‘Magical’: 500 paddle out at Narrabeen for Chumpy
There was magic in the air this morning as 500 mourners gathered to paddle out in memory of Alex "Chumpy" Pullin at North Narrabeen, the athlete's second home.
The Olympian and beloved figure in the sporting community lived on the Northern Beaches in his 20s, where he met his long-time girlfriend Ellidy Vlug before they moved to the Gold Coast.
He tragically drowned while spear fishing on this Gold Coast on Wednesday, aged 32.
Friend and organiser Chris Enever said those in attendance remembered Pullin's passion, energy and sense of humour, particularly when a few rough waves caused a little chaos.
"It was a magical morning - beautiful, strong, amazing, heartbreaking," Mr Enever said.
"The clouds opened up, it was the most perfect pristine day.
"I think Chumpy sent a few more waves than we were expecting that made it a bit tricky on the way out, threw a spanner in the works.
"I think he wanted it that way to have a laugh.
"It's so hard to comprehend and believe it's real. Everyone is still in disbelief and thinking he'll pop back up and make a joke."
In the water, the group placed long stemmed flowers into the water and listened to one of Pullin's songs.
One of Pullin's closest friends, fellow snowboarder Nate Johnstone, read out a heartfelt speech written by he and Sean Tully.
"Chump you were taken from us far too early, however your time here was not wasted and your approach to life was infectious," Mr Johnstone read to the group.
"The legacy you've left behind is something to be admired, and it's an inspiration to so many … but who you were to me was the person I looked up to most and I'm so proud to call you my friend.
"I know you're up there looking down on us with a smile and the support you have here today shows how much you are loved.
"The world needs more people like you in it.
"Our time for making new memories has passed, but the ones we have, we will forever hold in our hearts.
"I love you like a brother.
"Rest easy, you will never be forgotten."
There were plenty of tears but plenty of smiles too as gatherers remembered Pullin's ability to make those in his company feel like their best mate, Mr Enever said.
But despite the magic of the morning and obvious display of the impact Pullin had on so many people's lives, it will take a long time for the community to recover.
"How can someone that amazing be taken from this earth?" Mr Enever said.
"He made you feel like his best mate even if you just met him.
"He had the best energy in the world.
"(It is a) Big wake up call."
Originally published as 'Magical': 500 paddle out at Narrabeen for Chumpy