The Doctor: Hill and Clarke Make Statement With Wins

 From Left--Purchase, Clarke and Nixon

From Left--Purchase, Clarke and Nixon

With another top-level surfski race featuring solid conditions, Rachel Clarke and Cory Hill have made loud and clear statements following strong wins at the Perth Doctor this weekend.  

Clarke, who many expected to challenge for overall at the ICF World Championship race in Hong Kong last week, had to instead settle for a somewhat disappointing fourth-place finish. She can now enjoy a level of vindication though, as the Kiwi has reasserted herself as a force in the women's division with a big day in Perth.

Aside from Hong Kong, Clarke has enjoyed a fantastic year with wins at Molokai, King of the Harbour, Gorge Downwind Championships and now the venerated Doctor. 

The win has Clarke poised to secure the 2017 World Surfski Series overall title with one race remaining on the calendar. 

Clarke was followed by nineteen-year-old South African wunderkind Kyeta Purchase who showed composure far beyond her years as she held off World Champion Hayley Nixon who came in at third. 

 Mcgregor, Hill and Kieffer

Mcgregor, Hill and Kieffer

Cory Hill has been busy making a statement of his own with a consecutive win after trouncing the field last week at World's.  Hill is fast becoming the man to beat when conditions get jumpy and has enjoyed his own stellar season after taking the early win at the Auckland King of the Harbour.

Hank Mcgregor brought the fight again, trading punches with Hill and making him dig deep to earn the victory, but ultimately had to settle for second. American Austin Kieffer enjoyed his highest finish ever in a title event, coming in at a highly respectable third.  Kieffer continues to show a great deal of promise with solid finishes in top events.

415 paddlers signed up to see the Doctor, confirming the growing status of the event and continued upward trajectory of Surfski racing as whole. 

The next race in the series will head over to New South Wales on December 9th at the Palm 2 Pines Ocean Race outside of Sydney Australia.

Live updates were curated by Robin Mousley of Surfski Info in what's becoming a welcome addition to international surfski racing.


A River Of Thanksgiving --- by Lindsey (O'Shea) Gray

 Pam Boteler, Lindsey, Kata Dismukes

Pam Boteler, Lindsey, Kata Dismukes

Just as the pilgrims launched the Mayflower out of Plymouth in search of new adventures, hundreds of paddlers disembarked from Ross’s Landing on the bleak morning of October 28, seeking to settle their mettle over a 31-mile stretch of the Tennessee River.

 Photo Credit:  Shawna Herring

Photo Credit:  Shawna Herring

The riverfront park’s namesake, John Ross, was a white man who served for thirty years as chief of the Cherokee Nation. In the 1830s, he sadly had to lead his people forced to relocate to western land.  Part of this “Indian Territory” included the present state of Oklahoma, where I spent a decade of my life. In 2014, I packed my possessions and reverse-Trail of Tears’d to Georgia, where I arrived wielding a double-bladed paddle and cursory knowledge of sprint kayaking. Immediately, I was adopted into a band of people who have been encouraging and exciting ever since. Though I’m enjoying Thanksgiving back in my home state of New Mexico, where the sun is always shiny and the dirt is always dusty, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude for the camaraderie I’ve found in the paddling community, and nothing epitomizes the strength and support of tribal solidarity quite like the Chattajack race.

I trudged out to Ross’s Landing in the frigid rain, with a dismal disposition that was quickly lifted when I discovered that Myrlene Marsa had left a giant cat mask by my boat to surprise me. We may be cunning competitors on the water, but on land, most of the female paddlers are dear friends.


 One Cat Mask --- Check

One Cat Mask --- Check

Kata Dismukes had given me an extra hat to wear, and Dana Richardson gave me the pogies I’ve worn in sub-60-degree weather. I had no clue what paddling gear to wear in rainy, 40-degree weather. Between registering for the Chattajack on May 1 and the race itself on October 28, I paddled 746 miles in warm weather. After all that training, I was not backing down on account of imperfect conditions. I had some warm clothes, and multiple people offered me more layers, but I didn’t want to try anything new on the day of a race. I also feared that if I wound up in the water, I would be glad not to have to deal with heavy clothing. My friends laughed when I expressed my fear of falling--I had raced my boat successfully several times this year, and everyone thought I was going to be just fine.



 Dana Richardson & Lindsey O'Shea

Dana Richardson & Lindsey O'Shea

I was feeling alright, except that I arrived to start the Chattajack with a recent hip injury. But I felt like everyone arrived at least a little broken! I took some Naproxen before the race and hoped adrenaline would carry me through. The pain seared down my leg and up my spine as soon as I sat in the bucket. I knew I could ignore the pain, but I didn’t know how it would affect my stability.

The start wasn’t rough. I was on the very far side of river, the Coolidge side, and I was facing the wrong way when the gun went off, but that minute wasn’t going to make a big difference in my time. I was just lining up like Morgan House was aiming his tandem, and he taught me most of what I know about proper paddling.

 Dana Richardson, Joe Vinson, Lindsey O'Shea, Morgan House, Todd Hyatt

Dana Richardson, Joe Vinson, Lindsey O'Shea, Morgan House, Todd Hyatt

The course takes racers around Moccasin Bend near mile 3, and that day the waves were coming from one direction, the wind from another, and water was reverberating from the riverbank back toward the channel. These were big waves, though I’ve handled worse.  I approached that curve anxiously, and I wasn’t surprised when my uneasiness led to a quick capsize.

I had been falling out more recently, and I had practiced remounting successfully. However, conditions that moment were not like anything I had attempted to simulate. Waves were pushing my boat upstream, and the current was pulling my body the other direction. The 4 liters of water I had mounted with bungees on the deck kept tipping the boat over, so that I was struggling even to keep my boat upright. The longer my boat was upside down, the more water it accumulated inside the hull.

A few people I knew passed me, seeing me obviously floundering out there in my very unique blue boat. I was embarrassed, frustrated, and despondent. I don’t think I would’ve stopped for someone in that situation, either. It’s a race. Survival of the fittest. I was obviously not fit for this. I saw my hopes of finishing dissipate into the distance. All the miles of training, all the hours in the gym, all the driving up here to practice the course, all the sacrifices my family made to enable my sport--all was gone in a splash. I had spent all those rainy days miserably running on a treadmill, when I should’ve been practicing in the inclement weather. My heart sunk to the bottom of the river as I tried to position my boat and my body to attempt a remount.

While I was blundering about, muttering un-Puritanical expletives, some Squanto on a Stellar steed rode up next to me in a tiger-striped surfski and offered to help. He said he wasn’t having a good time, either, and when I whined, “I just want to turn around and go back!”, he said he would go with me. While he held my boat, I managed to remount on my second attempt. Seconds later, he fell into the river, and I held his boat while he climbed back on. We floated together for a couple minutes, and David introduced himself as a wave interpreter, river guide, and everyday hero. We floated side by side while this modern-day Squanto taught me how to catch eels and convert fish into fertilizer. We agreed to attempt navigating around Moccasin Bend once more, and, once we caught a brief break in the wind, we jumped back in the game.

 David Dupree aka Squanto on a Steller

David Dupree aka Squanto on a Steller

I was so flummoxed by flailing that I couldn’t even remember where to put my hands on the shaft. I couldn’t think about any of my technique at all. My race number had fallen off my PFD. My GPS display stopped working, but it was still sending my coordinates to Blake, my husband, who had just sat down to breakfast with the rest of our sherpa crew.

