DABS High Altitude Surfski Champs

READY, STEADY, GO: The start bunch and all celebrities with the wave maker.

READY, STEADY, GO: The start bunch and all celebrities with the wave maker.

SURFSKI races along the coastline have been growing in popularity, and paddlers in Gauteng are feeling left out, especially as rivers are becoming more polluted. Not that there are many river choices in Gauteng, anyway.

The decision to host a Gauteng High Altitude Surfski championship race annually has taken the paddling community of surfskiers, SUPs and sit-on-tops, the various kayaks or canoes, by storm. The championship race takes place in early March and is growing from strength to strength, with superb sponsorship from Euro Steel, Adreach, Fenn, Set and a number of private individuals. The top celebrity paddlers come from far and wide to challenge the Gauteng champions.

Multiple Dusi winner Andrew Birkett, the world surfski and marathon champion as well as multiple Dusi race winner Hank McGregor, the Olympian bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley and two-time world surfski champion Jasper Mocke were just a few of the celebrity South African paddlers.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Members from the Johannesburg Canoe Club, based at Wemmer Pan, thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Ryan Ziervogel and Warren Ziervogel – boat 102 – orange vest /blue sleeves and green cap.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Members from the Johannesburg Canoe Club, based at Wemmer Pan, thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Ryan Ziervogel and Warren Ziervogel – boat 102 – orange vest /blue sleeves and green cap.

The race was hosted on Saturday, March 4, at Emmarentia Dam at 15:30. The race consisted of 10 laps of the dam, making up a 10km hard, fast time trial.

To add to the celebrity status on the dam water were Siseko Ntondini and Piers Cruickshanks. These two paddlers come from diverse backgrounds. One is from Moatsoledi informal township in Orlando Park, Soweto, and one is an English teacher from Rosebank. There challenge to partner up inspired a movie, Beyond the River, which will be released in South Africa in April.

To simulate surf conditions, a number of motorboats and other watercraft revved motors up and down the centre of the dam as the paddlers made circuits on the outside.

Enormous fun was had by all, especially the spectators, passers-by and drivers.

Martin van den Bergh, chairman of the Johannesburg Canoe club, and Morgan Ziervogel, the top Gauteng woman paddler, were among the 150 paddlers in Gauteng who completed the 10km race, finishing in 50 minutes as the third mixed-double surfski finishers (male/female combination). Son and father combination Ryan and Warren Ziervogel also enjoyed the event, finishing in 56 minutes.

ENJOYING THE CHALLENGE: JCC members at Wemmer Pan thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch. Martin van den Bergh (red top) and Morgan Ziervogel (white top) paddle away.

ENJOYING THE CHALLENGE: JCC members at Wemmer Pan thoroughly enjoyed the only high-altitude surfski race in the world, especially with numerous world-famous paddlers in the bunch.
Martin van den Bergh (red top) and Morgan Ziervogel (white top) paddle away.

Article reprinted from:  http://comarochronicle.co.za/134511/new-surfski-craze/  Photo credits to:  Gauteng Canoe Union.