Blake Johnston, Certified Aussie Legend, Attempts The World’s Longest Surf Session For Mental Health Awareness

What a champion.

Image: John Veage

Former pro surfer Blake Johnston is currently in the midst of a monumental challenge, attempting to ride 500 waves in just 40 hours. Why? As well as showing the people of Cronulla a good time, Johnston hopes that his feat will raise awareness of mental health issues as well as funds for a local charity that helps youth in crisis.

Having started his quest at 1 a.m. this morning, Johnston plans to hit more than twelve waves per hour until 6 p.m. on Friday. The Australian surfer is taking on this challenge at Cronulla’s “The Alley,” with a wave counter on the beach ticking over like a scoreboard and floodlights providing assistance during the long, dark hours or dusk, dawn, and night.

Johnston is confident that the training he has done for previous endurance events has prepared him for this challenge. His previous challenges include running a number of barefoot marathons and an ultra-marathon along the NSW South Coast with only bananas and the bush for company.

“I’ve tested mental my capacity in previous challenges and pushed through”, Johnston told the ABC with hard-won confidence, “I know that doing it with the community support is gonna be amazing”. Whilst on the water, Johnston hopes to receive support from other surfers who will keep him company and catch waves with him throughout the gruelling session.

Blake Johnston rides a huge wave.
Johnston has been surfing since he was 6 years old, going pro at a young age. Image: Geelong Advertiser

This new mission is intended to inspire others to seek their own similar challenges that push their boundaries – both mentally and physically – while promoting an overall healthy lifestyle.

As for his board of choice, it’s a standard shortboard made by Chilli Surfboards, with Johnson noting that the board is epoxy “which gives it a little more inflation… [which should] help as the fatigue sets in”.

Fuel is a crucial part of this challenge too. Johnston’s wife “has packed forty-five lunches to make sure [he’s] safe and healthy”. He plans to eat “a lot of food from the get-go”, eating every hour and hydrating every half hour.

Alongside the surfing challenge, there will be onshore ice baths and breathwork seminars to promote meditation and breathing techniques. This dovetails with Johnston’s effort alongside this challenge to raise funds for a local charity that helps youth in crisis.

He also hopes to promote a raised awareness of mental health issues, a cause that the surfer has been passionate about since his own father took his own life ten years ago: “It’s been with me ever since, but it’s given me the power to share the message”.

Blake Johnston and his family.
Johnston with his family, who’ll be at The Alley supporting him throughout the challenge. Image: The Telegraph

Johnston argues that community engagement is an essential part of good mental health and wants to bring the community together in this challenge. He also aims to make meditation and breathwork more accessible and to demonstrate how they can help people in their daily lives:

“I want to create initiatives where kids learn actionable skills – mindfulness, breathwork, the power of gratitude” in the hope that young people will “not only survive but thrive, get through the hard times, tick off any goals or dreams they have”.

If Johnston can complete his challenge, it will be one of the greatest feats of human endurance in history. Although surfing is not as well known for endurance challenges as running or swimming, catching and riding waves requires a significant amount of energy. And guess what? He “couldn’t wait to jump in the water”.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please contact Beyond BlueLifelineSuicide Call Back ServiceMensLine Australia or see your GP for help.