A Pro Surfer and a Pro Snowboarder Sailed All the Way From Tahiti to Hawaii — Here's What They Learned
Travis Rice and Ian Walsh may just be the preeminent experts in adventure. In fact, both men are professionals when it comes to pushing the limits and doing the things most people are too sane to do.
If you’re unfamiliar with their names, let us explain: Rice is a 35-year-old professional snowboarder, who over his career has starred in more than 20 snowboarding films and racked up more medals than we care to count off here. His counterpart, Walsh, is a 34-year-old professional surfer, who like Rice has starred in innumerable films and paddled his way to his fair share of titles.
And you’d think this was enough for the duo, but that’s where your understanding of thrill-seekers falls short. For them, it’s not enough to win some awards. Rather, it’s key to keep pushing for the next life-changing experience. For Walsh and Rice, that experience included sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti on a combo adventure-eco mission for a new film, "Lines to Hawaii." The pair sailed off into the sunset with the goal of searching for epic surf and exploring some the most remote islands on Earth, the Line Islands.
Oh, and it’s crucial to note neither one had ever really sailed before.
“For me this trip was a bucket list item,” Walsh told Travel + Leisure over the phone as he sat on the shore in Hawaii. For their 19-day trip, Walsh explained, he and Rice immersed themselves in learning all they could about sailing, but it really came down to “trial by fire.”
So the pair, who typically operate on opposite work schedules for obvious reasons, simply blocked off the time to make this trip of a lifetime happen. And truly, it was a fairly solitary mission as the 25-foot boat was only big enough to hold Wash, Rice, and two other guys, first mate Graham Scott and Amory Ross, who would be filming their journey.
“I think we all bonded really well and everyone had incredible decision-making and were really accountable,” he said. In fact, the group became so close that when their trip came to a close and they pulled into port in Hawaii they skipped out on their luxury hotel stay and all slept on the boat one more night together instead.
Of course, living on a tiny boat meant the entire crew had to pack like professionals too. And Walsh said they all did a fine job of bringing along just the essentials, like “some good polarized sunglasses” and a few small bags. “I actually packed lighter for that trip than almost every trip I did that year,” Walsh said. “You just kind of wear what you have on and can sort of wash as much as you can.”
But this trip wasn’t just about a group of guys having a good time on a boat. Rather than simply making the journey about getting from point A to point B, Walsh said they chose to incorporate a little eco-mission into their trip. This way their travels would not only be beneficial to them, but also to the scientific and global community.
“The trip actually officially became an expedition when we started to do some scientific research,” Walsh said. “Basically every hundred miles we were collecting water samples for Adventure Scientists.”
Thanks to their efforts along the way, scientists were then able to test for microplastics in very remote parts of the ocean that only the two athletes had traveled through. And sadly, the athlete’s found that 73 percent of the water samples contained microplastics, despite being in some of the most remote areas on Earth.
“There was something that was so gratifying about being that removed,” Walsh said of his trip highlights. “You're kind of at the mercy of your own decision making and you're constantly living in this window of looking at what's right in front of you and adapting and adjusting to whatever that might be... It's a unique feeling to be completely self-sufficient on your own out there.”
Check out their entire journey going 2,500 nautical miles from Tahiti to Hawaii here.