 Blake Gray & Lindsey O'Shea Gray

Blake Gray & Lindsey O'Shea Gray

When David and I started making progress again, there were no racers behind us. I had been stopped for 13 minutes. I knew my race time was going to be terrible, and I knew that I wouldn’t be proud of how I performed in this race. I figured a DNF was about the same as being the last boat to finish. Tears in my eyes, my camelbak hose trailing off my boat, snot pouring over my lips, hat disheveled on my head, I convinced myself that I was more proud of myself for remounting and restarting than I could be proud of myself for finishing strong. I fervently wanted to forfeit this foolishness, but I kept thinking about my coworker, Heather Billings, who had traveled from Atlanta to be the on-water medic for the racecourse. Her boat came within shouting distance a couple times, and I was comforted by her voice. She sent video to Blake when she saw me, telling him that I was looking strong, though I was feeling powerless.

I stopped at Suck Creek (around mile 12), where Blake was up on an embankment. He encouraged me to paddle over the boat ramp, so he could help me situate, but I couldn’t--if I met him at the ramp, I would have had him carry my boat out, and I would have been done for the day. David caught up with me at Suck Creek, and I was glad to see that he seemed to be faring like a Chattachamp.

 Lindsey & Blake

Lindsey & Blake

There seemed to be quite a commotion at Suck Creek, and I couldn’t tell how many people were leaving the water or recharging. Turns out there was some of both. Chattajack had 492 racers depart from Ross’s Landing, 67 of whom did not finish the course. That’s still a much higher success rate than the Mayflower passengers experienced their first winter, when less than half of the colonists survived.

Like indigenous farmers immune to the elements, the chicken cheerleaders became many spirit animals to many of us who saw them on the course. These two guys were out all day, wearing chicken suits and Major League Soccer scarves, chanting “Atlanta! United!” with enthusiasm strong enough to resonate through the despair. The chicken peeps were also offering boiled eggs to the weary paddlers, and later I found out that David was one of the only racers who accepted their snack!

Near Pot Point, I encountered Heather Frogge cheering for racers while wearing a mermaid onesie and gliding through the mist like SUP-nymphs do. She offered me water, cornbread, Neoprene layers, and inspiring words of encouragement. I passed Blake and his bright pink umbrella shortly thereafter, and I smiled when I heard him cat-calling at me from a distance.

 Heather Frogge & Friend

Heather Frogge & Friend

The last half of the race went by in a hazy daze. I looked around at all the paddlers and thought, “How are they not miserable?! Why are they so crazy? Don’t they know we could die of scurvy?” The only happy paddlers I passed were a couple proners, who were chatting to one another about the belt buckle they were going to wear on their hats at the after party. I tried to holler at a couple people “Looking good!” but my tongue and teeth and lips were so numb that my speech was completely garbled. I managed to say something logical to one paddler, and she said, “You too! Nice. . .device!” I assume she was referring to my kayak. None of us were making much sense at that point.

Before the race, I had hoped I would feel like Pocahontas, swinging around each bend of the river with my hair flowing behind me and a pet raccoon perched on my bow. In reality, I looked like a half-drowned river rat, unsure how sit upright or use a paddle effectively. My body never felt tired, but my mind was exhausted. The scenery that had looked absolutely gorge-balls a couple weeks before was bleak, and the cold was unrelenting. I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes, and I eventually even became almost numb to the pain in my hip. I thought about Mitch Cohen, our paddle friend who passed away this year from pancreatic cancer. His battle was harder than anything I have ever faced. “Just keep paddling,” I knew he would’ve said. Stroke after stroke, I fought pity and pessimism, eventually forcing my mind into a meditative mode of counting every time my blade entered the water. I counted up to hundreds and hundreds of little Indians before starting at one again. I didn’t care about my finish time any more: I just wanted this Chattacrap to be over!

 Lindsey on a Brighter Day

Lindsey on a Brighter Day

Finally, Hale’s Bar loomed into vision, a sweet-but-scorned sight. The haunted history of Hale’s Bar is fraught with tales of ghosts and gore. In 1775, having had to forfeit his tribal land for Hale’s Bar dam to be constructed, War Chief Dragging Canoe cursed the area, promising a “dark and bloody” scourge upon the land. The building that marks the final bend of the Chattajack has a vortex of its own, thriving on the souls of weather-weary paddlers. We sludged like creeping apparitions around the building. To combat the gloom, a fleet of fiery maidens on SUPs were cheering and herding paddlers toward the final stretch, seemingly delusional of our misery. I scowled at them and shook an imaginary fist at the settlers who pillaged the property of Dragging Canoe.

I limped across the finish line and crash-landed into Blake’s arms. David “Squanto” Dupree found me and interpreted that I was subsisting satisfactorily. Blake helped me heave my boat out of the water and hustled me into the floating cabin Joe Vinson graciously rented and stocked with a cornucopia of delights. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men sprung into action trying to put me back together. Rick Baker carried my boat and strapped it to my car. Dana Richardson served me the most delectable hot cocoa I’ve had in my life. Karen Vinson stuffed me into a warm shower.

 Joe & Karen Vinson

Joe & Karen Vinson

I was still stunned and discombobulated walking back to the car, but I know Kata hugged me close, and Alain Ross, the other paddler from the village of Cumin, commended my effort.

 Kata hugging Lindsey    Photo Credit Shawna Herring

Kata hugging Lindsey    Photo Credit Shawna Herring

At the pow-wow in the evening, paddlers and posse swapped war stories under the watchful eyes of a arachnid overlord. We all had a miserable experience on some level today; I didn’t think my struggle made me special. I was flattered when so many people, friends and strangers alike, approached me to ask what happened out there! They praised my bravery and fortitude. My frosty heart began to thaw as I was comforted by their compliments.

 Myrlene Marsa, Pam Boteler, Lindsey O'Shea

Myrlene Marsa, Pam Boteler, Lindsey O'Shea

 Lindsey & Julieta Gismondi

Lindsey & Julieta Gismondi

Though I still felt fairly forlorn when leaving Chattanooga, I remembered why I can’t abandon this insane sport: If you are just in it for the race, you will be disappointed. If you are just in it for the sport, you may have some temporary satisfaction. If you are in it for the people, you will be overwhelmed with affection and generosity. Renowned offshore-paddler Michele Eray phrased the sentiment better. At the ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships in Hong Kong, Michele said, “As you get older, you realize it’s about the venue, the people. You want to see things, make friends . . .  it becomes more about that than the racing.”

A successful Chattajack takes a whole colony: from feathered friends, egging us on, to the kind passersby who transported hitchhikers bailing out along Racoon Mountain Rd, to the benevolent ambassadors who shared their dwellings with despondent drowners. We are people who need one another, on water and on land. Thanksgiving is a time when all paddling pilgrims: the Epics, the Fenns, the Thinks, and the Nelos can commune peacefully, swapping energy gels, hydration powder, and fry bread recipes. This year, I’m leaving my season behind and setting aside aspirations for future races, so that I can focus on enjoying the companionship gained from the people who make paddling worth the pain.


World Champs--Crests and Troughs

 Cory Hill     Photo credit:  Graham Daniel & 369Communications

Cory Hill     Photo credit:  Graham Daniel & 369Communications

If the ICF World Surfski Championship showed us anything, it’s that Surfski racing is enjoying a massive surge in popularity. This past weekend, paddlers and fans alike around the world were treated to top-notch racing watched via live Youtube stream.  Now that the dust has settled, we can all breathe our collective exhale and take stock of winners and losers from the event as we reload for 2019.


Admirable Effort--HCKU 

 Well organized and presented.

Well organized and presented.

  •  Hong Kong Canoe Union-- Even from afar it was clear that a great deal of effort and attention to detail was put forth toward coordinating this event. HKCU proved themselves highly capable of handling the big day with aplomb and should remain on the short list for future top-level endeavors.
  • Women-- The ladies have been stealing the spotlight lately.  Day one featured pancake-        flat conditions and demanded 100% redline racing and the dos X chromosomed ones delivered. The Women punched out a brilliant and highly stylistic performance more akin to marathon racing but entertaining nonetheless. Bonus for forty-five hard-chargers towing the line at the start.

