Sean Rice and Angie Mouden Get 2017 Started With Wins At Canary Islands AOS

Sean Rice got his 2017 surfski season started with a win in the Canary Islands this weekend at the Atlantic Ocean Surfski race.


Rice came in with a time of 2:37.23 to earn the top spot on the day. Walter Bouz'an Sanch'ez followed in second 3.20 behind Rice and Esteban Medina Ojeda finished strong in third another 32 seconds off the pace.

World Surfski Series contender and full-time Firefighter Angie Mouden took top honors for the women with a time of 3:08.48 with 2016 Euro Challenge winner Amaia Osaba Olaberri and Sara Rafael in at 4.16 and 5.09 back respectively.

Angie Mouden

Mouden, has come off a stellar 2016, with wins at the Dutch Coast Race and the Nelo Summer Challenge, is making a strong statement that she is the top contender among elite women.

The AOS is a three stage race covering a total of 40 km. All three stages are covered on the same day.

Updated Epic Surfski Speed Comparison with Greg Barton


Epic Surfski Speed Comparison with Greg Barton

(Updated with V8 Pro & V12 2G)

                                    By: Chris Laughlin


Paddlers frequently ask how much faster they can expect to be in one surfski versus a different model.  For example: “How much faster will I be if I move from the V10 Sport to the V10?”

Numbers relating to boat speed and time trials are very subjective and vary from paddler to paddler.  Personal fitness, technique, and comfort can all play a role in whether one boat is better than another for a specific individual.

However, all things being equal, it is fun and informative to gauge the different levels of performance that are possible throughout different kayak models.  

New V12

We don’t have Epic’s drag calculations to give precise answers on their surfski speeds.  But we have the next best thing, Greg Barton’s analysis of his own speed expectations for his surfskis.  This is a non-scientific analysis, based solely on Greg’s experience in the boats.

The following times are what Greg Barton, paddling the stated Epic surfski models, would expect to record in a 10K flatwater time-trial.  The second set of times reflect Greg’s best estimate as to what an intermediate level paddler could expect on the same course.

{Note: all surfskis mentioned reflect Epic’s most current designs for each model}



V6: 46:40

V7: 46:10

V8: 45:50

V8 Pro: 45:15

V10 Sport 2G: 44:40

V10 2G: 43:58

V10L 2G: 43:48

V12 2G: 43:35

Legacy ICF: 43:30

V14: 43:20

Intermediate Level Paddler:

V6:  53:50

V7: 53:25

V8:  53:10

V8 Pro: 52:25

V10 Sport 2G:  51:55

V10 2G:  51:40

V10L 2G: 51:40

V12 2G: 51:45

V14: 52:00

Legacy ICF:  52:40 (slower in Legacy due to stability issues)

V8 Pro


Some thoughts from Greg:

It’s important to remember that as your conditioning/technique/speed increase, you’ll see more advantage to using a faster boat.

Even though the hull speed of the Legacy is faster, most people will still be faster in a V10/V12/V14 because the increased stability will allow them to effectively apply power.

The Legacy will also depend on paddler weight.  My weight is 175 lbs.  Paddlers over 200 lbs. (even good ones with strong stability skills) will be faster in a V10/V12/V14 than a Legacy.  The longer length of a ski more easily supports the weight of a heavier paddler.  Those under 150 lbs. and with good stability skills will find more advantage in the Legacy over the skis.

As soon as the conditions pick up, even 6”-12” chop, the skis have a tremendous advantage over a Legacy K1.

At normal touring intensities, around 4 mph, the V6 and V8 are nearly the same speed.

For more info on Epic surfskis visit:


Burn opens her FNB Surfski Series account in tricky conditions

Michelle Burns

Michelle Burns

A northerly wind on Friday night brought with it contrasting conditions to the FNB Surfski Series' previous three races, however it was a welcome change for many as Michelle Burn took advantage of the bigger conditions to open up her account at the Thule Surfski Challenge.

With the series having been dominated by benign conditions in the opening three weeks paddlers were made to start at the backline for safety purposes which meant an even starting point for all as Fenn Kayaks' Burn licked her lips at the challenging conditions.

"I much prefer bigger surf and being able to get good runs," Burn mentioned.

"It was a really welcome change for me because I am using the FNB Surfski Series to just get my fitness up and the previous weeks have been tough as I am not as strong as the other girls!

"To get a win is really good as I am still working my way back into paddling and it is satisfying to see that I can keep progressing each week."

The women's series is wide open with Bridgitte Hartley missing Friday's hit-out meaning that Euro Steel/Carbonology Sports' Hayley Nixon's second place finish has closed the gap to Hartley at the top slightly.

Young Euro Steel star Kyeta Purchase finished in third again in the women's race.

Dominant Mcgregor

The men's race was another one horse show as Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks' Hank McGregor once again showed his class in the varied conditions, to take his third win of the series and assert his dominance over the rest of the men's field.

"The backline start is always unique but it was great having some different conditions this week as opposed to the previous three.

"I managed to get myself a good lead on the first lap and then I just made sure that I consolidated that lead into the second lap and right to the finish.

"I'm happy with a third win in the series and I always find the FNB Surfski Series is the perfect way to start the weekend," a satisfied McGregor mentioned.

The men's podium was finished off by SMG/Epic Kayaks' Matt Bouman in second and the come-back-kid Grant van der Walt in third ahead of Wade Kriege.

