Gavin Pratt – from Burleigh to Shanghai
Chris Evans | An introduction
Gavin Pratt (Fats) is a surfer, coach, athlete, and just an all round champion. We’ve been mates since early primary school and have shared plenty of adventures together – from Gnaraloo to surfing in New York to volunteering in an orphanage in Mexico to Margaret River to the Goldy and Byron to Guatemala and Nicoragua. Plenty of adventures and plenty more stories!
Fats has always been naturally good at stuff. When we were growing up the lucky bugger would be a natural at whatever he tried his hand at – captain of the East Fremantle colts, state volleyball, districts cricket, boxing or in the water – he’d just pick things up quickly. But that was a long time ago and being a natural has a life span and a useful life. Far more impressive than his collection of silverware is his character and specifically his humility and his persistence. A steady march forward. With each goal achieved he would once again lift his eyes up to his new horizon, and start moving towards that new peak in the distance.
There’s undoubtedly a lesson in this for all of us – ability is absolutely important, and in a lot of circumstances it’s undoubtedly a tick to play, but over the long haul, life rewards prolonged effort. There’s plenty of talented people who hit their peak in their teens, or twenties, and plenty of people who plateau in terms of ambition and focus – and that’s totally ok and everyone has their path, but there really is something inspiring about the journeyman and those that just keep taking those small steps forward. Those that continue to grow. This is what makes Fatty’s journey inspiring and one that we can all take something from for it’s the journey that is the reward. And here’s the rub – ability is all well and good, but it’s Fat’s character that makes him a champion!
Fats shares his latest instalment with Quipmo – moving from Burleigh to Shanghai.
Gavin Pratt | Date 11/11 /17
I was at a crossroads and a decision had to be made.
At the time, I was living what I thought was the dream life. My own business (coaching athletes & general populations) on the Gold Coast, was affording me a great lifestyle and also allowing me to rack up the hours in the some of the best waves in the world, almost daily.
At home in front of the camera.
However, there was still something eating away at me. Was this it? Do I just do this for the rest of my life? There had to be other places to explore and different personal challenges ahead… surely?
Coincidentally, I then got an email. It was from a well-known strength & conditioning company is the USA called EXOS, and they wanted to know if I was interested in moving to China to help prepare elite athletes for the largest sporting competition in the world, The National Games of the People’s Republic of China.
China wasn’t my first thought when I was wondering if there was more avenues to explore in life, but hey, why the hell not give it a go?!! So my girlfriend and I packed up our life and moved to Shanghai to search for greener, more-eastern pastures.
China is a different beast altogether. Not only culturally, but in pure weight of numbers. The city of Shanghai has the same number of people as the entire population of Australia….and that’s just one city! Things are just done differently here and it took a few months of adjustment to work ourselves into the ‘system’.
Fats presenting at the Shanghai National Strength & Conditioning Association conference!
No waves for miles – why not go and crank out a half marathon to kill some time
The coach in action.
Han going over the specifics of Supplementation for Injury & Performance, at the Shanghai Research Institute of Sports Science
However, this wasn’t my only challenge, as I’d gone from surfing almost daily to wondering when I’d get the opportunity to surf next…and where? Surfing to me is a medication. It pushes me to perform better than before, like a good hit of adrenaline. It makes me relax like mediation. Finally, it keeps me focused on the important things in life, such as my health and loved ones. So when this ‘medication’ is taken away from me, things start to get a little shaky (and if I’m being honest, I tend to get a little grumpy too!).
“Surfing to me is a medication. It pushes me to perform better than before, like a good hit of adrenaline.”
I had to come up with an alternative way to approach my surfing, knowing consistent waves at my doorstep were no longer available. I work 6 days per week and have 1 weekend off per month, so my idea was to approach that weekend as a 2-day strike mission to places I haven’t surfed, with the hope of stumbling upon a wave that made the travel time entirely worth it. Rather than look for perfection, I had to readjust my line of thinking. It would be more like an adventure of journey and discovery, and if waves happened to be the end result, I’d be even more stoked with the outcome.
With this line of thinking, I have managed to surf new countries, including China and Taiwan, with some small islands around the place being my next line of focus. I’ve also managed to score a couple of epic sessions with 1-2 people out, making my time at Snapper and Burleigh seem like a nightmare (but the waves there are just so good!).
“Rather than look for perfection, I had to readjust my line of thinking. It would be more like an adventure of journey and discovery, and if waves happened to be the end result, I’d be even more stoked with the outcome.”
I’m not sure how long I’ll remain in China, but no matter what happens next, or where I move to, the idea of ripping off Rip Curl’s motto, “The Search” seems to be an appropriate moniker to live by. Get away from the crowds, find your adventure and enjoy the fact that your life enables you to experience such amazing things.
To be honest, I miss the Gold Coast like crazy. It really is home. However, the opportunity and experiences we have had since moving to China have been life-altering and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The best thing we can do is to get out there and start exploring this amazing planet! Yeeew!