 Hayley Nixon

Hayley Nixon

  • ICF--Great coverage and support guys.  Hope you’ve been paying attention, because Surfski will be your future.

  • Live Feed--Riveting. Entertaining. The commentary was spot on.  Drone coverage, Chase boat, leaderboard, and tracking feature all made for the most enjoyable live Surfski coverage to date.   

 Instructional videos aside, Lawler can commentate with the best of them. 

Instructional videos aside, Lawler can commentate with the best of them. 

  • Ivan Lawler-- Who knew?  The man has a talent for commentating. Hope to see Lawler return behind the microphone for future events.

  • Men--Consider someone unacquainted with the sport encountering the men’s race.  They would have been treated to an absolute showcase in every way. The blokes powered through the big conditions like a hot knife through butter.  With zero hesitation in their game, they crushed the headwinds and then turned and surfed runs back like some kind of heavenly dream.  Good show!

  • Cory Hill--No doubt about it, Cory Hill knows how to get the “W” when it counts.  Hill didn’t just win, he marked the fire hydrant. After dropping the field shortly after the start and holding off a late charge by the indomitable Hank Mcgregor, the Aussie looked unstoppable.  

  • Kenny Rice--Not much to say here other than the younger Rice brother has officially broken out and looks poised to be the next big thing.  Rice looked lean and hungry out there.  I’ll be placing my bet’s on him for all future headlining events from this point forward.

  • Hayley Nixon--Winning last year’s World Surfski Series was a step into the big leagues, but her win this past weekend vaulted the Durbanite to the next level. If Nixon previously enjoyed some modicum of underdog status on the main stage, it’s all but gone now.  She will henceforth be a marked paddler, and deservedly so, she’s obviously put the work in and has earned her spot as best in the world.      

 Burn made a statement

Burn made a statement

  • Michele Burn--Always a top-contender, but it’s official now.  Nice show.

  • South Africa and Australia--Still the undisputed leaders of the Surfski world.  

  • Event Photography and Video--  In a word, Wow!

 South Africa and Australia remain at the top of the Surfski world.  From L-- Mackenzie Hynard, Kenny Rice and Valentine Henot (France).

South Africa and Australia remain at the top of the Surfski world.  From L-- Mackenzie Hynard, Kenny Rice and Valentine Henot (France).


 Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect

  • Live Feed--Oh so close to the as polished as you could ask for from a non-mainstream sport.

  • Live Feed Part Deaux  (Women’s Edition)-- Right at the finish?  Really?

All said and done, not much to pick at.  The event was a step forward in almost every way and gave us all something to cheer about. 


Seadog Race 6: Notten, Flanagan seal back-to-back victories at Dunlop


It was a day for the defending champions as both race 5 winners, Nicholas Notten and Kirsten Flanagan, sealed consecutive victories in their respective categories at race 6 of the Fidelity ADT SeaDog Paddle Series & MountainLion Run Series.

With a light south-east wind slowly dissipating, it was an all-time evening for the 145+ athletes who lined up for Cape Town’s favorite paddle/run event. Nearly 120 paddlers and 30 runners made their way down to Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club last Friday for the sixth installment of this classic series, with race 6 sponsored by Dunlop Tyres SA at the Dunlop Zone - Value Tyre & Fitment Tokai.

 Paddlers make their way out of the beautiful Fish Hoek bay for the Dunlop Race 7. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

Paddlers make their way out of the beautiful Fish Hoek bay for the Dunlop Race 7. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

In the ladies SeaDog race, Flanagan showed her dominance yet again as he paddled away from the field to claim her third victory of the season. A tight start in the Fish Hoek shore break did not make things easy, however, and the chasing pack of Alex Adie, Kim Van Gysen and Angie Gaffney Austin forced Flanagan to be at her best in order to take the win. In fact, with minimal assistance from the ocean conditions, it was the lack of presence from multiple series winner Nikki Mocke which provided Flanagan’s only respite.

In the end, it was a fairly comfortable victory for Flanagan, with Adie finishing up yet-again on the podium in 2nd, while the ever-present van Gysen was there to take 3rd.

 Alex Adie has been consistent over the series, earning multiple podium finishes. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

Alex Adie has been consistent over the series, earning multiple podium finishes. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

The men’s race was a showdown between two brothers - Dominic Notten (FENN/Varsity College) and Nicholas Notten (FENN/Orka Paddles). It was Dominic who led from the start, capitalizing on a break in the waves to head out first and claim the all-important Long Beach Brewery Yellow Jersey Hotspot. From there, however, it was the younger brother Nicholas who took charge and paddled away from the pack to claim his second win of the series, and some valuable overall series points.

“I managed to claim the Yellow Jersey, but I knew that Nicholas was simply holding back some energy so that he could hurt me later on.” said Dominic.

 Nicholas Notten cruises over the line to earn his second victory of the season. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

Nicholas Notten cruises over the line to earn his second victory of the season. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

“SeaDog arce 6 was a hard race! Flat, with no assistance. I had a bad start and lost out on the hotspot to Dominic but managed to milk the first downwind leg for all that it was worth.” said Notten. “From there, I tried to keep as much pressure on the pack as possible by maintaining my lead. I managed to hold that to the end.”

Ultimately, the podium featured Nicholas Notten in first, Dominic Notten in second and Czech paddler Jakub Adam (Euro Steel Sport) in third.

With six races down, the overall series leaderboards are hotting up, with the big names starting to rise to the top. With some of the best paddlers in the world returning from the bi-annual ICF World Surfski Championships in Hong Kong this weekend, the racing is set to get even tighter.

In the MountainLion Run, a beautiful evening was enjoyed by some 30 runners who lined up alongside the SeaDog paddlers for their scenic 5km run. In the men's race, Riaan Shaw narrowly out-sprinted Dylan Pivo for the win (and R200 cash), while the ladies race was won by the consistent Georgia Singe.

 Riaan Shaw and Dylan Pivo dice it out over the scenic 5km course. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

Riaan Shaw and Dylan Pivo dice it out over the scenic 5km course. (Photo: Cape Town Sport Photography)

The Fidelity ADT SeaDog Paddle Series & MountainLion Run Series would like to thank Dunlop Tyres SA and Dunlop Zone - Value Tyre & Fitment Tokai for their loyal support and epic prizes. Other sponsors to thank include ORKA Paddling Shop & Thule Fitment Center, Chalford Wealth, Varsity College, Mocke Paddling, Great White Sport & Surf, Mugg & Bean Longbeach Mall, IamSuperbar and others.

The series now looks foreword to the Varsity College Race 7, which is set to be a showdown of epic proportions. SeaDog and Varsity College would like to invite ALL junior paddlers (and aspiring paddlers) to join us for a FREE paddling lesson with the Varsity College Sports Life Captains, starting from Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club at 17:15. More info can be found on SeaDog Paddle Series.

The SeaDog Paddle Series & MountainLion Run Series is a fun 7km paddle and 5km run event that starts from Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club every Friday at 18:00. registration opens at 17:00 and race entry is R20. Food is for sale, a cash bar is always open and families and friends are welcome. The series is never cancelled. For more information, please contact 082 536 2160 or message the SeaDog Paddle Series on Facebook.

All photographs courtesy of John Hishin and Cape Town Sport Photography. To support their fine work, please go to to order your photos!

ACA Announces Morgan House as Director of High Performance & Competition

The ACA is honored to announce that Morgan House has been named as the Director of High Performance & Competition.

Morgan has 18 years experience as a member of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club based out of Georgia and served for two years as the club's High Performance Coach before becoming the Venue Manager for the Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

During his kayak racing career, Morgan participated at more than 20 world-class venues in roughly a dozen countries. He was on the U.S. National Sprint Team from 2003-2012, won 50 national titles and spent five years living and training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

Morgan has a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and PR from Ashford University and a Master's certificate in Project Management from the University of North Georgia. 

