The West Coast Downwinder, sponsored by Fenn/Oceanpaddler is back again this year and looks to be bigger than ever. The event also doubles as the 4th race of the Muscle Milk Australian Ocean Racing Series. The 24km paddle starts from Port Beach Fremantle, with competitors then paddling with the favorable ‘Doctor’ trade wind, up the coast to Sorrento. With $2500 on line honors and a total prize pool of $7100 a great number of athletes from the east coast and overseas have made the trip. Paddlers eye off this event as a great lead up to the prestigious Epic Doctor next weekend. Unfortunately the forecast is looking horrendous with organisers looking to shorten the course due to the high heat and slight easterly winds predicted. This could mean the race is now 15km and starting from Swanbourne SLSC into Sorrento SLSC.
The WA boys & girls usually have the advantage in this race, as they know the coastline so well. Chasing skates over their left shoulder all year round usually creates a massive advantage. However this could mean nothing if its hot, offshore and flat. This is where the true grinders will come out to play!
In the Woman’s race it looks to be a race between Kylie broad, Rachel Clarke, Ruth Highman and Jamie Roberts. Ruth took the race last year by 3 minutes and will be definitely the woman to beat, with the home ground advantage. However a Kiwi may steal the show with Rachel Clark flying over for the event. After taking a third at the recent World Championships and multiple podiums throughout North America this year, it could be her day! In the hot flat conditions you cannot count out Jaime Roberts, with her current program ramping up ahead of a busy kayak season. Kylie Broad is fresh from Worlds in Tahiti and after racing well over there she could be a formidable force over the weekend.
Well it may sound like a broken record, but in the men’s race Mr Cory Hill will once again be the man to beat. He has already wrapped up the World Series and is on his way to wrapping up the Australian Ocean Racing Series over the next couple of weekends. Despite having never won a race in Perth he will be looking to do just that!
The South African Mocke brothers, Jasper and Dawid, have been coming over to Perth for many years now and are bypassing the Hong Kong Dragon Run to race in Perth. Jasper is the reigning champion for the Doctor and also last years World Series winner. After placing third at the recent World Championships in Tahiti he has definitely hit his straps, after a somewhat slow start to the year, by his standards.
Dawid is one of the most experienced paddlers out there and has featured at the top of the podium in so many events over the past 15 years. Despite not winning any of the World Series events this year, he is always dangerous and will be one to watch.
The event also brings out the best of the west coast paddlers including Brendan Rice, Dean Beamont, Reece Baker and Brendan Sarson. These boys are deadly in the big stuff and know the trade wind like the back of their hand. However with the flat, hot conditions forecasted will they be able to stay on the train and fight the hard battle? Brendan rice has the kilometers in his arms after competing in many of the South African river races over the winter. And also won the Avon decent this year. Reece Baker is always at the pointy end of the field in any race in WA. He came in a close second, behind Michael Booth in this race last year. Maybe this will give him the fire he needs to take the win this year? Rumor has it he is back in the kayak chasing the Olympic dream in the K1 200m? Brendan Sarson is a WA boy through and through and after years of racing at the elite level and being the world’s muscliest human, he will be one to watch on Saturday. The evergreen Dean Beamont may be 40+ but he never seems to be far from the front, so keep your eyes on the old stalwart.
This guy may no longer reside out west, but Michael Baker will be making the trip from his new home in Adelaide. Baker has been bashing out the kilometers and loves the grind. He hasn’t raced much this season due to work commitments and will be out to prove a point this weekend.
Other east coasters include Dean Gardiner, Mark Anderson, and Michael Booth who are all flying over for the week of paddling. Deano is currently leading the charge in the AORS however it may be short lived, as he has been the only one to compete in all the events so far. Ando is flying over from Sydney and word has it he has been a training machine, unmatched in his dedication and refusing to see mates. Keep your eyes transfixed, as he will be one to watch on Saturday. Lastly Michael Booth is making the trip. The guy doesn’t know what sport he wants to do at the moment but is always lurking about the podium. Word has it he got injured and hasn’t been training a whole lot, but we all know he loves to fox!
Good luck to everyone racing! Should be a great spectacle.