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Real Risk

Author: Richard Harris

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Richard Harris SC OAM, 2019 Joint Australian of the Year talks about risk with real, live, risk takers. How can one person BASE jump from a bridge when another gets dizzy at the top of the stairs? Why might you fear going into an elevator when I love to explore flooded caves? Real Risk gets into the weeds with the people we all think are crazy, to find that mostly, they aren’t at all. They just have a different view of the world around them, often driven by curiosity or a need to test themselves. I guarantee you’ll be inspired to push yourself a little harder. Contact me on
25 Episodes
Watch the video podcast on YouTube HEREHugh Riminton is a citizen of the world. Growing up in Ceylon, then New Zealand before moving to Australia he has covered stories from around the globe. From the world's most dangerous settlement of Soweto, the killing fields of Rwanda and the horrific cost of the Somalian famine; I suspect Hugh's eyes have witnessed more pain and suffering than anyone should experience. And yet he remains a kind, generous and gentle soul with unique insights into the human condition. Hugh's story is a remarkable place to start for episode 1 of the 3rd series of Real Risk. Watch the full video episode HERECheck out his book 'Minefields'
To finish the series, the frightening account of the shark attack that so nearly cost Chris Blowes his life. The attack ended with his two mates watching the shark swimming off with their friend's leg in its mouth, towing his surfboard by the leg rope behind it. That imagery is so much worse than anything that Hollywood could dream up.Over the next few hours Chris came as close to dying as one can. Another inexplicable survival story in the vein of last week's episode with diver Chris Lemons. But Chris Blowes survived to marry his girlfriend, have a child, return to work and perhaps most courageously, return to surfing. It is yet another story of courage, inspiration and humility that makes Chris a worthy final guest for the series. I also spoke with Dr Kylie Stanton who coordinated the medical retrieval from the SA Ambulance Emergency Operations Centre. Her medical insights into Chris's survival are equally fascinating. Enjoy!Edit-the quote attributed to Chloe at the end of the podcast was actually stated by Dr Michelle Cresp.Chris Blowes will release his book "Caught Inside" this December 2020. 
In this second episode of Life on a Line, we rejoin Chris Lemons on the seabed in the North Sea. His umbilical is severed, and he has switched on his bailout gas with the knowledge that in 8 minutes his gas supply will be exhausted and he will die...Make sure you listen to the previous episode first!
The world of saturation diving is high tech, complex and fascinating. The physics and physiology present unbreakable rules that must be followed to remain safe. The  risks of decompression sickness, High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS), oxygen toxicity and inert gas narcosis are carefully managed. But perhaps the hardest part; living in the confines of the hyperbaric quarters for 28 days with no possibility of early release. You have to be the right kind of person.In 2012, Chris Lemons was an experienced commercial diver, but relatively new to sat diving. "Sat" is the pinnacle of the job, good pay, exciting work and greatly respected. And he loves it. So when a highly improbable sequence of events occurred on board the ship nearly 100m above him in the middle of the North Sea late one night, he managed the chain of event which followed with a measured calm born of inner strength and years of training. He stayed calm right up until the moment his life support umbilical snapped...he then knew that in approximately 8 minutes his breathing gas would run out and he would die.Documentary Last Breath     Chris Lemons website
Paddling onto a 70 foot wave must make every nerve in your brain scream STOP! The deafening roar, the wedge like tons of water curling over then hurling you down towards the reef visible beneath the shallows at the bottom of the drop. The explosion occurring all around as you reach an impossible speed if you are still standing at the base of the beast, as you then desperately try to cut across the face to escape the monster that seeks to crush you. Frankly it is inconceivable that anyone has such courage. And wave names like Jaws and Killer do nothing to misconstrue or deceive. In what has been the domain of male big wave legends like Laird Hamilton and Eddie Aikau, there is a group of determined female athletes challenging the status quo. And from some of the venom and vitriol I read on social media a lot of the surfing establishment is not happy. But these woman are a force that cannot be ignored. Check out names like Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly and Aussie Felicity Palmateer. But today I talk to the surfer of the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman, Brazilian born Nazare resident Maya Gabeira. Check out the footage of the wave here and Maya's website here 
Alex Honnold is cool. Beyond cool actually. His skill and calm transcend what most of us can conceive is possible. And yet when you chat with him he is immediately likeable and you can imagine hanging out. His enthusiasm makes you want to go climbing with him although in my case that would be very embarrassing. I do suspect he'd help you maximise your potential. After all, he guided his own mum to the top of El Cap in her 60s!I can't remember enjoying talking to someone more than I did Alex. And when I somewhat clumsily asked him if Autism Spectrum Disorder was the key to his fearless attacks on the big walls, he seemed as interested in the possibility as I was. Enjoy the conversation and see what conclusions we came to.