After my time spent training for the Olympics, I spent a brief period working as the Hall County District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America. I also spent 2 years working as a coach at the Lanier Canoe Kayak Club. Following my time at the Lanier Canoe Kayak Club, I served as Venue Manager of the Lake Lanier Olympic Park for 3 years. 

In addition, Morgan serves on the Gainesville CVB, the Peach State Bank Youth Development Board, & the The John Jarrard Foundation Board. He is a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club, and a director at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

He has a passion for all things outdoors and spending time with his family.

Racing Results:


  • U.S. National Championships in Seattle, Wash.: 1st in K1 1000m, K2 500m, K2 1000m


  • Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico: 6th in K1 1000m, 7th in K4 1000m
  • World Championships in Szeged, Hungary: 8th in K4 1000M semfinals
  • World Cup No. 3 in Duisburg, Germany: 5th in K-4 1000 B Final, reached semis in K-1 200m
  • World Cup No. 2 in Racice, Czech Republic: 6th in K-4 1000m B Final
  • US Sprint Team Trials: 1st in K-1 200m, 2nd in K-1 1000m, 2nd in K-2 1000m, 3rd in K-2 200m


ICF Worlds: Hill Delivers--Repeats For The Title

 Cory Hill

Cory Hill

Cory Hill put on a master class at the ICF World Championships in Hong Kong.  Hill took a flyer from leader Hank Mcgregor and the rest of the main pack about 2 Kilometers after the start. He took the hotspot and maintained the lead throughout the entire race.  Big conditions created a dynamic setting as competitors plowed forward through the headwinds to the turnaround at the nine pins sea stacks.

Once around Nine Pins the racers turned up the pace going blow for blow on the ripping downwind.

It was during the downwind that Hank Mcgregor heroically bridged back up and threatened Hill for the top spot--creating a nail-biting finish.  Hill maintained composure and kept up the relentless pressure, successfully staving off Mcgregor's threat.  Jasper Mocke was able to slot in at third, cooling off a surging Kenny Rice and displacing him on the podium in the final section.  Consolation for Kenny Rice as he finished the day in a respectable fourth place and newly crowned Under-23 World Champion.

Sean Rice in at fifth.

Jeremy Cotter sixth,

Matt Bouman Seventh,

Mackenzie Hynard eighth. 

Austin Kiefer finished as first American in tenth place. 



ICF Worlds: Nixon makes most of ocean race that became a marathon


South Africa’s Hayley Nixon has broken through to become the third ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Champion in as many races, mastering the flat conditions in Hong Kong to storm to an impressive title.

Nixon took the lead after the first turn and never looked back, firstly beating back the challenge from early race leader, Teneale Hatton of New Zealand, and then withstanding a late challenge from South African teammate, Michelle Burn.

“World champion – I think I’m going to cry. I’ve been waiting to hear that all my life. It sounds amazing,” Nixon said.

“I had to talk to myself quite a lot. There was never room for complacency. I was looking over my shoulder every 200 metres.

“I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve finished next to a previous World Champion, and Michelle Burn, who was almost a World Champion. I couldn’t be prouder, but I’m exhausted.”

The race turned into more of a marathon event than an ocean race, the flat still conditions in complete contrast to conditions in Hong Kong earlier in the week.

Nixon, who came to ocean racing from a rowing background, said although she would have preferred more challenging conditions, the flat water worked to her advantage.

“I think a lot of these girls come from surf lifesaving and big wave backgrounds, so they’re really lethal in the runs. That’s where they’re efficient.

“I’m really efficient when it’s long and hard. For me, the harder the better. That’s where I really get to thrive.”

She also attributed her strength in the water to her decade in rowing.

“I owe a lot of my conditioning and my engine to rowing,” she said.

“The training we did then was ruthless, it was smart, and it was ten years of pure conditioning.

“I’ve basically spent the past four years trying to paddle a ski, and mastering the downwind.”

The U23 world title went to Sweden’s Linnea Stensils, a World Cup 200 metre gold medallist earlier this year.

“I didn’t know when I crossed the finish line that I was first in the U23,” Stensils said.

“I need to improve my aerobic capacity so this is very good training for me. It’s been good for me, motivation for going out at home in the cold.

“I’ve done three ocean races, and all have them have been flat. Hopefully next time there will be some waves.”

The U18 title went to South Africa’s Sabina Lawrie.



  1. NIXON Hayley  (RSA)     1:55:25
  2. BURN Michelle (RSA)    1:55:41
  3. HATTON Teneale (NZL) 1:56:16 


  1. STENSILS Linnea (SWE)         2:00:51
  2. PURCHASE Kyeta (RSA)         2:04:17
  3. MARIE SAINTE Laury (FRA)  2:09:04 


  1. LAWRIE Sabina      (RSA)      2:05:25
  2. SINCLAIR Georgia (AUS)      2:06:13
  3. WOOD Zara           (RSA)       2:18:29

Pic by Graham Daniel

Stellar Teases Redesigned S18S


Stellar Kayaks released a teaser for their Generation two redesign of the brand's much-loved S18s.

The redesign features a departure from their longstanding Venturi bailers in favor of the closeable Debrito as well as narrowed bow, cutaways and optimized trim for increased speed and enhanced surfing.

 Check out more from Stellar: 



Chattajack 31 – A Tale of 2 Races -- Dr. Hypatia Mattingly-Jordan

 A picture is worth a thousand words...Sara Jordan

A picture is worth a thousand words...Sara Jordan

The 2017 Chattajack featured many back stories that need to be told.  One could easily make the argument that the most recent edition has been the year that the women stole the show.  In addition to the Dismukes/Boteler dogfight and the record-setting and subsequent DQ in the Kayak division, was the quiet dominance of OC Paddler Sara Jordan, who set the fastest time of the day among all females (and most males) in an OC-1!  Additionally, team boats have started asserting their presence at the Jack, as witnessed by the increasing numbers and flying times recorded this year.  Hype Mattingly gives us an inside line on Sara's OC race and the winning duo on Surfski Double, Michael Herrin and Morgan House.


Chattajack – hands down, is quickly becoming the preeminent autumnal river race below the Mason-Dixon line.  This year – Chattajack 31- was no exception and here the aim is to shed some light on the individual races for 2 classes of craft that doubled or tripled the number of entries over years past.  2017 Chattajack sported 5 double ski entries, the largest field ever for this class.  And 3 of those entries were men’s teams.  The women’s OC1 category also showed a banner year for entries – 7 women in total.  These two classes might seem worlds apart, but in real life, when you talk to the racers, you find a lot of common themes.  A paddler is as a paddler does… as the saying goes (ok I made that up but still…).

 House--K1 Pedigree

House--K1 Pedigree

1st Place - Team Double Ski – Morgan House and Michael Herrin – both of Gainsville, GA.  The team completed the course in a blistering time of 4:10:10 – setting the course record for double ski.  Morgan House is an ICF K1 veteran who spent 8 years on the national team and lived 5 years at the Olympic training center.  Despite his accomplishments with the double blade though, Morgan has also competed in some big OC6 races, including the Molokai Hoe and the Catalina Crossing.  In contrast, Morgan’s racing partner, Michael Herrin describes himself as a relative newb – with only 3 years surfski experience.  He calls Morgan, “an amazing coach and training partner” but it was Michael who suggested they team up for Chattajack 31.    