Friday saw another strong performance from the impressive couple of Bay Union/Fenn Kayaks' Luke Nisbet and Euro Steel/Fenn Kayak's Jenna Ward as they were not only the first mixed double across the line but also the first double to finish the long course.

The pair of Nisbet and Ward finished just ahead of Tyron Maher and Lee McGregor in second the form pair of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe in third.

The short course once again proved to be a hit with paddlers who did not want to take on the 8km longer version and it was grand master Bruce Jackson who was the strongest paddler just ahead of Zoog and Ty Haynes in second and Sebastian Garreau in third.

The stand-up paddleboarding division saw a new winner on Friday as Shayne Chipps proved to be too strong for the rest of the field whilst Brandon Read and Jon Ivins finished second and third respectively.

The Euro Steel Surfski Challenge, Race Five of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 3 February at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


LONG COURSE 1.Hank McGregor 32:18 2.Matt Bouman 32:52 3.Grant van der Walt 33:32 4.Wade Krieger 34:13 5.Gene Prato 34:22 6.Steve Woods 34:32 7.Oliver Burn 36:27 8.Hamish Lovemore 36:52 9.Brett Hadiaris 37:24 10.Jordon Clauson 37:31

Women 1.Michelle Burn 39:14 2.Hayley Nixon 39:39 3.Kyeta Purchase 42:43 4.Donna Tutton 43:48 5.Pippa McGregor 50:15

Men Doubles 1.Tyron Maher/Lee McGregor 34:33 2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 35:07 3.Bailey De Fondaumiere/Alex Masina 35:51

Women Doubles 1.Debbie Gillett/Lyn Bennett 45:54 2.Sharon Armstrong/Carly Davidson 47:51 3.Louisa van Staden/Wilma Deyzel 49:05

Mixed Doubles 1.Luke Nisbet/Jenna Ward 34:20 2.Stuart Lang/Lesley Wilson-Jones 37:13 3.Raquel Arcediano/Gareth Miles 40:24

Junior Boys 1.Hamish Lovemore 36:52 2.Emanuel Zaloumis 41:12 3.Brendon Delport 42:58

SHORT COURSE 1.Bruce Jackson 20:58 2.Sebastian Garreau 23:45 3.Dave Rees 24:23 4.Jeffrey Maingard 25:23 5.James Matthews 25:41

Doubles 1.Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 21:11 2.Scott Sowman/Ryan Engel 24:30 3.Byron Volek/Bridgitte Parker 25:45

SUP 1.Shayne Chipps 37:55 2.Brandon Read 38:13 3.Jon Ivins 42:39


Maiden wins for Bouman and Nixon at 2017 FNB Surfski Series


Having played runners-up in the opening two encounters of the series, Matt Bouman and Hayley Nixon shrugged off the brides maids tag to take their first wins respectively at the Daikin Surfski Challenge, Race Three of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday evening.

Despite the field being slightly depleted with paddlers opting to travel to Underberg early for the N3TC Drak Challenge starting on Saturday, SMG/Epic Kayaks' Matt Bouman was surprised by the conditions that were served up to the competitors.

"It was another really cool paddle," the experienced Bouman said. "The wind was a bit surprising as we were expecting a south-easter which would have been a bit miserable but we got a pumping south-wester which gave us nice gentle bumps all the way to North Beach."

The dice at the front of the race was between Bouman and Wade Krieger, a battle that has played out often in the surf in and around Durban.

"The race was fun as always, Wade is paddling well and for a while I didn't think that I was going to drop him.

"It's an honest, hard race every Friday with nowhere to hide and I am grateful that I was able to come out on top," added Bouman.

Having finished second in the opening two races of the series to Bridgitte Hartley, Euro Steel/Carbonology Sports' Hayley Nixon is in for a bumper weekend of racing starting with an impressive win at the FNB Surfski Series.

"I am glad that I was able to come down and do the race before leaving for the Drak Challenge tomorrow," she mentioned. "The south-wester meant that we had a few more bumps and runs to try and catch on the way to the can at North Beach.

"There was a bit of a head wind coming back which forced you to work hard."


Nixon was the first to admit that the field was not as strong as previous weeks but she knew that it was important to keep her wits about her with the likes of Michelle Burn chasing her the whole way.

"It was a bit of a depleted field with some of the girls making the trip up to Underberg early but with the likes of Michelle Burn on the start line you can never be complacent.

"I was happy that I had a great race and with this being my third week back in training things are starting to feel better and I feel a bit more connected to the boat," Nixon added.

Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe made it three wins from three in the doubles category on Friday while Sharon Armstrong and Jonty Dobrowsky taking the mixed doubles honours.

In the short course it was Matthew Mouron who took his third in a row with Keaton Riddle and Luke Criticos in third.

Nick Park-Ross took his third win in the SUP category with Danica Bartho taking the win in the ladies SUP race.

