Ever have that dream where you're flying?

When it comes to ski porn, everyone has their own take on what constitutes capturing the perfect downwind.

Overlaying dubstep, syncing some rock or just letting the sound of naked carbon cut down a wave are the most commonly used formats.

But what Peter Morgan is doing over in the Mid-Atlantic is set apart. Peter seems to have an uncanny way of creating an ethereal dreamscape, replete with haunting soundtrack set against pulsing water and a silhouetted paddler transcendentally dancing with the waves.                

 It's a strangely hypnotic effect.

Thanks for the contribution!

http://www.valkyriedownwind.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Recap---The 2016 Dragon Run

Big showing for the women's division

The 2016 Hong Kong Dragon Run has been Run and won by South Africa's Hank McGregor in the men's event and New Zealand's Teneale Hatton in the women's event. Both victories were hard fought affairs.

Hank and his new V12 at the start at Clear Water Bay

The paddlers woke up on race morning with the good news that the wind had been blowing at a steady 12 to 15 knots all night out of the East North East. By the time the race started this had risen to 15 to 18 knots out of the North East which is the perfect wind for this race. 

When the gun sounded it wasn't long before two distinct packs formed on the way out to the Ninepins. Dawid Mocke led the charge on the left while a group containing the Rice brothers, Matt Bouman, Cain Eckstein and Cory Hill were on the right-hand side. 

After the first 3kms, it was Australian Iron Man and pull up world record holder Caine Eckstein that showed the way. This was his first ocean ski race in three years and part of his preparation for his tilt at the NZ Coast to Coast this coming February and, hopefully, another tilt at the Coolangatta Gold next year. 

Meanwhile, in the women's event, it was Teneale that led out from defending champion Nikki Russell, Rachael Clarke and, the emerging talent, Hayley Nixon. 

By the time the first competitors got to the Ninepin Island rounding mark, after a tough 7km grind across the slop, it was Hank and Cory covering each other's every move and getting first use of the runs. Following closely behind was Sean Rice from Matt Bouman, Dawid Mocke and Caine Eckstein rounding out the top six. 

While in the women's it was a hard fought affair to the first mark with all the main ladies within touching distance of one another. 

The downwind section can be a bit tricky for the uninitiated with swell and wind chop seemingly going every which way. For the experienced Dragon Run paddlers it was what we wanted and it provided a fairly direct line to the second mark - The Kissing Whales. 

Hank and Cory diced backwards and forwards on slightly different lines but ultimately arrived at Kissing Whales at the exact same time.  Cory told me he knew he was in for a torrid time in the last 4km with the World Marathon K1 champion but gave everything he had. The lead changed a couple of times but with about 2km to go Hank dropped the hammer and forged what was to be the winning margin of 18 seconds. 

Hank was extremely happy to come away defending his title in what was probably this years most competitive field. He now heads to the Doctor in Perth to try and claim about the only piece of silverware missing from his crowded trophy cabinet. 

Sean Rice paddled well, as he always does at the Dragon Run, for a fine third while 40 year old Matt Bouman showed he still has amazing speed for his fourth placing. 

Men's Top Ten

1 Hank McGregor - New Epic V12

2 Cory Hill - Fenn Elite S

3 Sean Rice - Think UNO Max G3

4 Matt Bouman - Epic V14

5 Dawid Mocke - Fenn Elite S

6 Caine Eckstein - Fenn Elite S

7 Kenny Rice - Think UNO Max G3

8 Jasper Mocke - New Epic V12

9 Austin Keiffer - Fenn Elite S

10 Ian Black - Fenn Elite S

Men's Top 7

The Ladies race proved to be every bit as competitive as the mens with Teneale Hatton holding off a late charge from Hayley Nixon. Hayley was closing the gap ever so slightly however the finish line came too soon and it was Teneale who secured a memorable win by 33 seconds. 

The race for third and fourth was also an absolute beauty with Rachael Clarke holding off Jenna Ward by a mere 3 seconds. 

Last years defending champion Nikki Russell couldn't find her groove on the day and finished a couple of minutes further back in fifth. 