Three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, three weeks without food. We all know the saying, but some people just refuse to acknowledge these kinds of rules. James Scott, a young medical student was such a guy. He left Australia for an adventure in Nepal, a clinical placement which would set him up for his return to start a career in surgery back home. But a poorly judged trek at the beginning of the Himalayan winter left him trapped without food, starving to death in a rock shelter in sub zero conditions. 43 days later, as close to death as you ever want to come, he was found thanks to a relentless search by his sister Joanne.It is an extraordinary story of courage, stubbornness and the ingrained will to live.
The documentary 'Free Solo" based around the rope-less ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park by Alex Honnold had us all on the edge of our seats. I found myself holding my breath, at times barely able to look at the screen even though I knew Alex would ultimately succeed. To capture the drama of that quest took both great technical and dramatic skill; the perfect marriage of talents for two film makers - Jimmy Chin (the mountaineer and director) and his wife 'Chai' Vasarhelyi (director and in Jimmy's words, the one who brings great restraint to the film to allow the natural drama to play out).The film received an Academy Award and a BAFTA. But it took years in the mountains perfecting his crafts before Jimmy reached these dizzying heights. His honest account of life before the making of Free Solo is equally intriguing. Make sure you check out 'Meru" as well, which is Jimmy and Chai's first climbing documentary!
When your father is Jack Brabham a three times Formula 1 World Champion, it seems likely that motorsport will be in your blood. And as it turned out all three of Jack's sons took to the track like the proverbial ducks to water. David Brabham never intended to race cars, he was content driving the farm ute at breakneck speeds sideways around the local dirt roads. But when he casually entered a gokart race with a friend one day, he discovered a natural aptitude and competitive spirit that would stand him in good stead for many years. From karting, to sedans, various open wheelers, sports cars and even F1, he became a champion in his own right. And in this conversation, he describes that amazing journey whilst at times living in the shadow of his legendary father, and the family name that still means so much to all Australians.Oh and if you fancy a nice ride for yourself, check out the Brabham BT62!
In this episode I talk with two good friends, cave divers Brian Kakuk and Dr Kenny Broad. Brian runs Bahamas Underground which offers guided diving to suitably qualified cave divers in the exquisite flooded caves on Abaco Island. But the beautiful crystal formations in the gin clear tunnels are only half the story. Amazing geology, bizarre life forms, ancient fossils and even human remains make this a natural laboratory for scientists. Scientists like anthropologist Kenny Broad, another expert cave diver, regularly dive with Brian to help unlock the secrets of these caves.  The guys share stories of early dives, near misses, friends lost; but mostly their passion for exploration and discovery in what can be a most unforgiving (The Crystal Caves of Abaco)     
At the age of 16, I wasn't thinking about achieving something incredible. My thoughts were firmly on the pursuit of the opposite sex, of SCUBA diving and the freedom of a driver's licence! Lucky for the human race some youngsters have a loftier agenda. Jessica Watson was one such girl, who with the influence of her family's love of adventure, dreamt of testing herself on the open ocean in a small boat. At the age of 16, she finally made that dream a reality when she became the youngest person to ever circumnavigate alone and unassisted. Her quest was never easy, was always risky, and was a magnet for criticism from nay sayers who felt it was nigh on irresponsible for her adult mentors to allow the voyage, let alone encourage it. Yet she emerged stronger, more confident and a symbol of the capacity of the youngest generation to achieve their goals. With people like Jess around, I can't help thinking the planet is in safe hands.Pick up a copy of her books "True Spirit" and "Indigo Blue" and learn more about Jess HERE
Almost every kid with a few dollars to scrape together has owned a skateboard of some kind, and pretty soon after has ridden it down a hill near their house. But a few take it to the next level, using gravity to pull them down the steepest roads at speeds that defy belief. Just inches above the tarmac, it is hard to imagine what riding at speeds of over 100kph must feel like. Clad in full leathers and a full face helmet, they race to be World Champion in a sport many people have never even heard of.Kevin Reimer in California is one of the true champions of the discipline, and has made a career out of not only racing but designing and manufacturing skate boards and trucks. Check out the clips below and listen to see what it feels like to fly down a hill at breakneck speed.
Bill is a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland. He is widely published in the literature and has authored a book called The Social Leap, an insight into how evolution has influenced our current thinking and behaviour. "Life on the sprawling grasslands precipitated a shift from individualistic ways of living to more cooperative ways. This was the birth of what you might call “social intelligence,” and it changed the way our minds work forever." It's an amazing read. But Bill also works with Special Forces soldiers helping them manage their perception of danger and risk, and it is this context that I was introduced to him. A risk taker himself, Bill enjoys climbing and "skiing fast" although like most adventurers he believes his activities are safe and very limited compared to other extreme athletes. Bill has written over 100 peer reviewed articles, has featured in the New York Times, USA Today and The Economist, a TED speaker and a regular podcast (check out The Joe Rogan Experience and London Reel) and interview guest. His insights into our need for risk taking are fascinating!