The Thule Surfski Challenge, Race Four of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 20 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


LONG COURSE 1.Matt Bouman 32.35 2.Wade Krieger 33.25 3.Gene Prato 34.19 4.Ian Greig 35.26 5.Lee McGregor 35.27 6.Paul Rabinowitz 36.08 7.Oliver Burn 36.18 8.Brett Hadiaris 36.54 9.Irvin Dixon 36.54 10.Gavin Seare 37.01

Women 1.Hayley Nixon 35.44 2.Michelle Burn 36.55 3.Sabina Lawrie 40.39

Doubles 1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 32:36 2.Shaun Dias/Matthew Elliott 34.19 3.Shaun Burgin/Lee Muir 34.24 4.Neil Evans/Gustav Kriese 35.12 5.Calvin Mckie/Byron Mckie 35.23

Mixed Doubles 1.Sharon Armstrong/Jonty Dobrowsky 40.01 2.Thando Thusi/Lauren Coleby 40.33 3.Amanda Seidler/Dean Maclean 44.08

Junior Boys 1.Brendon Delport 38.56

Junior Girls 1.Sabina Lawrie

SHORT COURSE 1.Matthew Mouron 19.21 2.Keaton Riddle 19.44 3.Luke Criticos 19.48

Doubles 1.Vandile/Mhlengi Gwala 18.24 2.Scott Sowman/Ryan Engel 18.37 3.Zoog Haynes/Ty Haynes 19.41

SUP Men 1.Nick Park-Ross 25.12 2.Daryl Bartho 36.13 3.Brandon Read 26.21

Women 1.Danica Bartho 29.20 2.Shannon Clark 29.53 3.Lande Williamson 30.45




Déjà vu at Race 2 of FNB Surfski Series

Typical summer rainfall could not dampen the spirits of one of the largest fields the iconic FNB Surfski Series has seen on Friday evening, as well over 300 paddlers took on either the long course, short course or stand-up paddle boarding race with Race 1 winners Hank McGregor and Bridgitte Hartley making it two wins from two at the sharp end of the field at Race two’s Funky Pants Surfski Challenge.

McGregor, who has dominated the Marine SLC based series for a number of years, showed his class on Friday as he powered out of the blocks in flat conditions and opened up a significant advantage early in the race, and in typical McGregor fashion, he didn’t let up through the entire eight kilometres.

“I had a fantastic race in conditions that were pretty similar to last week,” the Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks ace mentioned.

“It was an incredible turn out with over 340 paddlers; I think that everyone who owns a surfski in Durban was on the beach this evening!

“The race was close for the first kilometre but I managed to break the shackles and shrug off Mattthew Bouman, Grant van der Walt, Wade Krieger and the youngster Hamish Lovemore.

Large field

In an ominous sign for the rest of the field McGregor feels that he is in great form at the moment which he attributes to factors outside of his training regime and race tactics.

“I feel that I am getting stronger and stronger every time I paddle which I think has a lot to do with my lifestyle and the frame of mind that I am in at the moment.

“With the N3TC Drak Challenge coming up next week my focus will shift to river marathon racing but I am looking forward to the challenge of racing some of the best marathon paddlers in the world,” a relaxed McGregor added.

The podium was rounded out my Matthew Bouman in second and it was Wade Krieger who managed to win the sprint finish for third with Grant van der Walt having to settle for fourth and the junior Hamish Lovemore coming home in an impressive fifth.

Lovemore’s impressive result would suggest that the Hilton College pupil will be one of the paddlers to look out for at Race 10 of the series, the Varsity College Surfski Challenge and Varsity College SA Schools Championships.

The women’s race was not quite a repeat of Race 1 although the result was the same. Olympic sprint ace Bridgitte Hartley was unstoppable in the flat conditions as she powered home to take the women’s race honours by 50 seconds over the fancied Hayley Nixon.

“I think I might have started a bit too hard and the flat conditions did make the race a bit more difficult but I enjoyed the grind,” the Euro Steel star mentioned.

“With less wind and less runs to work with it was quite a slog but luckily for me I managed to find my rhythm on the second lap which helped me maintain that lead to the end.”

In a change from the opening race of the series, Michelle Burn pipped Kyeta Purchase to the third step of the podium in a sprint finish while Kerry Segal finished the race in fifth.

The doubles race saw the duo of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe getting their first win of the series after they finished second at the first race of the series. They were closely followed by the impressive mixed pair of Jenna Ward and Luke Nisbet.

Shaun Dias and Matt Collins were the third double across the line in tenth place overall.

The short course was an interesting tussle as the pair of Justin and Stefan Swart went one better than last week as they took the overall win ahead of Andrew and Sarah Button in second and Emilio and Dominic Chiccaro in third.

Matthew Maroun was once again the first single ski home however he couldn’t replicate his overall win from race one and finished the 4km course in fourth place overall.

Nick Park-Ross continued his good form winning the stand-up paddle board category for the second week in a row with Brandon Read taking second place once again, however the change came in third where Matthew Swemmer took the final podium step – bettering his fourth from race one.

