The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

As the flats begin to incline....

Central Gippsland disappeared in a flash. Relatively flat ground betrayed what lay ahead and I pushed east with a number of things on my mind.

The troubles with the team that riddled our passage through southern South Australia had abated. With future journeys in mind – not to mention a book about the inception of BoardFree – the team is never far from my thoughts. My life is at its easiest when everyone is on form, operating to their full potential and enjoying themselves. Of course, even now, tiffs and moods break out regularly and when stuck in a vacuum it takes a while for the temperature to change again. On the road I mull over every detail of this journey, wondering whether or not I’ll have a team this large for future treks, questioning whether or not glum faces mean they’ve lost enthusiasm for BoardFree or that there’s just a low moment in the offing. Without doubt the more people the better in terms of keeping me mentally healthy, but it adds pressures for a skater who also manages his team and acts as ultimate mediator in disputes. My reading of personalities and how they fit into a pressure-cooker environment has improved as the kilometres go by, my ability to deal with a number of different personalities differs depending on my fatigue but I’d hope has strengthened. How to improve your curriculum vitae in six thousand easy steps!

The flat land separating Melbourne and the Great Dividing Range that lays across eastern Victoria caused my shoes to wear down at the sole, and bit by bit the lack of cushioning beneath my toes started to wear down my feet. As blisters started to form – slowly enough to evade my complete attention: blister pains are a regular feature of my life now – the towns of Traralgon and Sale offered up opportunities to visit Specialist Schools, home to children of various ages and disabilities who have the opportunity to sail with Sailability. On consecutive days I followed a brief talk with a ‘High Five Roll’ along lines of pupils, meeting hands with everyone and realising that Sailability’s work goes far further than just an entry to sport, it’s a chance for people – youngsters especially – to develop a sense of independence and physical individuality. At first glance most people wouldn’t believe what these kids are capable of in a boat, their achievements – not necessarily rewarded by medals or trophies – increase awareness of disability amongst the able bodied. I was happy to hand over contributions to local Sailability clubs at Wellington and Gippsland willing to recognise us, on behalf of BoardFree.

In Sale we followed up a wonderful Channel 7 report filmed at the Latrobe Specialist School earlier that day with fundraising at a local pub. Dim and Pete joined us in their new van, Natalie, and brought with them a new and unexpected guest, my brother! Family support has budged weight from my shoulders throughout this project and to see Andy waddle in with Aviator sunglasses and a familiar cheeky grin was another lift at the end of a great week.

The next day he cycled alongside me for the entire 72km between Sale and Bairnsdale, and then on the following day ran shuttles towards Lakes Entrance, surely drawing lines for the rest of the team as they had a long-time concern confirmed: the Cornthwaite family might be physically fit, but Dave certainly isn’t the only crazy one.

We rested for a day in Lakes Entrance, a beautiful little town beached on the man-made channel between Gippsland lakes and the wide ocean beyond, and were fed by the generous Sheryl and friends from Kickback Cottages. Sheryl had heard one of my radio interviews earlier in the week and hadn’t hesitated in joining forces with friend Jodie and cooking up a feast for us. On the BBQ, of course.

Ahead was a long road to Sydney. One rest day never seems enough when 800km of hills looms ahead. The condition of my feet also stressed that a longer break was needed and on Monday morning – as I pushed north-east under the glare of television cameras which would be responsible for world-wide news reports thanks to the Australian SNTV – the aching in my feet, ankles and legs didn’t bode well. The Great Dividing Range was coming closer, and with it was to come my greatest challenge yet.


  • At 1:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting stuff. My brother and head of engineering for managed a breif chat with you also, while you stayed in sale. As promised there is a section on our website in support of your quest. it can be seen in the 'reviews' section of the website. Any issues contact me:


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