Yep you read that right, James Cameron himself joins me to wrap up twelve great episodes with gripping tales of exploring what lies in the deepest parts of the ocean. From filming historic shipwrecks like the German battleship Bismarck (16,000 feet deep) and Titanic (12,500 feet deep), to the very bottom of the world at nearly 36,000 feet in the Mariana Trench! It goes without saying that James Cameron is a good story teller and I was on the edge of my seat for every minute of this interview. An incredibly generous guy, he gave me over an hour of his time and I felt like we could have chatted about diving for another hour at least. But I was scared of his PA so I thought I better wrap it up :-).The episode is dedicated to a mutual friend, Andrew Wight. Andrew was an Australian cave diver who who got his break in documentary film making when the cave his team was exploring on the Nullarbor Plain in Australia collapsed, trapping many of them underground. He was a great Aussie explorer and film maker and his story inspired the James Cameron feature film Sanctum. Sadly Andrew died in a helicopter crash whilst working on Cameron's Deep Sea Challenge project.Finally a shout out to the dive companies who support my projects with their great equipment, awesome after sales service and even sometimes some good prices! Shearwater Research, O'Three Drysuits, Seacraft Scooters, KISS Rebreathers, ISC Megalodon, and Bremont watches (I'm an ambassador).See you soon for Season 2!
There is no way short of paying for a seat on Elon Musk's Space X rocket of hitting 5 Gs, unless you get behind the wheel of a top fuel drag racer. With engines that develop over 10,000 horse power, you'll be doing well over 300 mph in less than 4 seconds and then it's time to deploy your 'shutes and hit the brakes, hoping like hell everything holds together. Sometimes the engine will simply explode and the nitromethane fuel creates a fireball that accompanies you down the track. It's not a sport for the faint hearted.For self confessed adrenaline junkie ("I just like going fast!") Ashley Sanford, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. And in a traditionally male dominated sport, her and other women are truly making their mark in this multi-million dollar sport. Hang on and enjoy the ride because Ashley has almost as much energy as those cars! Popular Mechanics and Ashley's debut in Top FuelContact me on or
Peter Helliar is a much loved son of Australian television and comedy. He acts, performs, writes, directs and more. He doesn't really come across as your outdoors adventure type, in fact in his own words he's "a bit risk averse". So when I was looking for someone a little different to talk with about risk taking, he was the first guy I called. In fact BASE jumper Sean Chuma (EP 4) gave me the idea when he told me the thing he fears most is public speaking. In fact many people are less scared of death than giving that best man's speech! Who better than a stand up comic to help us face our most primal fear?Contact me on or
When you experience the worst day of your life, it is hard to look beyond it and see the positives. That's unless you are someone remarkable like Heath Jamieson, a former Australian commando sniper who was shot through the neck in 2011, in Afghanistan. Following years of rehab for a high spinal and traumatic brain injury, Heath went on to become a helicopter training pilot and a polar guide. He now inspires people young and old not to dwell on what irks or ails them, but to see the upside in everything that happens...good or bad.Contact me on or
When I fly in a plane across a vast expanse of ocean, I often wonder what it would feel like to be out there alone, just you, a boat, and the elements. How would I fare facing massive storm pushed waves in the dark of night, alone and frightened as the ocean tried to consume my tiny vessel? What would I learn of myself day after day as I clear my mind of the worldly worries that consume us all, to focus on the cycle of "eat, sleep, sail".Lisa Blair can give us the answers. She speaks of the benefits of giving one's self a seemingly impossible task, coming close to failure and then making one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Lisa speaks bravely of minimising risk, but then when everything still fails, of how she found resolve and strength that I suspect even she didn't realise she possessed. She is an extraordinary example of "what nearly kills you, makes you stronger."*Apologies to all sailors for calling a shroud a halyard and goodness knows what else. I prefer motor boats! me on or
There's an easy way, and there's a hard way of doing things and Tim Jarvis seems to prefer the latter. Tim's exploits in the polar regions have become almost as legendary as the explorers of the heroic period, who's fascinating but often deadly journeys he has recreated right down to the hobnail boots and reindeer skin sleeping bags. Tim Jarvis offers profound insights into the benefits of risk taking and doing hard things as he fights overwhelming obstacles that would have earned the respect of his heroes Mawson and Shackleton. The apocryphal words of Shackleton's advertisement seem just as apt for the teams he pulled together to embark on these quests..."Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success" me on or
Growing up in an army family in Australia, Dan Pronk moved around a lot and never seemed to make close friends. But he found his tribe in sports, excelling in triathlon and for a while it promised a career. But when that fell through, and having studied exercise science, Dan decided to become a doctor. And what better way to fund his studies than to commit a few years to the army. With a brother in the Special Air Service Regiment, he met some of the "operators" at a BBQ one day, and in that moment he saw his a doctor embedded in Australia's most elite fighting force. Thus began a journey that would test him beyond what he thought was possible and help him become in his own words, "the best version of himself". I felt very privileged to hear his story.EDIT Dan asked me to point out an error at 45:30 when he describes the loss of life in a helo crash on June 21st 2010. He referred to it happening 10 days ago rather than 10 years ago. We acknowledge the loss of Scott Palmer, Ben Chuck and Tim Alpin.Contact me on or
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