Ocean Calling

Ocean Calling

A freak accident left paddleboarder Jeff Denholm with a prosthetic arm, but that didn't stop him from competing in a 32-mile race for the sport's unofficial world championship.

Paddleboarding is a sport that uses arms — and no legs — to move a surfboard over the water. Since the mid-‘90s, when competitive athlete Jeff Denholm fell into commercial fishing machinery and lost an arm, he has worked to rehabilitate his body and create prosthetic devices that allow him to do the action sports he loves. This video, produced by his commercial sponsor, Patagonia, follows Denholm as he prepares for, and competes in, the Molokai Challenge — a grueling 32-mile open ocean paddle to Oahu.

For Denholm, the ocean is his escape. He says he is happiest when he’s paddling in a rhythm, and feels like he has two arms. Underwater shots of Denholm passing over on his board, as well as a look at the ocean floor from Denham’s perspective — replete with sea turtles — give the viewer a taste of what Denham enjoys about the sport. The x-factor for competition is his equipment, and Denholm has designed devices to assist him in several sports.

For the Molokai race, his prosthetic paddle arm was attached to his body with a silicon glue that should have resisted the ravages of ocean water and stress, but failed at the 15-mile point, forcing him to paddle half of the race with one arm. Just finishing the race brought Denholm to tears just to find himself “on the same playing field” as his idols. Images of Denholm navigating a rough sea on his paddleboard enhance the viewer’s appreciation of just how tough this feat must have been.

CHANNEL: YouTube/ fdcsurfboards

Length: 8:07

Video and photography by Tim Davis
Editor: Stuart Bjornlie
Soundtrack by Barefoot Truth