Ladies Top Five

1 Teneale Hatton -  New Think UNO 

2 Hayley Nixon - Carbonology Pulse

3 Rachael Clarke - Epic V10L

4 Jenna Ward - Fenn Spark

5 Nikki Russell - Fenn Spark

Ladies Top 3

A big congratulations must go out to the race committee for putting on another well run event. We had the best men and women on the planet racing in what is a great test of your all around abilities.  

The Dragon Run is an important event in trying grow our fabulous sport throughout Asia. We had competitors from China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and of course Hong Kong from the Asian region and a host of paddlers from all parts of the globe making this a truly international race. 

To all our sponsors a massive thank you. As any race organizer knows we can't do it without their help. 

So to next year and the ICF World Surf Ski champion will be crowned on this course. We look forward to welcoming everybody from around the world to what should be a defining event for Surf Ski in Asia.

Full Results  

Epic Kayaks Releases New V 12

Epic Kayaks have released an update on their V-12 model with a clear directional change towards enhancing big water performance.

The following design statement from Greg Barton was released explaining the redesign:

Even though the Epic V14 has been very successful in major, openwater events (including 3 Molokai victories), our team riders expressed the desire for a surfski that is more nimble in the runs. So we added a significant amount of rocker, reconfigured the cockpit to give a dryer ride, moved the rudder forward for more control and added a hint of extra stability to give full confidence when it’s time to lay the hammer down."

Think Kayak Release Updated Line-Up For 2017

Think Kayak have released their 2017 line-up.  The current crop features a retooling of several models from intermediate through high-end ski range.

Evo

Evo

EVO--- The flagship of the Think line will be sporting a new svelte form for the upcoming year.  The volume has been lowered and cutaways at the paddle entry have been enhanced  to increase catch effectiveness.  Debrito closeable bailer replaces previous Venturi model. The hump in the cockpit has also seen a reduction.  

Ion

Ion---The Ion has witnessed a more dramatic departure.  Rocker has been dramatically reduced as well as chines. Creating a sleeker more stable looking version of it's former self. Other adjustments mirror the Evo, with cutaways at the catch, reduced hump, Debrito bailer and lowered volume.

Uno Max

Uno Max---Latest incarnation features a tweaked hull and rocker profile with a slightly widened bucket. Debrito bailer as well.   Hull modifications are aimed at increasing stability and wave performance. 

Little Sister

Uno---Low volume counterpart to the Max.

 

http://thinkkayak.com/

ACA Approves Surfski--- Will Be Included In Program

The oldest sporting organization in America has adopted the Surfski into the fold.  The American Canoe Association board of directors have unanimously voted to include the surfski within the program. 

This is a significant step forward for the ski in many ways, not the least of which impacts the potential to greatly enhance popularity.    

 

Kenny Howell, back from the 2016 ACA National Paddlesports Conference reporting on the session:

ACA Chief operating Officer Chris Stec (l) and Kenny Howell (r)

 

The ACA committee for Safety, Education and Instruction (SEIC) unanimously approved our proposal for surfski as a unique discipline within the ACA! This is a great leap forward, and I could hardly contain myself these past few days. It opens up so many new possibilities for the sport we love, and we will soon be able to offer ACA sanctioned surfski skills courses, assessments, and instructor certification workshops. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen every day. We had an excellent team composed of several ACA instructors and instructor-trainers from across the USA who helped craft the curriculum and instructor criteria. The heavy lifting was done by Chris Hipgrave (GM of the Nantahala Paddlesports School, ACA whitewater instructor and surfski competitor), Ben Lawry (ACA multi-discipline Instructor Trainer and competitor in many paddle disciplines), and yours truly. At the final committee meeting, which was open to all ACA members, I read the attached letter of intent to help explain our reasons for pushing for a new discipline. We showed Joe Glickman’s movie about surfski as I read the letter, which was a nice touch as it forced the audience to watch the movie instead of staring at me while reading the letter!