 Sara Jordan

Sara Jordan

1st Place – Women’s OC1 - Sara Jordan threw down an unbelievable time of 4:44:58, the fastest time of any female-only craft on the water and blowing away – by 33 minutes - her own 2016 course record for women’s OC1.  Sara is also known as an elite surfski paddler.  Why the turn to the single blade for this race?  For Chattajack 31, Sara opted to defend her title from the 2016 race in the single Outrigger Canoe.  And besides, Sara says that paddling OC1 this time around fit better into her training plan, because of her other big single blade event:  in July of this year, Jordan paddled V1 in the 2017, International Va’a Distance Championships held in Tahiti.  

The Conditions

Most racers had undoubtedly been eyeing the weather prediction days ahead of Chattajack 31.  A week before the race, conditions were supposed to be 100% rain until 1 p.m.  With wind.  Oh, and a High of 45°F.  Despite all hopes that the prediction would improve, and in an exceedingly singular display of prescience, the meteorologists were actually dead-on-balls-accurate and the racers started and ended the trek in some very challenging conditions.  Few racers would have had an opportunity to train in those kinds of conditions this time of year.  


Sara Jordan finished the race strong – albeit blue and shivering, despite donning her best neoprene.  In an unwavering display of positivity, the frontrunner noted that she received a boost while racing during the rare occasion(s) that the sun actually made an appearance.  She called those uncommon moments, “Glorious.”  

 Post-Race Warming

Post-Race Warming

Michael and Morgan – Georgia (hot!) residents - in the double ski reported that they had done plenty of training in chop and headwinds but that the low temperatures were a special kind of challenge (read “hell”).  Morgan House noted, “I’m not sure I have ever been so cold in my entire life!”  

The Start:  Bun Fight

Anyone who watched the start with the challenging conditions would agree:  shambolic.  The current was ripping, pulling the entire block of 100s of paddlers down river.  The bone-chilling headwind – with pelting rain (a bonus) - was creating some white-cap shear on the water.  These conditions made it difficult for even the most adept competitors to hold the start line as they were forcefully being pushed forward prior to the race start.  Team House and Herrin in the double ski called the start “interesting.”  The conditions had pushed them so far forward over the start line that they decided to turn around and paddle back to behind the line before the race start.  As luck would have it, when the horn sounded, they were actually still heading UP river – a predicament that forced them to have to turn around and spend the first part of the race trying to catch up to the rest of the pack.  


Sara Jordan, in the OC1, noted the chaos that the conditions inflicted upon the racers before the horn and succinctly described the start with the words, “OMG, what a bun fight!”  

Race Strategies

Among top-of-the-heap racers, one strategy for long distance races is for the leaders to spend most of the race taking turns drafting each other to conserve energy.  For the final few miles or so, the top competitors then have at each other (with fangs) with a sprint to the finish to determine the winner.  About 90 seconds separated 1st and 3rd place teams for the men’s double surfski over a race that took over 4 hours.  That would suggest a tight race.  When asked though, Team House and Herrin indicated that drafting did not play a part at all in their race.  Instead, the team relied on controlling the stroke rate and focusing on maximizing glide.  The strategy enabled them to pass other paddlers, despite their challenging starting position.  After that, they held the top position until the end.


Meanwhile, in the women’s OC1 class, well ahead of the boats in her class and without the opportunity to draft others, Sara’s race strategy was simple but effective:  pick off as many out-of-class crafts as possible.  For Sara, that amounted to catching a lot of SUPs.  The tactic served her well, but Sara said that her main motivation for trying to catch the SUPs was so she could more closely study their technique and become a better single blade paddler herself.  


Not surprisingly, the racers in both the double ski and in the women’s OC1 class found the final 8-10 miles of the race the hardest part.  The 31-mile trek tests even the most seasoned of racers even in the best of conditions. Jordan in the women’s OC1 class, worn down from the cold and some muscle cramping, found herself wishfully (and futilely) wondering, “Is this the last curve?” at every bend in the river.  She noted that the last few miles of the race present a difference in the type of water.  The changes make the management of the conditions and the reading of the course even more crucial during a period in the race when the paddlers are the most fatigued.  

 Team House and Herrin

Team House and Herrin


For the double ski team, Michael Herrin and Morgan House both noted that their pace slowed a bit the last few miles.  They gave high props to their competitors for pushing them.  “Both of those crews are very strong and I’m happy that we were able to pull out the win,” House commented.  No doubt, Morgan’s strong experience with racing helped the team pull out the win.  But Michael’s wicked sense of humor helped the team break up the grind of the last few miles and his 3-time experience at Chattajack proved invaluable as he was able to point out landmarks and river conditions during the race.  

 Humor Powered

Humor Powered

In Reflection

The racers looked back over the training that carried them during the 31-mile race.  Morgan House who was happy with his team’s performance, nevertheless noted that next year, he would endeavor to put in more water time.  He urges anyone looking to do the race next year to start training for it…today!  Always striving to improve, Michael Herrin plans to pick his teammate’s brain about how to better train and would like to defend their double ski title next year.  Sara Jordan attributes her 2017 success to a more focused training plan, and her ability to spar and train with Sunny Jackson*.  “She is fearless and…despite some bizarre crap on the Delaware River… she was always ready to go.”  Jordan also appreciated the ability to get in a few training sessions with Pam Boteler, “You can’t not bring your A-game to those sessions!”



(Side note and hat tip to Sunny Jackson of Philadelphia, a Chattajack Neophyte.  Sunny took the #2 spot for this class – and, she ALSO broke the previous course record for women OC1 paddlers!)  


So the verdict is IN!  Chattajack is quite a race and HUGE kudos go out to the volunteers and race organizers.  Sara Jordan calls the race, “one of the best run races in the US” and notes that the organizers think of everything “like the time printouts in the tent and Halloween candy”!  Team House and Herrin echo the thoughts, “I think the overall race was well organized and I applaud the officials and volunteers for putting on a strong event” says Morgan House.  Herrin adds thanks to friends and families who come out and support the racers and pledges to be back next year.  “Ben and Kim and all of the volunteers and the competitors make this a fantastic event for spectator and competitor.  I can’t wait to make it back (I’m really diggin’ that belt buckle!).”

 Yep, you're done.

Yep, you're done.

Flavio Costa--Racer Profile

 Costa Slinging Carbon With Bad Intentions

Costa Slinging Carbon With Bad Intentions

The Sunshine State arguably boasts the deepest roster of high-level paddlers in the nation. To stand out among these fast watermen and women, you’ve got to have a pretty solid “A” game. Flavio Costa is one of those select few that places at or near the top of every race in the region.  We spoke with Flavio to get the lowdown on his backstory.  

SN: Age?  

FC: 36

SN: Age when you started kayaking

FC: Cant remember exactly, I think I was 12.

SN: Occupation?

FC: Home improvements and renovations.

 On The Run

On The Run

SN: Where do you live?

FC: Palm Coast, Florida

SN:  Where else have you lived and where are you from originally?

FC:  Newark, New Jersey. Originally from Aveiro, Portugal.

SN: How old were you when you came to America?

FC: I just turned 21 when I first came to the USA.

 Game To Try Other Disciplines--On The Podium For Mixed OC-2 At Chattajack--with Hildren Francis

Game To Try Other Disciplines--On The Podium For Mixed OC-2 At Chattajack--with Hildren Francis

SN: Any differences between America and Portugal in terms of paddlesports?  What style of racing is more popular?  

FC: Yes much more competitive with more young people involved.  It was a while back but it didn't feel like a business, more of a sport.  Marathon and sprints are both very popular.  I never heard about surfski until a few years ago, now it is starting to pick up very fast and a lot of people are doing it.

SN:  Team(s)?

FC: North Florida Watermen and Elite Ocean Sports.

SN: What are the North Florida Watermen?

FC: We are just a group of paddlers:  Surfski, Spec Ski, OC1 and SUP that don't like to paddle by ourselves.  We eventually decided to name it.   Unfortunately, I live an hour away from all the guys/girls. I try to meet up with them at least once a week if I can. Some of us get a training schedule from Lee Mcgregor but with my busy schedule, I can’t train all 6 days.