The Daikin Surfski Challenge, Race Three of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 20 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


1.Hank McGregor 30:28
2.Matt Bouman 32:06
3.Wade Krieger 32:33
4.Grant van der Walt 32:33
5.Hamish Lovemore 32:36
6.Steve Woods 33:36
7.Clinton Cook 33:37
8.Gene Prato 33:41
9.Bailey de Fondaumiere 33:45
10.Tyron Maher 34:25

1.Bridgitte Hartley 35:49
2.Hayley Nixon 36:39
3.Michelle Burn 38:02
4.Kyeta Purchase 38:03
5.Kerry Segal 38:11

1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 32:06
2.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 32:31
3.Shaun Dias/Matt Collins 33:40

Mixed Doubles
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 32:31
2.Sabina Lawrie/Callam Davis 35:59

Junior Boys
1.Hamish Lovemore 32:36
2.Hamish Mackenzie 36:52
3.Brendon Delport 37:26

Junior Girls
1.Christie Mackenzie 41:17

1.Matthew Mouran 20:26
2.Declan Bradfield 21:00
3.Jasper Gaylard 21:40
4.Carmel Bilson 21:43
5.Mhlengi Gwala 21:45

1.Justin Swart/Stefan Swart 19:21
2.Andrew Button/Sarah Button 19:33
3.Emilio Chiccaro/Dominic Chiccaro 20:14
4.Shaine Mcalister/Laura Mcalister 20:41
5.Jason Ward/Nigel Ward 21:05

1.Nick Park-Ross 25:02
2.Brandon Read 25:48
3.Matthew Swemmer 26:08
4.Shayne Chipps 26:41
5.Jon Ivins 27:21

1.Danica Bartho 27:55
2.Jackie de Billot 27:56
3.Charlotte Atherton 27:58
4.Lande Williamson 28:58
5.Karisa Grace 31:54

g'power Galaxy II---Zero to Hero

Unwrapping the g’power Galaxy II revealed an immaculate finish and seamless one-piece shaft-blade connection.


I couldn’t wait to get it out on the water for a try.  

I launched from my usual spot and started upriver. Straight away, something wasn’t right. My grip felt loose and awkward. My catch splashed and ploinked with every second or third stroke.  The shaft felt entirely too uncompromising.

Being aware of the need for an adjustment period, I trudged forward.  I continued on for another two sessions, but it didn’t change.  After three sessions, the paddle just did not feel “right”. I set it aside with no intentions of returning.


Flash forward about eight months.  I decided to do some head to head comparisons of the Epic Mid Wing, Gara GP2, Jantex Gamma Rio and the g’power Galaxy 2.  

I checked the paddles against each other based on look, feel, short burst speed (200 meters) and longer bursts at 1 km and 5 km distances.  All on flat water without current or wind.

To my surprise, I found that my fastest times were clocked on the g’power. In a stark departure from my initial impression, the overall feel of the paddle felt as good or better in direct comparison with the others.

I decided to give the g’power another chance.  I started using it on my daily paddles and set myself to working through some of the original issues I had experienced.

During this second go 'round I found some interesting adjustments began to take place with my stroke that allowed me to view the g’power in an entirely new light and with a newfound appreciation.

Shorter Blade Area


  • The blade is a bit shorter and wider.  Thereby forcing a deeper insertion to get a full catch from the blade. This is an area where I have traditionally struggled, as I have a habit of not "spearing" the catch.  So the first adjustment I made was to set the GoPro and begin working with a more exaggerated catch.                      


  • It also features a fair amount of twist in the blade, which can assist with a good exit and less cavitation at the catch.

Stiffness---I have been using the Galaxy II in soft construction and in comparison with Jantex, it isn’t as yielding.  Of the paddles tested, I would place it near the Epic in terms of rigidity, with the Gara having the least flex and the Jantex the most.  

What I have found is that relaxing my grip until the moment I go into my catch and pull phase mitigates the lack of flex.  In doing this, it has had the effect of giving my forearm more of a rest and creating a more "connected" and focused feel when in the power phase.  Essentially creating more discrepancy between rest and exertion. The adjustment has been helpful during longer races, where my forearm has at times become overly taxed. To compensate for this rigidity, during the power phase, I try to work with the paddle, exerting pressure uniformly.  

Blade--- The initial feedback I received on my catch was a near constant ploinking splash.  However, I found that the overall grip of the blade on the water was strong and solid.  So I started adjusting my setup to create a more vertical insertion point with the proper angle. As I continued down this path I found that I could eliminate the splash and cavitation by improving my setup and catch.  The blade DEMANDS to be entered into the water at the right angle. My previous paddle had a much more forgiving catch---which was great but didn’t really force my effort to improve it.  The technical entry requires a high-level stroke or will kick it back to you.   


Working with the design

The g’power essentially helped improve my stroke once I was able to stop fighting against it and begin working with the design.  Using it has pointed out some inherent flaws in my technique and once I opened myself to it, was able to begin working on my weak links.  The lesson I've taken away from this experience has been to be a bit more open to user error when trying out new products.  It's easy to dismiss a product based on a few initial impressions.  It's far more difficult to see your own flaws.

Early surprise as Hartley takes first win at FNB Surfski Series

With hundreds of excited paddlers lining the Addington Beach for the first race of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series on Friday, the race produced a big surprise as former Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley beat off the tough ladies competition to claim a maiden win at race one while stalwart Hank McGregor took the honours in the men’s race.

Paddlers were greeted to some tame conditions as long course, short course and stand-up paddle boarders took some time to work out the rust and Christmas pudding on Friday, however the racing at the sharp end of the field was as tough as ever with paddlers jostling for an early advantage.

Hartley and race favourite/Euro Steel teammate Hayley Nixon spent a lot of the race together, however when the paddlers turned into the wind for the final time Hartley came into her own and managed to get ahead all the way to the finish line.

Hartley, with sprint background, was able to pull ahead against the wind in the final kilometers.


“Tonight was really fun and I was really excited to race with so many other paddlers and against some strong ladies,” Hartley mentioned.