Letter of INtent, page 1

Letter of Intent, Page 2

The ACA Board of Directors still needs to sign off on the surfski discipline, but this appears to be a formality. Some admin details and finishing touches remain before we can move forward, but we are well on our way! In the long run, I believe this bodes well for surfski in America. It will help grow the sport safely, and now we have a voice within a great organization. The ACA is America’s oldest sport organization, founded in 1880, with thousands of members and dozens of affiliate clubs nationwide! It’s mission includes not just paddlesports education and instructor training, but environmental stewardship and protection. Other disciplines within the ACA umbrella include River Kayaking, Coastal Kayaking, SUP, Rafting, Prone Paddling, and of course Canoeing.   
Photo by John Dye: ACA National Paddlesports Conference. Surfski Educational session.   

Photo by John Dye: ACA National Paddlesports Conference. Surfski Educational session.

 

Looking forward to a healthy dialogue on surfski education with all our paddling brothers and sisters.
Paddlers ready!
Kenny Howell

 

Top-Tier Paddlers Ready for the Dragon Run Tomorrow

2015 Podium--from left: Adrian Boros, Hank Mcgregor, Sean Rice

The far East is clearly in line with the rising worldwide popularity of the surfski, as well over 100 ski paddlers are currently registered for the Hong Kong Dragon run set to take place Saturday, November 12th.  

The 24 km long course is set as the money race. With $4,500 purse for the top male and female athletes.

This year's event has all the makings of a true world-class smackdown, as top paddlers: Sean and Kenny Rice, Dawid Mocke, Jasper Mocke, Cory Hill, Patrick Dolan, Sam Mayhew, Mackenzie Hynard, Austin Kiefer and Barry Lewin have all signed on to have a go. 

Dawid Mocke

Not to be outdone by the men, the women have brought out the big guns as well, with Jenna Ward, Teneale Hatton, Nicole Russell, Rachel Clarke, Angie Mouden and Hayley Nixon all ready to leave all out there to be the first to arrive att the finish.   

Jenna Ward

The HKDR has shown increasing participation among elite paddlers and is increasing its' stock as a go-to event for many. With the addition of a solid purse and unique location, the race  is poised to continue it's upward trajectory in the coming years.

Check back soon for race results.  

2016 Dragon Run Preview

The Hong Kong Dragon Run has a rich history of delivering world class winners. Names such as three time winner Dawid Mocke, two time winners Hank McGregor and Tim Jacobs as well as Sean Rice and Shannon Eckstein have their names engraved into the Gold Dragon Trophy. 

This years running of the event is sure to add to that impressive resume. 

Last year saw a clash of dates with the West Coast Downwinder in Perth which made the worlds elite have to make a choice between Hong Kong and Perth. With The Doctor, one of the worlds most prestigious ocean ski races, running the following weekend most chose Perth as their destination. This year the Dragon Run committee wisely moved the event to one week prior to avoid the clash. This gives all paddlers from near and far a chance to compete in three world series races on three weekends in a row in our time zone.

Adding to the incentive to make the trip to Hong Kong is a new sponsorship from China Silver Asset Management. This years prize pool is a minimum of $20,000 USD with $4500 USD for the winner of both the mens and ladies events. 

The 2015 Dragon Run turned into a two horse war between Hank McGregor and Sean Rice. Both had previously had their name etched on trophy and in the end it was Hank taking the title by around 40 seconds in conditions described as the best the race had seen. 

Hank and Sean battle it out just inside Kissing Whales

Hank and Sean battle it out just inside Kissing Whales

Podium 2015. Adrian Boros, Hank and Sean

Podium 2015. Adrian Boros, Hank and Sean

This year will be a much tougher assignment to stand atop the podium. Major names that have already committed themselves to this years race include -

South Africans -  Hank McGregor, Sean and Kenny Rice, Dawid and Jasper Mocke, Barry Lewin and Oscar Chulupsky.

Hank has been dominating again this year (whats new!!) winning just about everything he enters from Surf ski to K1 to river racing. The man is a competitive beast and it would take a brave person to bet against him winning here again this year.  

Dawid Mocke has enjoyed some great success this year. He won the Canadian SS title and made off with second place at the Nelo Summer Challenge. Younger brother Jasper also won in North America taking home the Gorge Trophy.