SN:  Boat(s)?:

FC: Nelo 560

SN: What do you like about the 560?

FC: I always liked the brand Nelo. The 560m, reminds me of the K1 I used to paddle. It is comfortable, shorter than most and turns a bit quicker.

SN: Paddle and settings you favor (length and feather angle)?

FC: Jantex. Depending on the conditions, I vary length from 210 cm to 212 cm at 65 degrees.

It is the Gamma Rio medium flexi-soft shaft.

SN: Background in paddlesports?  

FC: All my teenage years I raced flatwater sprints and marathons.

SN: Preference or discipline you enjoyed the most?

FC:  I enjoyed doing marathon the most, it was more challenging and tactical.

SN: How did you start on the surfski?  

FC:  Started paddling Surfski in 2011.  I like to race, but for flatwater racing, there were only a few races per year (in America) so

I borrowed a surfski from a friend (Jan Lupinski), and did my first surfski race in Connecticut and loved it.

SN: Lighthouse to Lighthouse?

FC: Yes.


SN: What was it about the surfski that you enjoyed?

FC: Wasn't limited to paddling on flat water. On a surfski, I could catch waves or go through waves and the boat wouldn’t sink.  You could keep on paddling. You could go anywhere you wanted.

SN: Do you have a background in other sports or other water sports?

FC:  No, when I started paddling I didn't even know how to swim.

SN: Most Notable Results?

FC: I’ve got a few first places but the most memorable were when I got 3rd place in Portugal in the National Marathon.  It was pretty good because the competition there is fierce.  I qualified to be part of a team to race against the best of Portugal.

 Going Back.  Flavio Third From Right

Going Back.  Flavio Third From Right


SN: What year did this occur?

FC:  The 3rd place in the marathon was in 1998, I qualified to be part of a team when I was 14, 15 and 16, I believe.

SN: K1 marathon is rarely seen in the states, would you like to see the growth to reflect the European scene?

FC: I would like to see more serious kayak races in general.  In K1 marathon, I would give it a shot again.

SN: Best experience on the ski?

FC: On my first surfski race at the Lighthouse To Lighthouse race in Connecticut, I came in 3rd right behind Joe Glickman, one of the nicest guys I ever met. He asked who I was and congratulated me on my 3rd place, it felt very special.

SN: What are your future plans on the boat?

FC: I'm going to keep on paddling. I like challenges and the rush of a race but I'm also trying to get my son involved; other kids might see it and decide to try it as well.

SN: Thank you Flavio.



Bouman and Burn Ante Up At Pete Marlin

 Matt Bouman

Matt Bouman

Matt Bouman was first across the line last weekend at the Border Canoe Club's Pete Marlin Surfski Race held in East London, South Africa. 

Bouman finished the 23km downwind course with a time of 1:27:28.  Gene Prato followed at 1:30:14 with Joshua Fenn in at third another 51 seconds off.

 Smiles for Miles--Michelle Burns

Smiles for Miles--Michelle Burns

Michelle Burn crossed first for the women at 1:39:06.  Nikki Russell slotted in at second with Kyeta Purchase in at third.

Next up will be the biennially occurring ICF World Surfski Championships in Hong Kong on November 18 and 19. 

Ukraine's Trunov suspended for doping violation

 Trunov, front--on four-year suspension

Trunov, front--on four-year suspension

The International Canoe Federation has announced the four-year suspension of Ukranian sprint paddler Igor Trunov following a positive drug test earlier this year.

Trunov returned the positive test during an in-competition test at the opening ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup event in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal, in May.

As a result, Trunov and his teammates will be disqualified and will be required to return the gold medals they won in the K4 500 and K2 500 in Montemor, along with the K2 500 bronze medal they won in the second ICF World Cup in Szeged.

He will also be disqualified from the K1 200 metres and ordered to return the silver medal he won in Montemor.

Trunov returned an elevated testosterone reading, and after careful consideration by the ICF Doping Control Panel, a decision was taken to apply the full force of the law against the Ukranian.

“The International Canoe Federation is determined to wipe out cheating in our sport,” ICF President Jose Perurena said.

“There is no place for doping in any sport, and we will continue to take a strong stand until the message gets through to athletes; cheat and you will be caught, and you will suffer the consequences.

“We have so many tremendous athletes in canoeing, all clean and working hard to be the best they possibly can. We owe it to them, the fans and the sport to maintain our zero-tolerance of doping, and we make no apologies for cracking down hard on athletes who break the rules.”


ACA Names Chris Barlow As Sprint High Performance Manager


The ACA is honored to announce that Chris Barlow has been named as the Sprint High-Performance Manager.


Chris is a U.S. Olympian competing in Sprint Kayak in 1992 in the 1000m K4. He continues to race today in surf ski races and Sprint National Championships. However, his true passion is coaching athletes. He has been the Head Coach and Founder of the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team since its inception in 1996, but also has national and international coaching experience as the men's coach at the 2009 and 2011 Junior World Championships in Moscow and Brandenburg. Chris was named Head Coach of the USA Junior National Team for the 2010 Pan American Championships in Mexico City. Chris has been a Director with the Sprint Coaches Association since its formation in 2007. Chris is a certified Sprint Coach with the International Canoe Federation (ICF).

Kentucky Waterman Series Wraps Up This Weekend


For the past two years Gerry Seavo-James has been making things happen in the Bluegrass state.  Last year, James created the Kentucky Waterman Series and has advocated and promoted tirelessly ever since.

 Gerry Seavo-James

Gerry Seavo-James

The series has proven to have had a catalyzing effect on paddling in the area, bringing out new competitors and improving the current stock in the area by upping the ante with the localized series.

 Stirring the local pot creates better racers

Stirring the local pot creates better racers

This Saturday marks the finale for the 2017 season and looks to be a good one.  The Big South Fork River Dash is set in the beautiful Kentucky mountains just outside of neighboring Whitley City.


This year, the race features three distance options: four, eight and fourteen miles.  The course travels through deep river valleys along limestone rock outcroppings; a beautiful representation of Kentucky’s signature style. The river, although not particularly deep, will likely not warrant over-stern rudders unless there has been significant drought.

 Good Numbers

Good Numbers

Registration is already looking solid, so if you’re looking for a final test before mother nature bleeds the last remaining warmth from our fair part of the globe, head over to Big South Fork and mix it up with the locals.

Register here:

Kentucky Waterman Series:

 Every Region Has  It's Own Style

Every Region Has  It's Own Style

World Paddle Awards Announces 2017 Nominees


The World Paddle Awards released their nominees for 2017 with a list that included a few familiar Surfski paddlers.

 Rachel Clarke

Rachel Clarke

RACHEL CLARKE (New Zealand) - Nominee for the 2017 Sportswoman of the Year Award

  • Born: 1990, Sports: Ocean Ski and Surf Ski, Represents: New Zealand
  • 2017: 1st Molokai Championship, 1st NZ Surf Ski Queen of the Harbour, 1st Gorge Downwind Champs, 2nd Canadian Surf Ski Champs
  • 2016: 1st NZ Surf Ski Queen of the Harbour 26km, 2nd Molokai Championship, 2nd Canadian Surf Ski Champs, 2nd North American Surf Ski Champs, 3rd Hong Kong Dragon
  • 2015: 1st NZ Surf Ski Queen of the Harbour, 1st West Coast Downwinder, 3rd North American Surf Ski Champs, 3rd US Surf Ski Champs, 3rd ICF World Surf Ski Champs, 3rd Perth Doctor 

Rachel Clarke is quickly becoming one of the most accomplished females in the history of ocean racing. After adding another Molokai Ocean Ski, Queen of the Harbour and World Series title wins to her belt in 2017, Rachel has asserted her dominance amongst some of the toughest fields the sport has seen.

