Saturday, 29 December 2012

Vale Chris James


Just over a week ago we lost our great mate Chris James.
Chris was the third member of our paddling team, and with his paddling skills forged in the heat of heaving seas & crunching surf, his attention to detail and endless reserves of optimism we had pulled off a couple of memorable trips, and had many more in the pipeline.


Chris was an incredible guy, fit & strong, a technician on the water of the highest order, and a mentor to so many paddlers. He was one of those rare people who'd take on a new challenge with relish, immerse himself in it, only happy when he'd well & truly conquered it, and then use the experience gained to build on the next big idea. And man did he have some big ideas. 
His brilliant entrepreneurial skills had seen him establish a long line of successful businesses, always working away on some new deal or plan, seeking out that elusive win-win point where everyone could walk away happy. Our trip meetings were often held at one of his beautiful restaurants, where as Rob pointed out in his touching eulogy to Chris at his funeral, we would bemuse Sydney's glitterati as we spread out nautical charts across a vacant banquet table and debated plans over a cold beer or three.
He was a great Dad to his little girls Kasey, Darcy & Lucy and his eyes shone when he spoke of his beloved soul mate & wife Sally.
We shared the modern affliction of busy business & family lives, & I considered Chris to be the bloke who had best managed to find the balance that we all seek. I've reflected on the way he went about things & realise that there is nothing wrong with seeking excellence in anything you do, it seemed to be the way Chris naturally attacked life. He was the kind of guy you just wanted to be like.
Rob & I shared some unforgettable moments with Chris & we are both devastated by his loss, so unfairly in the absolute prime of his life. I wrote about him after our One Degree paddle earlier this year 'the next time I paddle anywhere with him I'm going to sneak some Kryptonite into his day hatch. That'll stop him…!'  My lasting memory of that day was the final couple of hours where we were getting belted by breaking seas in the dark, after more than 100km of paddling. Chris started to laugh as one by one we'd get our go at being swept sideways by a hissing wave, and something that was probably quite grim suddenly became a bit of a boys game of roulette. It was typical Chris, a man who thrived on the idea of consequences and lived life as an adventure. 
We have shed too many tears over the past few days, too many for a guy like Chris anyway who would be looking at us a bit annoyed to have caused such a fuss, and doubtless be willing us back out to the sea.
Farewell Chris James, we promise to keep up the adventure.

5 comments:

  1. Hi there .
    My name is Antonio
    And i used to work for Chris at NPK
    Great boss and fantastic human being
    I remember seeing the enthusiasm and passion in Chris's face ,when he was about to get hes kayaks in the water
    To me he was a great mentor ,nice bloke and a friend
    All my thoughts stays with he's beautiful daughters ,Kasey ,Darcy ,Lucy and Sally he's wife .
    He definitely will be missed
    RIP mate

    Antonio Canto

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  2. Hi Mark thank you for the heartfelt words. Chris meant so much to many people. The pain of his loss is still vivid and I miss the laughter that he brought to our lives on a daily basis. As the second anniversary of Chris' death approaches I wonder how best to honour his life and memory with our three little girls. We are far from the sea and golden gaytimes though almond croissants are close to hand. I hope you guys get a chance to paddle together, preferably offshore with 20 plus knot winds and a big swell. Warmest wishes Sally

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  3. No Gaytimes in France Sal? That's gotta be one downside of that lovely little village of yours! We opened our new shop yesterday, and there is a pic of Chris paddling into the sunset which we mounted onto canvas front and centre. At the opening party last night it drew most of the attention, I'm sure you know the photo. Rob and will raise a glass at the anniversary of Chris' passing, and next Tuesday week all his mates from the Tuesday paddle will again visit his secret spot, a tradition we think will go on forever. I'll send you pics of both of these little celebrations. Almond croissants may do the job of a cold Gaytime, we'll be thinking of you guys.
    Mark & Rob.

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  4. Hi Sally, I truly feel for you. I had known Chris and the entire James family since I was around 7 years old when my family (the Minahans) moved to Sydney, he would have only been 11 at the time. He was such a wonderful man, the last time I saw him I would have been 14 and was good friends with his sister Liz. Have heard lots of stuff over the years since and my memories of him are thst he truly was a good man. God bless you.


    Cathy

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  5. Hi Sally, I truly feel for you. I had known Chris and the entire James family since I was around 7 years old when my family (the Minahans) moved to Sydney, he would have only been 11 at the time. He was such a wonderful man, the last time I saw him I would have been 14 and was good friends with his sister Liz. Have heard lots of stuff over the years since and my memories of him are thst he truly was a good man. God bless you.

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