Sean Rice, meanwhile, has been globetrotting around the world spreading the surf ski message via his Paddle Life Clinics and picking up victories here and there with his most recent win being a dominating exhibition of surf ski paddling in the Dutch Coast Race.

If the conditions on the day are anything like last year don't discount Oscar from being up the pointy end of the placings. 

The top Aussies entered include Cory Hill, Caine Eckstein, Macca Hynard, Dane Sloss and the evergreen Tommy Woodriff.  

Cory has been in red hot form himself the past 18 months. The reigning ICF World SS Champion will be very hard to beat and in fact at the major races he has contested the only man to have beaten him is Hank. Apart from, that is, Molokai this year when leading by a good margin with only a few kms to go he got a bit close to the wall and ran aground damaging his boat unable to finish.

Caine Eckstein will be out to try and emulate his older brothers success from 2009. Shannon Eckstein is arguably Australias greatest ever iron man and when he decided to take part in the Dragon Run of 2009 won the race. Caine is no stranger to the top step of the podium either with an impressive resume in Ironman racing. He is a five times winner of the prestigious Coolangatta Gold, has won a Kellogs Nutri Grain Series and is, quite simply, an amazing endurance athlete. 

The other Aussie who has been "on the burst" lately is Tommy Woodriff. Now in the 40-49 age category he has been winning races against the younger brigade around Sydney and placing close up in the top three of four at the major Aussie races behind the likes of Cory and Jeremy Cotter. The guy has got some chops and will be in the mix coming to the finish line.      

A couple North Americas best ocean paddlers, Austin Kiefer and Pat Dolan, are racing as is one of the finest French paddlers, Benoit Le Roux. Throw in Kiwi Sam Mayhew and the top 15 looks to be super competitive. 

Mean while in the womens event this could be one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the Dragon Run. We have last years Dragon Run champ Nicky Russell along with fellow SAFFAS Jenna Ward and Hayley Nixon. The Kiwi pair of Teneale Hatton and Rachael Clarke will be out to make their mark as will Mauritius Ocean Classic winner, Australian, Wendy Reyntes. All these ladies will have the French star Angie Mouden to keep them honest. 

Teneale Hatton
Wendy Reyntjes
Nicole Russell
Angie Mouden

What we do know is that to get a win at the Dragon Run you have to bring your A Game. Its a 23km test of your all around paddling skills that has three distinct parts to it. 

(1) The start in Clear Water Bay out to the Ninepins. A seven km section where you are punching across and slightly into the prevailing swell and wind. You can get some assistance from the rebound off the cliffs at Clearwater Bay

(2) Ninepins to Kissing Whales. A twelve km downwind section that is where most of the elites will try to make their move. In the prevailing North East monsoon it is a true downwind section that is a lot of fun.

(3) Kissing Whales to the finish line at Stanley Sea School. A flattish four km grind to the finish line. If you are side by side with another competitor at this point it boils down to who has done the most training or who has the bigger heart. There is no place to hide. 

Good luck to all competitors taking part and may the wind blow. We will be back after the race with a comprehensive round up of what went down and all the talking points. 

The Surfski Asia Team. 

Chattajack Divisions Defined

Kayak or Surfski?  If you’ve ever signed up for the Chattajack as a double bladed paddler, you’ve had to answer this question during registration.  For many, this designation is easy, but for others it can be a bit more complicated.

 

Having a look at race classifications abroad can get even more complicated, as different regions can’t seem to agree on which categorical system to use.

 

The first thing to understand is that by and large, boat category is determined by hull dimensions.  The topside of your craft is generally irrelevant.  Although weight, position and setup are important, length and width of a boat are by far the most important factor in determining the potential for speed in a craft.

Surfski ---open deck

 

The most widely recognized system in America is the Sound Rowers classification method, which relies on precise measurements of hull length and width to arrange a generally fair and simple system as follows:

 

High Performance Kayaks/Open class - This is almost all 18+ ft long kayaks (depending on width) plus some shorter boats like ICF K1's and wildwater kayaks.