These successes now make Rachel a two times Molokai winner and five time Queen of the Harbour winner, which is no mean feat. Against the likes of Teneale Hatton, who is a world-class paddler in her own right, Rachel is deserving of many accolades.

Whilst many top athletes like Rachel are able to train and race as a full time job, Rachel is able to achieve these amazing results whilst still working as a full time Police Officer in New Zealand. On top of this she is also fully immersed in the sport as a coach and volunteer for many local surf life saving paddlers.

As recognition for her achievements, Rachel has received the New Zealand Police Association Sportsperson of the Year award twice, becoming the first back-to-back winner of the honour. Her hard work and personal sacrifice earning her mountains of respect from her colleagues, fellow athletes and the wider community.

After years of significant victories with minimal acknowledgement, Rachel is completely deserving of a nomination for the Sportswoman of the year award.

Other activities and achievements off the water

  • Front line Police officer based at Auckland’s North Shore for the past 6 years.
  • Volunteer lifeguard at Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving club
  • In her spare time she loves going to the beach and spending time with friends and family.


 Oscar Chalupsky

Oscar Chalupsky

OSCAR CHALUPSKY (South Africa) - Nominee for the Lifetime Achievement Award

Twitter: @Oscar Chalupsky

  • Born: 1963, Sports: ocean ski paddling, kayaking (sprint and marathon), surf life saving
  • Represents: South Africa
  • Results: 12 x Molokai winner, multiple winner of the Sella Descent, Lucky Strike Challenge and Umkomaas River Marathon
  • Co-founder of Epic Kayaks
  • CEO of Nelo Surfski

Oscar Chalupsky is one of the most decorated and recognisable watermen in the world. His resume spans over an incredible 36 years, with few paddlers holding a record comparable to this. His effortless technique and knowledge of the ocean has seen him achieve results some athletes can only dream of including 12-time Molokai Ocean Ski Champion, multiple winner of the Umkomaas River Marathon and Olympic representative.

What’s outstanding about Oscar is his longevity and tenacity which has seen him take on and beat athletes over 30 years his junior. In 2012, at 49 years of age, Oscar took home his 12th Molokai title, 29 years after his maiden win. A truly inspiring result.

On top of his ocean ski successes Oscar competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games where he was the team captain for South Africa. He is also a multiple winner of the prestigious Umkomaas River Marathon.

Oscar won the world-famous Sella Decent in Spain in 1986 with his brother Herman. The biggest marathon race that everybody wants to win! His father won the same race in 1968 and both their names are carved into the bridge over the Sella. Oscar came second in 1981 with Matt Carlisle. With his brother Herman he had five top 3 finishes.

The above already would take a 'normal' elite athlete several lifetimes, but Oscar also won the Lucky Strike Challenge 10 times. This endurance feat started as a friendly challenge on January 7, 1972, between ultra-distance runner John Ball and Surf Lifesaving legend John Woods, who would paddle the race, where the outcome would indicate who was faster - the runner or the paddler? The Challenge is the ultimate contest between man and the elements of nature, a reputation that has enticed competitors back every time it has been staged.

Away from the competition arena Oscar has played a vital role in the development and success of Ocean Ski Paddling. In 2000 Oscar co-founded Epic Kayaks, which today is one of the leading brands in Ocean Ski Paddling. In May of 2015 Oscar stepped down from his position with Epic and took over as the CEO for Nelo Surfski, which is currently the worlds largest kayak manufacturer.

Oscar’s many successes have inspired the paddlesports world and left people wondering how he does it. In a bid to answer these questions Oscar conducts surf ski clinics around the world which teach paddlers how to train, race and win using his methods and technique. With thousands of people already beneficiaries of Oscars expertise, he has left an everlasting impression on this community.

Oscar Chalupsky is larger than life, a legend, and known for his particular sense of humour; the way he is able to light up a room with his energy and passion. Oscars service to the paddlesports community has already spanned over 36 years and lucky for us, there is no signs of him slowing down. As a previous nominee in this category, the World Paddle Awards acknowledges the fact that these achievements and contributions to the sport do not diminsih and in Oscar's case are ongoing. Consequently, the nominees who finish second in this category each year will be renominated moving forward. The whole paddlesports community will be forever greatful for Oscar's passion and committment to the sport and as a result he is a deserving nominee for the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other achievements:

  • 1978: Junior and Senior Surfski champion, Junior and Senior Iron Man champion. Both in South Africa.
  • First person in the world to win junior and senior Iron Man about one month before Grant Kenny.
  • 8 South Africa Iron man titles and 11 Senior surf ski titles.
 Hank Mcgregor

Hank Mcgregor

HANK MCGREGOR (South Africa) – Nominee for 2017 Sportsman of the Year Award. Photo credit: Balint Vekassy


  • Born: 1979, sports: canoe marathon (K1 or K2), downriver, ocean-racing and surfski, represents: South Africa
  • 2017: Gold K1 & K2 World Marathon Championships; Gold World Cup Surf Ski; Silver Molokai Surf Ski Race
  • 2016: Gold K1 & K2 World Marathon Championships; Gold Berg River Marathon; Gold Maui Jim Molokai Challenge
  • 2015: Gold K1 & Silver K2 World Marathon Championships; Gold Berg River Marathon
  • 2014: Gold K1 & K2 World Marathon Championships; Gold K1 Hansa Fish River Marathon; Gold Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon; Gold K1 Maui Jim Molokai Challenge

Hank McGregor has officially reached legend status after winning (another!) double gold in the K1 and K2 at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in September, replicating his historic wins in 2014 and 2016. The two gold medals now gives the South African paddling icon a total of ten world championship titles, seven of which have been in the K1 event (K1: 2003, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017; K2: 2014, 2016, 2017).

In front of a home crowd in South Africa, Hanks experience and world class tactics proved to be too good. With 500m to go after the gruelling 30km paddle, he was in pole position and outsprinted his competitors to take him his ninth World Title. In the K2 event tactics again came into play, with he and his K2 partner Jasper Mocke played their cards close to their chest before unleashing in the final straight to take the win ahead of Hungary and the other South African crew. 

These two historic wins cements Hanks name in the history books as one of the most dominating canoe marathon paddlers of his generation and possibly of all time. He is also one of the most multi-talented and diverse athletes across all competitive paddlesports. In addition to his successes as a marathon paddler he is a multiple South African river marathon champion, multiple South African surfski champion and winner of numerous international ocean races. In 2017 he won the ICF World Cup surf ski race in Mauritius and claimed a close silver medal at the famous Molokai Ski Race in Hawaii.

He has paddled competitvely, and been winning, for over 20 years, and his results only seem to be getting better. In addition to his amazing achievements on the water, Hank is a devoted family man, runs a small construction company and is devoted to improving Surf Ski paddling in South Africa. As the winner of the 2014 WPA Sportsman of the Year Award, this year marks Hanks fourth consecutive nomination. 

Activities and achievements off water:

  • Hank and his wife Pippa have organised the inaugural Euro Steel McGregor Series, aimed at getting paddlers into their boats and paddling in the early season, to have some fun events to participate in and to encourage new and young participants into the sport and into the wonderful world of marathon racing.
  • WPA Sportsman of the Year 2014.
  • Hanks father Lee was a top swimmer for South Africa who was not allowed to compete at the Olympics or World Championships because of apartheid in the country at the time. Lee became a leading ocean, surfski and river paddler, plus an ironman instead.
  • Hank and his wife Pippa have one child.


THE MOLOKAI CHALLENGE (United States of America) - Nominee for the 2017 Industry Professional Award

Website:, Facebook:

The Molokai Challenge, originally named Kanaka Ikaika, is a true test of paddling skill, endurance and knowledge of ocean surfing. It tests a paddler’s ability to maneuver against unpredictable weather conditions in the Kaiwi Channel.  Considered as one of the roughest ocean channels in the world, paddlers from all around the world converge on Molokai every year to test themselves against their competitors and the unpredictable conditions.