“I really didn’t know what to expect so I was fairly cautious at the start of the race but I managed to catch Hayley just before the first buoy.”

Hartley was going to have her work cut out for her against an experienced paddler like Nixon but she believed that if she turned for home with Nixon she had a chance of winning.

“I tried to interval as much as I could into the wind and we had so much fun trying to catch some runs with the wind!

“It was so much fun and I am really excited that I managed to get a win at the first race of the series,” she added.

The ladies field was rounded out by Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Hayley Nixon in second, who finished 44 seconds behind Hartley, and young Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ star Kyeta Purchase, who came home in third a further two minutes behind Nixon.
Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor managed to pick up where he left off in 2016 with another win at the FNB Surfski Challenge as he eyes an impressive eighth FNB Surfski Series title. McGregor was in a class of his own as he dominated the entire field to win the race by 38 seconds over long-time rival Matt Bouman with Wade Krieger coming home in third.

Clinton Cook and Hamish Lovemore finished second overall in the race just behind McGregor and managed to just pip the pair of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe to the win.

Emanuel Zaloumis was the best placed junior when he finished tenth overall just two seconds ahead of Hamish Mackenzie with Sabine Lawrie being the best placed junior girl.

The short course was dominated by Matthew Maroun who took the overall honours over Shane Maguire in second and Jasper Gaylard in third.

The SUP category was a tough race with Nick Park-Ross taking the race one honours ahead of Brandon Read in second and Robbie de Billot in third. The ladies category was won by Charlotte Anderson ahead of Lande Williamson and Danica Bartho in second and third respectively.

The The Funky Pants Surfski Challenge, Race Two of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 13 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.


1.Hank McGregor 32:46
2.Matt Bouman 33:14
3.Wade Krieger 34:20
4.Grant van der Walt 34:21
5.Bailey de Fondaumiere 35:32
6.Gene Prato 35:37
7.Lee McGregor 35:39
8.Tyron Maher 36:34
9.Oliver Burn 37:22
10.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28

1.Brigitte Hartley 36:50
2.Hayley Nixon 37:34
3.Kyeta Purchase 39:35

1.Clinton Cook/Hamish Lovemore 32:58
2.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 33:09
3.Darly Bartho/Clinton Pretorius 34:27

Mixed Double
1.Jenna Ward/Luke Nisbet 34:41

Junior Boys
1.Emanuel Zaloumis 37:28
2.Hamish Mackenzie 37:30
3.Brendon Delport 39:56

Junior Girls
1.Sabina Lawrie 42:44
1.Matthew Maroun 20:59
2.Shane Maguire 22:17
3.Jasper Gaylard 23:00

1.Justin Swart/Stefan Swart 21:21
2.Mark Taylor/Richard Taylor 22:09
3.Jason Ward/Nigel Ward 22:12

1.Nick Park-Ross 26:26
2.Brandon Read 26:58
3.Robbie de Billot 27:42

1.Charlotte Anderson 30:19
2.Lande Williamson 30:41
3.Danica Bartho 32:26

2016---What A Year!

2016 is now in the books and paddlers have had a lot to celebrate this past year.

In racing:

The games of the 31st Olympiad brought an orgy of paddlesports for a few ephemeral days of summer.

Marcus Walz (ESP) brought home gold in the 1000 meter with Danuta Kozak (HUN) snatching gold in the women’s.


Liam Heath (GBR) kept the British stronghold on the 200 Meter while New Zealand strong woman Lisa Carrington (NZL) continued her dominance on the women’s side of the short game.


Full results here: Rio Olympics


Sadly, we lost one of our own during the games, as canoe slalom athlete and German coach Stefan Henze tragically lost his life in an automobile accident while in Brazil.

Stefan Henze


Also, former Canadian Gold Medalist Adam Van Koeverdan announced his retirement in poignant fashion after Rio.

Adam Van Koeverdan Announces Retirement

Hank McGregor (RSA) stakes his claim as best all around endurance paddler of the year by winning the World Surfski Series overall title with five top race wins: Molokai, The Doctor, The Dragon Run, Pete Marlin and Mauritius.  If those weren’t enough, he then capped it off by winning the grueling end of the year Fenn Cape Point Challenge.

Mcgregor on Top


He also notched a World Marathon Canoe title in K1 and K2 (along with Jasper Mocke) and won the Berg Marathon (his 11th) and Hansa Fish River Marathon.

Mcgregor Leaves No Doubts

Cory Hill

Men’s reigning ICF World Surfski Champion Cory Hill (Aus) brought the fight in 2016, distinguishing himself as a worthy champion with wins at the Nelo Summer Challenge, West Coast Downwinder and the New Zealand King and Queen of the Harbour.  Hill narrowly missed the win at Molokai, after taking a hit on the reef at China Wall in the final few kilometers.

Other notable winners include:

Sean Rice: Dutch Coast Race, The Euro Challenge.

Kenny Rice: The Allwave Cup.

Dawid Mocke: Canadian Championships

Jasper Mocke:  Gorge Downwind Championships


2015 Women’s Champion Teneale Hatton (NZL) also performed admirably with wins at The Gorge and the Dragon Run.  


Hayley Nixon (RSA) wrested the World Surfski Series title away from Hatton with a stunning victory at the Perth Doctor.

