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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.