Florida Paddleboarder Missing

Search continues for a paddleboarder missing off the coast of Florida since Christmas Eve.  The missing paddler has been identified as 51-year-old John Frye of Fort Walton Beach.  

A witness claims to have observed a man on the board in heavy surf behind the boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.  The witness looked away for a moment and upon looking back the man was gone and board was upside down in the water.  

Frye is described as a fit paddleboard enthusiast with experience.   

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - UPDATE: December 25, 10:20 a.m.

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Officials have identified the man who they believe went missing Thursday while paddle boarding near Okaloosa Island.

The U.S. Coast Guard is involved with the search, along with beach safety crews. If you have any information about what happened, please call the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office at (850) 651-7410.

Source:  http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Search-on-for-missing-paddle-boarder-on-Okaloosa-Island-363501961.html

Barry Lewin takes the 2015 Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon

Yesterday saw the conclusion of another exciting Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon with paddlers enjoying the favourable downwind conditions on the day.

En route to compete in the Cape Point Challenge, Barry Lewin of Varsity College/Jeep Team SA took the top position with a time of 54:17.47 in the singles surfski race.

Lewin, who is no stranger to the race having competed eight times previously, said that the 15-knot southwesterly resulted in many smiling faces at the start of the race.

“I had an amazing day out on the ocean,” said Lewin, who managed to make good ground 200m into the race, using the wind to his advantage and surfing at an average of 17km/hour. “A big thanks to the race organisers and sponsors for putting on such a good show. It’s definitely a race I’ll come back to for years to come.”

The race, which was moved from Winklespruit to Wyndham Beach because of the wind, increased in length from the originally planned 12.6km to 15km in total. Undeterred by the extra distance, Zoog Haynes took second position in a time of 55:57.44 and Oliver Burn clinched third with a time of 56:17.12.

Downwind specialists, Bryce Hatton and Marc Stanton, were in their element and easily took the lead in the doubles race in a time of 55:39.70. The local duo was closely followed by Shaun Burgin and Robin Tindall in a time of 57:31.75, with Mark Lewin and Anna Clifford-Arwidi finishing in third spot in at time of 1:01:21.47.

The “first lady” of paddling, Michelle Burn, took the women’s top spot in a time of 1:01:51.15 with Sharon Armstrong taking second with 1:15:52.24.

Michelle Burn   - photo-Anthony Grote

Michelle Burn   - photo-Anthony Grote

The event – held annually on 16 December since 1972 – comprises three main events, organised by the Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club and sanctioned by both the South African Canoe Union and South African Road Runners’ Association. Traditionally, the 12.6km surfski race and the 12.6km long course beach run and walk both start and end at Winklespruit Beach after a journey to Toti Beach. The 4.8km short course beach run and walk goes until Warnernerdoone Rocks before returning to Winklespruit Beach.

The three events started on Wednesday at 9.30am with a simultaneous beach clean-up taking place this year, headed by Kyle Dawson of Wasteman.

“The weather was good with a strong southwesterly wind blowing which made for good downwind conditions that favoured the paddlers, but made things a bit challenging for the beach runners and walkers,” explained event organiser, Neville Hazell of Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club. “But despite this, everyone who attended really enjoyed the experience.”

Hazell said the annual event, held during the height of festive season, encourages both locals and holidaymakers to enjoy the spectacular beaches that the Sapphire Coast has to offer. In addition, he said that the event also gives community members a chance to see Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club in action, with the opportunity of joining.

“There is a great sense of camaraderie within the club and it provides people with the chance to truly enjoy the coastal life,” said Hazell. “We really look forward to continuing this great tradition.”

To ensure the safety of all participants, two rescue boats were deployed on the day with professional lifeguards stationed every 2km of the beach. A 4×4 vehicle was available for support and paramedics also in attendance.

In a further effort to ensure the beaches are at their best, Wasteman sponsored a concurrent beach clean-up with nippers from Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club and Wasteman employees taking to the shores to pick up litter along the route.

“The South Coast has some of the most spectacular beaches and we really want to showcase them at their absolute best which is why we undertook this beach clean-up,” explained event sponsor, Ross Fountain of Wasteman.

The event wrapped up with a prizegiving at Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club with top quality prizes sponsored by XXX

Winkle-Toti-Winkle Sea and Sand Marathon Results

Men’s Singles Surfski Race

1. Barry Lewin – 54:17.47
2. Zoog Haynes – 55:57.44
3. Oliver Burn – 56:17.12

Men’s Doubles Surfski Race

1. Bryce Hatton and Marc Stanton – 55:39.70
2. Shaun Burgin and Robin Tindall – 57:31.75
3. Mark Lewin and Anna Clifford Arwidi – 1:01:21.47

Women’s Singles Surfski Race

1. Michelle Burn – 1:01:51.15
2. Sharon Armstrong – 1:15:52.24

Source:  http://barrylewin.co.za/?p=1469

Marine Surfski Series Ready to kick off 2016

The 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series gets underway on Friday, 8 January but already the province’s top surfski stars are hard at work prepping for the opening race of the ten-leg summer series. With both titles sponsors Varsity College and FNB back again in 2016, more of the same great value and organisation as well as the weekly clashes providing the ideal platform for participants and their families to ease into the weekend, the 2016 edition promises to be yet another memorable one for all.