Hayley Nixon

The women’s division remained tightly contested right until the season finale, with Nixon, Nicole Russell and Teneale Hatton all going into the final with the title up for grabs.

Nixon Wins Series

Other notable female winners.

Rachel Clarke: King of the Harbour, Maraamu.

Liz Pluimers: Molokai

Angie Mouden: Dutch Coast Race, Nelo Summer Challenge

Nicole Russell: Dragon Run   

Wendy Reyntjes: Mauritius

Carola Cordes: All Wave

Aamai Osabba Olaberri: Euro Challenge


Continued Growth

In grassroots racing, participation continued to grow internationally, with the United States seeing the most dramatic increase.


In North America, several newer races have emerged to augment some of the longer standing queen events.

The Gorge Downwinder, Canadian Championships, Shark Bite Challenge, Chattajack 31, North Shore Cup, among others have seen their stocks rise along with other events such as the MR340, Texas Water Safari, and the Blackburn Challenge.

Chattajack---Getting Crowded

The Chattajack in particular, saw huge growth.  The five year old race increased numbers to 550 available slots---and sold out in 11 hours.


2016 saw several cancellations as well. The U.S. Surfski Championships was nixed as was The Shark Bite Challenge.  The latter, with Jasper Mocke, Sean Rice and many paddlers from all corners of the U.S. appeared to have all the makings of a true showdown; was unfortunately canceled by the Coast Guard, for conditions that would have otherwise been highly coveted. 

The Big River Race in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was also canceled and repurposed as the Big River recovery effort, after heavy rains created devastating flooding in the area.

  Big River Recovery   

In industry news:

Nelo teamed up with Oscar Chaulpsky for a complete redesign of the company’s surfski line. The line was introduced this year with the revamped Nelo 560.  The ski’s feature shorter length than most elite boats with lowered gunwales, light weight as standard, wave deflectors etc.  More recently, Nelo debuted the 510, a plastic rotomolded design.

New V12


Epic retooled their V12 model to shine as a big water elite option with Hank Mcgregor racing the boat to victory at  the Hong Kong Dragon Run.  Also from Epic in 2016, The V8 pro, V8 double and a shorter rotomolded V5 hit the shelves this past year.  Additionally, the V7 saw some slight modifications as well.

Ion Gets a Makeover


Think Kayak were big movers this past year, making sweeping changes throughout their line.  The Generation 3 Uno Max was released with tweaks aimed at increasing stability while simultaneously enhancing surf and big wave performance. The Max also now shares bucket sizing with the Evo and Ion.


Also a low volume version of the Uno Max has been released, aptly named “Uno” with team riders Mackenzie Hynard and Teneale Hatton putting the boats through their paces.

The Ion came back from the drawing board a completely different boat with, among other changes, bucket adjustments, a lower profile, enhanced cutaways and more stability while the Evo received a similar changes sans hull modification.


Vajda:  Released an addition to their elite line up with the “Next” series.



Stellar: Big changes at Stellar as well.  Stellar, already sporting solid depth in their line-up, brought out their latest generation of adjustments. With a hull tweaked for more speed, ergonomic bucket adjustments and tweaks to weight distribution and rudder/cockpit moved aft, Stellar brings dynamic changes to their latest models.

See more details at Wesley Echol’s Surfski Racing website.  

Plastic ski’s continue to proliferate with Epic, Vajda, Nelo, Pyranha and forthcoming Think kayaks all pushing forward with rotomolded, entry level price-point designs.  Bringing accessibility to the masses.


Along with all the excitement and growth from the past year, we bid farewell to those who have left us and wish them everlasting downwind...




OABI: Detroit Beach Party---Ted Burnell


Abandoned factories and homes, broken government, and crime are what most people think of when Detroit is mentioned.   But while I was there, my experience was with beautiful water, a city recovering and paddling stoke in spades.  This positive side of Detroit reaches a zenith each year at the OABI race.   OABI stands for Once Around Belle Island, a beautiful island that sits just in front of the city in the middle of the Detroit River. The locals pronounce the acronym name as “Owabi”.   

Belle Island, the site of the Detroit Grand Prix, was once a city park.  When the City of Detroit went bankrupt, the park fell into disrepair, became crime ridden and covered with trash.   Thanks to local residents efforts and the State of Michigan,  it is once again a great place to visit and paddle from.  One lap around is approximately 6 – 7 miles.

A few months ago, I was in Michigan for a work project. I let Ulli Sherer know I was going to be in the area and would like to get out and paddle with her.  Ulli is the owner of the regional Think Kayaks dealership, Great Lakes Surfski and has been a major supporter and competitor of the OABI.    Not only did Ulli and her awesome husband Myron lend me a boat to paddle, they graciously put me up for the weekend.  We paddled on Lake St. Clair in their hometown of Grosse Point and then out around Belle Island the following day.  I was blown away by how beautiful the water was and how cool the City of Detroit looked from the water.   They insisted that I come back and race the OABI, and based on the hospitality I was shown on my first trip, I readily agreed.  

The second time around I was once again hosted by the incredible Ulli and Myron Sherer and their house full of amazing animals. Staying at their house is more interesting than staying at the Detroit zoo.  They have two dogs, a gecko, two parrots, two parakeets, a tortoise named Hank, and a GIGANTIC rabbit named Bruno.   