Fast Sea Kayak class - Too long or too narrow (or both) to fit into sea kayak class. Too short or too wide for HPK.

Sea Kayak class - Starting at 14.1 feet in length up to approx. 16-17.5 ft in length depending on width.

Rec class - This is anything at 14 ft or less in length, period.  No width data is needed.

SS20---Fenn Bluefin:  19.35 feet long X 20.86 inches wide

 

In some areas, an “SS20” class is added to this system as well.  SS20 or Surfski 20 denotes a surfski design with a width of 20 inches or more, effectively separating true Sea Kayaks from Surfski’s.

 

In the Gulf region, a “K1” spectrum is the standard.  This system utilizes a wide array of categories, representing about any form of boat, determined on hull dimensions rather than topside:

K1 Bite                 ≤ 10′                N/A                  

K1 Short              10’1″- 12’6″      N/A                  

K1 Medium          12'7"-15'6"       ≥ 22″              

K1 Long               15’7″-17'6"       ≥ 21″               

K1 Fast                ≥ 17’7″             ≥19'6"            

K1 Race               Unlimited         ≤ 19'5″        

*(K1 Race) Skinny surf skis and Olympic K1 boats

Gulf Area Action at the Big River Regional---Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

And still some, like the Chattajack and the Shark Bite Challenge, have only two classifications---Kayak and Surfski.
 

Chattajack race director Ben Friberg has received some questions regarding this matter and has clarified the intent to loosely follow the Sound Rowers guidelines.  He wanted to keep it simple, so he has used the two class system to denote the surfski as all high-performance craft (width less than 20 inches) and kayak to encompass all the rest including fat surf ski's 20 inches or wider; Similar to the Shark Bite Challenge classification.

Leave this at home.

 

For Chattajackers, one word of caution, Friberg strongly advises against “rec style” boats entering the race for obvious reasons. Yes, this is a great bucket-list event if you've always wanted to have a go at an Ultra Marathon distance, but your chances of being pulled after missing the time cut are almost assured, and with a race that sells out as quickly as CJ, you’re likely using up a spot someone else could have had.

Friberg

Friberg also warns that “A rec boat would also be a massive headache on a day when Mother Nature isn't happy.  On those days you want every advantage you can give yourself.  We haven't had Mother Nature truly test us on a race day yet.  It will happen eventually.”

So, if you’ve had trouble deciding which category you belong in, here is your answer.  If you are in any craft that has a width of less than 20 inches, you should be registering in the “surfski” category.  This is for all high performance designed boats regardless of the top deck.  It includes high-performance Sea Kayaks, Surfski, Wildwater boats and ICF K1 sprint and marathon boats.

 

If your boat is 20 inches wide or more, regardless of whether it is a “surfski” or “kayak” you belong in the “Kayak” division.  

 

This is a very simple method which really keeps things easy and fair. It wouldn’t be much fun racing a fourteen foot Necky against an ICF sprint Nelo Cinco would it?

Kayak class?

 

Examples for Surfski division:

Wildwater Boat

Elite Surfski---Think Uno Max

ICF Sprint Kayak--Nelo

ICF Sprint Kayak--Nelo

Westside Thunderbolt---Distance Racing Kayak

Others:   

Epic: V14, V12, V10L, V10, V10 Sport

Think: Uno Max, Ion, Evo

Stellar: SES, SE, SEI, SR,

Fenn: Spark, Glide, Elite, Swordfish, XT

Westside:  Thunderbolt, Marauder, Dark Starr

Vajda: Hawx, Hawx 46, Next

Huki: S1-X

Nelo: 560 series

Almost all K1 and Wildwater

Examples For Kayak Division:

Nelo 520 (yellow)----560 in blue 

Epic V8 and Think Fit

Stellar 18r

 

Epic: 18X, V8, V7, V6, V5

Think: Ace, EZE, Nitro 

Stellar: S18s, S18r, S16, S14

Fenn: Bluefin

Vajda: Oscar, Raptor

Nelo 520

Westside EFT

All Sea Kayaks from 14-foot length or more