“The Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series is the biggest of its kind in the world which creates a playground for some of the world's best paddlers and we can’t wait to bring yet another memorable edition to Durban's and the rest of KZN’s paddlers in 2016!” confirmed series coordinator, Barry Lewin.

Barry Lewin

Barry Lewin

“We have some of the best surfski talent in the world based here in Durban that sees each week’s contest a mini-World Champs up front while our hardy regulars enjoy many a ding-dong battle against mates a little further back in the pack each week,” he added. With its popular 8km long course and 4km short course options weekly, the series attracts hundreds of paddlers weekly with the opening leg once again expected to produce a three hundred plus field. “Thanks to the generous support of our title sponsors Varsity College and FNB we will once again be giving the first three hundred paddlers to enter the FNB Surfski Challenge, race one of the 2016 series, a great series shirt. “We have also refined our loyalty programme with all those who complete eight or more of the 2016 series’ races to receive an amazing PFD worth R1200!" said Lewin 2016 will again see the series look to assist two great causes close to the hearts of those involved in the series.

“Through Varsity College’s VC Cares programme, we will once again be giving away a surfski with all funds raised from the sale of raffle tickets going towards the great work that those involved in this programme do! “The Lettie Paddle initiative started by Danica Bartho a few years ago is another organization that has become synonymous with our series and again our pre-FNB Dusi exclusive Tuesday race on Tuesday 16 February will be supporting the Lettie Paddle efforts to raise cancer awareness and funds.”

Up front, the battle is again set to be hotly contested in both the men’s and women’s series title race. Household names the globe over such as Hank McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), Matt Bouman (Epic Kayaks) and Wade Krieger (Herbalife) will look to fend off challenges from Lewin (Varsity College/Jeep Team), Steve Woods, Adam Nisbet, Oliver Burn, Gene Prato and youngster Bailey de Fondaumiere. The women’s clash will again see the depth of Durban’s female paddling talent on display as Nikki Russell, Michelle Burn, Jenna Ward, Kyeta Purchase (all Fenn Kayaks), Donna Tutton, Hayley Nixon (neé Arthur) and Danica Bartho go head-to-head.

The series finale – the Varsity College Surfski Challenge – on 11 March will again double as the year’s South African Schools Surfski Championships where the country’s top junior will battle it out for the coveted national title and the chance to win a bursary to the Varsity College Sports Life program worth R50000. “It has been great to see the growth of the series over the seven years that Varsity College has been involved; growth in the number of participants, spectators and the competition!” said Varsity College's National Sports Manager, Carole Adam. “We have enjoyed seeing the progression of our own Sports Life students from first year to graduation and many are now enjoying successful careers. "We wish the series and all the participants, good conditions and enjoyable 2016 series,” she added.

FNB, back again after a memorable opening involvement with the series in 2015, are also looking forward to another great edition of the popular series. “We are looking forward to yet another breath-taking event as the ‘cream of the crop’ face off against each other in surfski paddling,” Preggie Pillay, KZN Provincial Head of FNB Business. “Our support for the Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series reaffirms our belief that adventure is at the heart of innovation and this is one of many platforms on which we seek to make a lasting connection with our clients!” he added. The 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series gets underway on Friday, 8 January with racing starting in front of Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach at 17h30.



20 Beaches organizer responds to complaints

Brett Greenwood, Event Organizer for the 20 Beaches Surfski race took the time to respond to complaints regarding the recent issues involving the December 15th, event.