Bruno the Alpha Bunny


The day before the race we pre-ran the course while taking careful mental notes on the best lines.  The winds were high and the channel side of the island was quite rough.  This helped cement my decision to forego paddling the Uno Max Ultimate for the race, opting for an Evo II Ultimate instead.  I was being truly spoiled by Ulli and Myron in the selection of boats that I could borrow.   That evening we made our way to the packet pickup and pre-race party at a local bar.  This was a great chance to meet race organizers and racers and get a sense about the excitement of this race.   

Theo and Ulli on Belle Island

Race day commenced with thunderstorms threatening to delay the race start.  The race organizers shrewdly pushed the crowd to get on the water early and start before storms could delay our race.  Unfortunately, the push to get going quickly resulted in the start gun going off for the ski/kayak wave before the starting line buoy was set out.   Which in turn necessitated a few extra minutes of racing my way through paddleboards as I chased after my departing race heat.  In the end, this late start wasn’t a factor for me in finisher ranking, but I hope it’s a detail they get straightened out next year.  After charging upstream through the race field I finally caught up with the front pack.  This pack consisted of Michael Meredith on a ski, John Beausang on OC-1, an OC-2 team and a sea kayaker punching WAY above his weight class.  I caught this group just as it was rounding the upstream end of the island.  The overall leader, Rob Hartman from Holland MI was so far ahead of the pack that I never did see him.  The guy is seriously fast, and he never had even the slightest challenge.  I’m hoping we see him at some of our bigger southern races next year.  

Eventually, I worked my way into second place with about 4 miles left.  We were now on the rough side of the island, and I was enjoying the rough water capabilities of the Evo II when I spotted a weed bed seconds too late and then the subsequent enormous drag nearly slowing me to a stop.   I tried in vain to shake that weed anchor to no avail, and had to dismount and clear the snag.  After clearing a weed ball that looked like Sigmund the Sea Monster off my rudder, I remounted to find I had been caught by Michael Meredith on his Uno Max Ultimate and sea kayaker still charging ahead. As I sought to recover from my remount, a white squall hit us with fierce winds, stinging rain, and near-zero visibility. I knew these severe conditions would give me an edge in the Evo II so I pulled hard trying to regain a lead on Michael.   The squall let up and he was still extremely close, but ‘luckily’ another squall hit.  This squall was accompanied by some giant freighter swells that were, unfortunately, heading in the wrong direction to surf.   At this point in the race, I felt Poseidon himself was trying to sweep us from the water.   I could barely see the end of my boat, and it felt like my eyeballs were getting snapped with a rubber band.   But alas, the squall ended and I had come through it with a decent lead over Michael.  I was mightily impressed though that he kept the Uno Max upright in those conditions.    I own that same boat and am sure I would have swum in that situation.


Michael Merideth

Soon I rounded the bottom of Belle Island and headed upstream.  The sun came out and with the wind now absent, it was a hot flatwater slog to the finish.  As I glided into the beach I attempted to gracefully jump out of the ski to sprint across to the finish line.  This, of course, is not how it went.  My attempt to run almost planted me facedown into the sand because one leg had frozen in deep sleep.  I made a humiliated leg dragging hobble across the line.  This was a repeat of the same scene when I raced OC-1 earlier this year at the Carolina Cup.   But I didn’t care.  I just finished the OABI, the funkiest, hippest, race you’ll ever do.  

Merideth, Hartman and Burnell

The OABI as a race isn’t perfect.  The course direction around the island doesn’t take advantage of predominant or race day wind direction, the race start was a bit of a cluster, and supposedly it’s had its organizational challenges in the past.  But that’s what makes this race great.  It’s just like Detroit itself.  It still has a couple of rough spots, but awesome in a completely unique way.   The race, like the city, is growing and improving.

And that’s the thing about the OABI.  How you perform, or actual race situations are not the story here.  This event is more than that.   Part of what makes this race really special is the oddly well-blended cultures of surf vibe with blue-collar grittiness.  An example is that despite the ferocious wind and rain squalls, every single person finished the course.  That won’t happen anywhere else. Detroit’s iconic symbol is a gigantic fist sculpture and it perfectly sums up the resiliency and toughness of the folks still here.   It’s the fact that this event starts with a pre-pre-party, then a packet pickup pre-party, than pre-race activities, and is followed by a concert, SUP polo and all sorts of other shenanigans.  Also, the race itself is on water so blue, clear and inviting that you have to look up at the iconic Detroit skyline to remind yourself that you’re not in the Caribbean.  

If beautiful water, unique paddling culture,  a stunning city skyline and being part of a great American revival appeals to you, make your way to the OABI next summer.  But if you encounter challenges during the race, just tough it out.  It’s the Detroit way!

Joe Louis Tribute




Hank McGregor Dominates Fenn Cape Point Challenge 2016

The Cape Point Challenge, an iconic race which started in 1980.  It is a 50 km race starting in Scarsborough, around Cape Point to Fish Hoek.

Occasionally, due to weather conditions, the course is reversed.  In order to compete in this race, you must qualify at one of the many qualifying raced during the year.  This ultra ocean marathon always lives up to its grueling reputation, and as the website promises, you:

Paddle along this beautiful  section of coastline starting from Scarborough and into the waters of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, past Olifantsbos,  Platboom, The Cape of Good Hope and the dreaded Southwestern Reefs around Cape Point - the South Western most point of the African Continent . Here rugged rocks and sheer cliffs tower more than 200 metres above the sea, cutting deep into the ocean, providing a spectacular backdrop. Once around the point, you enter the quieter waters of False Bay, (past the old stop Buffels Bay) on to Millers Point.  With any luck, you'll surf the runs home to Fish Hoek on the famous Millers Runs course.

