Growing up John O’Hara sport of choice was basketball.
The Gloucester native was a standout on the Gloucester High School basketball team up until he graduated in 1981 and even took his talents on the hardwood to the collegiate level. But once in college O’Hara found a new passion, surfing.
That passion has served O’Hara well over the last three decades as he competed in the International Surfing Association’s World Paddle Board Championships in Lima, Peru. O’Hara, nicknamed “Johnny O”, competed in the February 24-March 2 event on the Irish National Team as he has dual American and Irish citizenship.
O’Hara, who has always been a big fan and participant in numerous water sports took up standup paddle board (SUP) racing in 2007 and competed against the best paddle boarders in the world representing 23 countries from Latin America to Europe to Japan to Tahiti.
“Everything went great,” O’Hara said. “The heat was tough and the visibility was tough but it was a great event and a great experience.”
O’Hara, 50, is a seasoned veteran when it come to the SUP racing scene as he went undefeated in the 2011 Atlantic Paddle Board Association’s “Summer Race Series” and has reached the medal podium in every race he has entered in New England since.
At the World Paddle Board Championships O’Hara competed in two races; the Marathon and the Technical Race.
Despite the fact that the majority of competitors were half O’Hara’s age, he more than held his own in the 14 mile marathon finishing in 21st place.
O’Hara and the competitors had to navigate thick fog, choppy water and the Latin American heat in the 14 mile trek. Competitors also had to rely on each other for a little boost, which is exactly what O’Hara did. The Gloucester native teamed up with a Japanese paddle boarder and the two switched off drafting on one another for the length of the 14 mile jaunt.