1976 was the first crossing by Dale “Doc” Adams, which took him 7 hours and 30 minutes. Doc Adams called his crossing “the challenge of the day,” but it has since developed into the premier long-distance, open ocean, solo crossing in the world.

In 1977 Adams consulted Hawaiian linguist Pilahi Paki who described the effort as “Kanaka Ikaika,” which literally translated means “Mankind’s respectful challenge of the great, mighty ocean.” This translation couldn’t be more accurate. Following his crossing, the first official race was held in 1977, organized by newly formed Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association with Doc Adams at the helm.

The start is off the west end of Molokai near Kaluakoi, and traditionally finishes 32 miles away in the Marina off Hawaii Kai. With such a rich history featuring the best paddlers the world has ever seen, the race has grown into what is now considered the World Championships of Open Ocean Surfski racing.

After decades of staging these championships, the Molokai Challenge is a deserving nominee for the 2017 Industry Professional Award.

 Dean Gardiner

Dean Gardiner

DEAN GARDINER (Australia) - Nominee for the Lifetime Achievement Award

Website:, Facebook Page:

  • Born: 1965, Sport(s): ocean racing/surf ski, outrigger, Ironman, represents: Australia
  • Results: 9x Molokai winner, surf ski World Cup gold
  • Founder and organiser of Australian Ocean Paddler series

Dean Gardiner has been at the pinnacle of Australian ocean racing for more than twenty years. Dean’s career started with a mix of lifesaving, surf ski and Ironman events, before he decided to focus on the longer distance surf ski races.

Since he made the move to ocean racing, Dean has won races all over the word, from the US to Tahiti. Dean won the inaugural surf ski World Cup in 2004 (Cape Town). He entered his first Molokai in 1989 and has competed every year since 1999. The arduous 32-mile race takes place on one of the roughest ocean channels in the world, making those who finish some of the toughest paddlers in the world.

Dean has won the revered Molokai title nine times. His experience and extreme fitness meant Dean could set the race record in 1994, only to reset it again with the current record of 3:21:26 in 1997. Dean is the only man to have won both the Surf Ski and Outrigger Molokai titles in the same year.

Dean is largely responsible for the growth of the sport in Australia, with considerable financial investment as the owner and founder of Ocean Paddler and the Ocean Racing Series, which will comprise of 13 events for the 2017/18 season.

Dean’s passion for the sport has gone far beyond competing; he is also an excellent coach, event organiser, sponsor and mentor. On top of all this, he works for Fire and Rescue NSW.

Dean has achieved a lifetime of excellent results in the sport, setting the bar high at international events and driving the industry in Australia. As a previous nominee in this category, the World Paddle Awards acknowledges the fact that these achievements and contributions to the sport do not diminsih and in Dean's case are ongoing. Consequently, the nominees who finish second in this category each year will be renominated moving forward. The whole paddlesports community will be forever greatful for Dean's passion and committment to the sport and as a result he is a deserving nominee for the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. 

You can learn how to place your vote here:


The Gorge--300 Registered in First 10 Hours


It's on! In spite of the late opening registration, almost 300 paddlers, the vast majority of which registered for surfski, have already signed-on for the Gorge Downwind Championships.

The race is capped at five-hundred, leaving two-hundred available. The safe bet is that the remaining slots will move quickly.  

Race director Carter Johnson has announced that he will be employing more staff to handle logistics and facilitate a better experience for competitors.



Gorge Registration Opens Today--It will Sell Out!

 This could be you.

This could be you.

The Gorge Downwind Championships AKA "Gorge A Palooza" registration opens today and will likely sell out quickly.  The Gorge Race has been steadily gaining momentum as the premier American event and the buzz is spreading.

 Carter Johnson

Carter Johnson

Race Director Carter Johnson has crafted the week-long event to create a complete experience and has left no stone unturned in order to deliver the goods. If you're considering making the pilgrimage this year, don't wait to register, you may miss your opportunity.


Thousand Yard Stare


In many ways, the Chattajack has become the de facto marathon national championship racing event on the calendar. If you haven’t booked your entry, you may want to consider having a run.  The double blade paddlers have increasingly been showing up, now it’s time to push for more elites at the top level.  I suspect 2018 will see this occur.  Erik Borgnes has thrown down the gauntlet and will likely result in a call to arms for the nations best to show up and challenge his mark.

So what is it about this event that makes it unique?  A few things:  

  • Distance-- Longer races are readily available, but 31+ miles seems to be a sweet spot.  It’s just long enough to push the boundaries of endurance and just short enough to require sustained shorter 10k distance speed. So in a word--relentless.

  • Timing--Coming at the end of a long season is a great way to end your sporting year and segway into a break.  It’s like that final cataclysmic climax that defines an action movie.

  • Conditions--Placing itself right on the cusp of a big shift in the weather, the Chattajack conditions are always the wildcard.  And without a doubt, it plays a major role.  At last count, half of all editions have been plagued by meteorologic adversity.  But this additional dynamic really just adds to the intrigue. It creates an anticipation like any good build up to a climax. It’s a necessary setup for the script.    

  • Buzz--You can’t argue with buzz.  Call it je ne sais quoi or whatever you like, but it’s here in spades and it raises stocks through the roof.  

  • Inland--The fact is that paddlesports, be it: SUP, OC, Surfski, etc are often seen as synonymous with ocean conditions, but the reality is that many paddlers are not from the coast.  The ocean requires a special skill set that can only be refined by repeatedly being on the ocean. An inland challenge such as the Chattajack is a race that coastal and inland paddlers can do alike.  It levels the playing field where otherwise coastal paddlers would have home-field advantage as well as referee bias.



This year marks the first time I’ve been on the sidelines instead of participating in the Chattajack race. Being on the dry side for a change was eye-opening.  Generally watching a long kayak race is about as exciting as watching snail ballet, but this was different.  The “race” is clearly not just about who finishes first, but rather, who can overcome a war of attrition.  The Cjack is more of a question than an answer, and the question is: “what are you made of”?  Whether you were a top-contender or out on your first dance down the gorge it asks the same question, just in a different way.  I stood at the finishing sprint hollering and heckling racers and friends trying to elicit a smile or a laugh without success.  They all shared the same facial expression.  At the risk of trivializing war, they all looked like they had just returned from an intense psychically draining front for days on end, where their focus had been razor honed and stretched far beyond the limits of what they assumed was capable.  Without exception, every single competitor came in with a thousand-yard stare on gaunt, pallid faces.  I helped a young strapping college lad lift his uber light boat because he could not lift his half (someone else had the front half)--which probably weighed no more than 10 lbs.  I witnessed tears, frustration, exaltation, exhaustion, and a host of other displays that ultimately define the very core of who we are as humans.  It was like seeing every competitor, friend or stranger strip away every facade of who they were externally and expose themselves for what they are on the inside. No superficiality. Every outside layer removed to expose their most intimate core. What they are made of…

 Newcomer at the start. Veteran by the finish--Lee Droppelman

Newcomer at the start. Veteran by the finish--Lee Droppelman


In this way, the race is nothing more than a catalyst.  The real show is watching paddlers pass by or finish in their most raw state.  In a way, this is art in it’s truest form. I have gratitude to have been both a competitor and then later, a spectator.  I think it gave me the gift of understanding the language.  To be able to interpret in some way what each individual was experiencing.  


To all those who completed the event regardless of your time, you’re all veterans now,  You’ve all seen “action” and deserve a certain amount of respect.  



 First Timers

First Timers

 and even the best have the "stare" at the finish

and even the best have the "stare" at the finish