With brutally flat conditions, the race this year took place on Saturday, December 17.  There was a light southeaster blowing, but generally calm conditions with a big slow swell.

In the men’s race, Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke pulled away from the rest of the elite paddlers early and worked together until McGregor put down the hammer and left Mocke before rounding the Point.  By the time he got to the Point, McGregor had 3 km on Mocke, although Mocke managed to close some of that gap throughout the race.  Finally towards the end of the race, wind conditions picked up and McGregor was able to use the runs to his clear advantage.

Shore Break at Race Start


McGregor continued his 2016 domination in all-things-paddle by taking first place.  This is his 7th win of the Cape Point Challenge, and his 5th consecutive win.  Jasper Mocke maintained position in the race to take second place, with Kenny Rice claiming third.  Yannick Laousse and Oscar Chulupsky rounded out the top five, respectively.

Hank McGregor

Kenny Rice

Jasper Mocke

Hayley Nixon, Bianca Beavitt, and Bridgette Hartley

In the women’s race, Hayley Nixon claimed first place.  This comes on the heels of her winning the World Surfski Series for 2016.  Bianca Beavitt took second, and Bridgette Hartley finished third.

Full results can be found here:

Photo credits:  Owen Middleton


The MAC Squad Makes Florida Landfall


Randall Taylor and the North Florida Watermen may be bringing a bit of an advantage to the start lines next year.  The Florida league of distinguished gentlemen have enlisted the help of Masters World Champion and former South African Olympic Kayak coach Lee Mcgregor.

NFW with Honorary South African Export


On a recent trip to the states, Mcgregor, after travelling to compete at South Carolina’s North Shore Cup (and soundly trouncing the competition of fast men half his age), found himself stopping off in Jacksonville discussing all things paddling over coffee with Taylor.


It was during this conversation that Taylor was introduced to the “Mac Squad”,  which is essentially a group of paddlers (some very prominent) receiving coaching by Mcgregor. Although the group originated in South Africa, it has grown to include paddlers from all over the world.



The coaching will occur primarily through email and video, and will include some personalizing based on each member’s goals and time allotments.


Taylor received solid interest from the others in the paddling group and the merging began.


The already fast NFW intend to follow the coaching program as closely as possible as a form of an experiment, to see to what extent it will improve each paddlers performance.  


The cost is a ridiculously low $30 per month, making getting top-notch training affordable for anyone.


So if you have already invested time and money towards improving your fitness and/or performance, perhaps joining the MAC Squad may be just what you need to take it to the next level.


Nelo Teases Plastic Ski

Nelo has tossed their hat in the affordable plastic surfski genre with the soon to be released, 510 model.

The company website does not currently feature the new polyethylene version, but a video teaser has been made public, showing the ski's versatility highlighted in a wide range of settings, 

The only current information available is that the boat will weigh around 48 lbs and will be affordable.


Sbonelo Khwela Takes Win at 50 Miler

The 2016 edition of the 50Miler Canoe Marathon, presented by StaminoGro, was historic in many ways. For the first time since its inception in 1957 the race was held over one day instead of two and for the first time in history, the race has been won by an African paddler. Previous Dusi winner, Sbonelo Khwela put his river knowledge, great running ability and strong paddling together to carve out this historic victory.

Against a strong field, Khwela was patient and consistent in all aspects of the race, putting together a sublime performance in difficult conditions. The race format was changed due to the drought situation and obviously, despite recent rains and a small water release from Henly Dam, had relatively low water levels.

These racing conditions require careful management of equipment and a paddler’s physical resources, which Khwela managed perfectly on the day, finishing ahead of reigning Dusi Champion, Andy Birkett. Third place was another former Dusi winner Thulani Mbanjwa who is coming into great form this season with this third place and a second place in the Ozzie Gladwin canoe race, behind Birkett at that race as well.

Birkett didn’t have it all his way on the day, he broke the nose of canoe and cracked the back deck after colliding into a submerged rock in the river. He then managed under the circumstances but was unable to match Khwela on the day. The race saw the front three emerge by the time they crested the Pink Rock portage and then had to tackle numerous challenging rapids in between including the aptly named Thombi, Hippo and Gumtree rapids before the finish just past Umfula Store.

Abby Solms Dominated

The women’s race however was a total different affair which saw Dusi Champion Abby Solms dominating from start to finish. In a sublime show of strength and river skill, Solms outperformed her competitors which included London Olympics Bronze medalist, Bridgitte Hartley who will be attempting her first Dusi Canoe Marathon in 2017. Solms made a strong statement to all who wanted to challenge her crown and proving she would be very difficult to beat come the season highlight in February next year. Hartley finished second but can take great value out of the river experience gained in these conditions.


With a strong field, full of young paddlers and those wanted to gain a valuable Dusi qualifier, the 2016 50Miler, presented by StaminoGro was hailed a great success by all despite the heat and relatively low river conditions. Those who gained this historic finishers medal will savour the experience for many years to come and will be a talking point for a long time.


Photo Credits: 369 Communications