? 33 Consecutive. Every year since I was 15 years old
Q. Why do you keep coming back? Used to be that I wanted to beat my previous times, set a new record or finish in the top 10. But these days (and age) I just want to finish
Q. In what classes have you competed and with whom? Junior TK2 with Peter Dorsman. Open K4 with Brian O'Sullivan (Dad) and Peter and Brian Dorsman (Father & Son). Mixed OK4 with Peter Dorsman, Dallas Newman and another female whose name eludes me. Mixed OK2 with Dallas Newman. OK2 with Brian O'Sullivan (Father). OK1. VK1

Q. What will you be paddling in 2020? At this stage looking to paddle with my 17 year old son Connor (first HCC for him) in a medium rec
Q. Have you ever capsized? Yes, 4 times. 3 times within the last 2km, and one of those times was actually within sight of the finish and the outgoing tide assisted me to swim across the finish with the boat
Q. What is your favourite memory from your Classics? Actually finishing it in 2005 in a K2 with Dad. That was the year that I broke my neck racing my motorbike in the July which left me a quadriplegic. After extensive rehab and learning how to walk again, I had very little training and I only got my neck brace off 3 weeks before the race. I was more of a passenger after 30km, Dad really did all the work. It set my rehab back about 2 months and the Doctors were not happy with me but were amazed that I did it. It was my goal to enter, finish and keep my consecutive finishes going.
Q. What feature of the Classic do you think might most attract a first-timer? The challenge and the added bonus of discovering the beauty of traveling at night, and the comradery of the other paddlers talking to everyone and assisting strangers if needed.