Rob Rojas and his 10-year-old son, Conrad, in the midst of the 24-hour journey. Photo: Riviera Paddlesurf

Rob Rojas and his 10-year-old son, Conrad, in the midst of the 24-hour journey. Photo: Riviera Paddlesurf

Rob Rojas On His 24-Hour Paddle

Rob Rojas recently paddled 24-hours straight in Southern California waters to raise money for the cancer awareness group Ocean of Hope. Rojas, 41, a Fish & Game warden by day, and endurance SUP legend by night (he often trains in the wee hours of the morning before work and took line honors at the 2014 Battle of the Paddle distance race), claims he was in church when he just “had the idea of doing this 24-hour paddle.” His 10-year-old son is obviously cut from the same cloth, joining his dad for the first stretch of the paddle, 23 miles from Newport Harbor to Dana Point Harbor, starting at 7 a.m. during the Hal Rosoff Classic. Once in Dana Point, the elder Rojas did lap after lap—often being joined by paddling supporters, including some cancer survivors and current battlers—until the clock struck seven once again. We caught up with him to get his take on the feat.

How did your son Conrad end up doing the Newport to Dana Point section with you?
He woke up two days prior and said “Dad I want to paddle Newport to Dana with you for cancer.” I didn’t push him and I told him he could stop at any time and Mom could pick him up. He stayed committed and followed through, which is what I am most proud of.

Does he paddle distances like that often?
This is the first time he has gone over 20. He has done several races in the five-to-eight mile range in 2014.

How’d you settle on paddling for cancer awareness?

Cancer affects everybody. It affects heroes and cowards, men and women, adults and babies, cops, firefighters, military personnel. It is indiscriminate and most of all, cancer sucks!

What was the hardest portion of the paddle for you?
Saying goodbye to my son after spending six-to-seven hours paddling the coast with him.

How many people paddled with you over the 24 hours?
Approximately 20 total over the 24-hour period. I was never alone.

We understand you had some paddlers with cancer come paddle with you? Tell us about that.
It was pretty awesome and humbling to me. Here we had two guys, Bill Kindel and Wally Buckingham, both are going through chemo right now and both charged right through it and have winning attitudes. They are beating cancer and kicking its ass. Both guys paddled multiple laps with me and both donated to the cause. In addition, Wally’s twin brother, Wayne Buckingham just beat cancer in October and came down and paddled a bunch of laps as well. I figure odds are I may get cancer someday and if I do, I want to be like Wally, Wayne, and Bill!

How did you eat? Did you just sit on your board?
Naw, I was very spoiled with the good food. When people bring you chicken long rice soup, won ton soup and carne asada tacos, you have to stop and eat!!!

How does your family deal with your training schedule for events like this?
Train? I just got in shape as I went along haha! It’s all in the head and the most important thing you can do for something like this is know you can do it and get your sleep!

What is your training schedule like for something like this?
I trained normally. Hit the gym approximately three days per week, paddled approximately three days per week and surfed when the surf was good!

More Rojas here.