Shark attack survivor Brett Connellan conquers 51 kilometre paddle

Desiree Savage
By Desiree Savage
August 6 2022 - 12:00am
Pictures: Teel Studios

Shark attack survivor Brett Connellan is feeling amazing and fulfilled after conquering a 51-kilometre open water paddle in Hawaii in late July.

Connellan's body may be permanently damaged after an encounter with a fierce ocean creature tore away three-quarters of his left thigh in March 2016, but he was determined to prove you can do anything you put your mind and document it with film.

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"As soon as I touched the sand on Oahu I told my girlfriend Noémie to not let me do the paddle again," he said of the gruelling journey between Molokai and Oahu.

"But with a few days having passed I've had thoughts about things I could have done differently or better so who knows, I may be back in Hawaii sooner than I initially would have liked."

Connellan, from Kiama on the NSW South Coast, said the paddle was "by far" the most difficult thing he has ever done.

"I'm definitely relieved to have completed the paddle, it's something I've been talking about for so long and to finally be over here and be confronted with the challenge," Connellan said.

"I've never felt so fulfilled with anything before because of what goes into the paddle ... it's a logistical challenge that was made ever more difficult with COVID over the past few years. That extra lead up time was something that added the the how anxious you can feel undertaking something like this."

The feat wasn't just personal for Connellan, who now uses his story of survival to inspire others, it was the final chapter for the documentary he has been filming, Attacking Life (originally to be called Pyrophytic).

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The film has followed his adventures over the last few years like training for a marathon and surfing huge waves in Fiji.

"That's my main focus to have a tangible piece of work to show for what I've been through since my life changed after the shark attack," Connellan said.

"I'm always focused on inspiring others so any chance I get to share my story I'm always excited to make a difference."

It's hoped the documentary film will be finished by the end of 2022.

Desiree Savage

Desiree Savage

Arts, Entertainment, Breaking News Journalist

I write about arts and entertainment, plus other bits and pieces in between at the Illawarra Mercury.