20 Beaches 2015

As the Event Manager, I regret the way things panned out at the start of the 20 Beaches on Saturday 12th December. We can understand that it was disappointing for many of the paddlers. But it was as disappointing to us having put so much effort into the planning and running of the race. Rest assured, any lessons we can take out of this we will. There is a Risk Management Plan in place relating to the event and it was largely successful given that there was no loss or injury. That is our first priority. Other parties not under our control also affected the outcome as you will see below. I have listed the unfolding of events to illustrate to you the factors which contributed to the outcome. I do this with humility, not trying to lay blame or deny responsibility. I just want you to understand what happened on Saturday. Shortly after briefing paddlers started heading towards the beach and making their way past the break. Approximately 80 to 100 skis had successfully done this via a channel on the north end of Freshwater Beach. Large waves and possibly a lack of experience resulted in a ski against the rocks and several skis drifting south into the patrol area. The council lifeguard and patrol captain stopped all skis from entering the water as there was extreme concern for the safety of other beach users. We instructed our IRB’s that were loaded with the starting buoys to abandon the buoys and give all possible assistance to any skis that remained in the surf zone. The council lifeguard made it quite clear that if we did not employ all assets to control the wave zone he would deny access and stop the race. After negotiations with the council lifeguard it was agreed that 10 skis at a time could enter the water together and make their way out through the surf. All our IRB’s were then utilised to ensure this was carried out as safely as possible. Whilst this delay was happening the initial paddlers that left the beach earlier took it upon themselves to start a race. I believe these paddlers were fully aware there was no start boat but chose to start anyway. Once all paddlers were cleared off the beach a start line was established with the remaining paddlers and a start gun fired. Following that a start was also given for the Doubles and OC6. There was to be 3 distinct start waves for this race. Wave 1: SUP and All women on single skis Wave 2: All Men on single skis Wave 3: All Doubles and OC6 This was made clear via a newsletter on Friday evening to all online registrations and at briefing on the day. It is clear from the race photos we have been given that SUP’s, Women and some of the Men on single skis all left at the same time. We have no possible way of reliably establishing what time the initial group started or who was in this group so therefore a true winner cannot be established. As race organisers we cannot justify awarding paddlers who do the wrong thing, knowing it is wrong, so to be fair to everyone involved we will not be issuing prize money or results for the men on single skis. The prize money for these categories will be held by Paddle NSW for use at next year’s event. We believe the results for the Women, SUP’s Doubles and OC6 race to be correct, so prize money and results will be awarded to these categories. We will be in discussions over the next couple of months with the view of the start/ finish to return to the sheltered waters of Shelley Beach although this will incur additional cost due to the large council fees involved. Other alternatives will also be looked at. The major thing we believe compounded the problems on Saturday was starting the race on a surf break and the problems associated with it. I apologise to you, the paddlers who paddled the event on Saturday but especially those whose results were affected through no fault of their own.


Brett Greenwood Race Director

Troubles at 20 Beaches---Michael Booth



What Happened?


In this letter I will outline what I think happened on Saturday and why I think paddlers need an explanation. I will also give you my thoughts, ideas and potential outcomes to rectify what happened. Please read below and give the paddling community an answer by 6pm on Wednesday.


“What am I doing this for?” That was the first thing that went through my head Saturday morning. In hindsight I wished I just turned over and went back to sleep. My gut was telling me not to go and I should have listened!


The night before the race after deliberation with many past champions of the event I decided to book my flights. Flights were booked in on Friday at 7:30pm and $100 entry in, just before the cut off at 8pm. Like most paddlers, I was looking forward to travelling away with my mates and participating in a well-run event. It’s been a huge year for me and I have raced most weekends but at the end of the day I wanted to support Australia’s longest running surf ski race. I couldn’t resist.


20 Beaches hasn’t been an event I’ve attended over the years, despite it having great prestige among Australian paddlers (or used to?). After attending in 2012 it left a bitter taste in my mouth after poor management damaged my impression of the event. Growing up in Newcastle each year, many of the paddlers would drive down the F3 to attend what used to be the biggest race in the country. I looked up to all those paddlers from my local surf club and couldn’t wait till I got a shot at it. It was something I really wanted to win, as I got older.


After the event this year many paddlers including myself, were left angry, confused, disillusioned as to what the event has become. We just had to laugh! It was a joke! We all just want answers as to what happened over the weekend and why? I’ve said some things over the past few days that have been very critical of the organisation and management of the event, some constructive and some not. But now 48hrs after the debacle of an event, I have spoken, read and digested what I think happened and we all need to create positives out of this. The biggest thing that irked me after the event was when I was told by you, ‘the organisers’ that “its not our fault” and what I was saying “wasn’t helping”. Well I’m sorry but that kind of response is just plain and simply unacceptable. I just laughed and walked away. Who were you kidding?


I have had numerous conversations with people asking what happened? I really don’t think anyone knows? This is my recollection of events:


Leading into the event everything seemed great. It was well organised with check in, safety, registration and briefing all being very clear about start times and processes. However once we got near or on the water the shit hit the fan. So basically the thing that everyone went there for wasn’t organised aka the start and finish! I was told a paddler alerted you to the fact there was some surf at Freshwater the morning of the event? I also was told the Northern Beaches Lifeguard Service didn’t even know the event was on? And a lady set off her flare and was picked up by a roving lifeguard jet ski’s, as there wasn’t sufficient water safety? Let me know if I am wrong.


After the briefing the paddlers were advised to make their way out, about an hour from the start time of 1pm. The women, sups and OCs would go at this time with the rest 10 minutes later. There would be two pink cans behind the break that would constitute the start area and a beach finish at Palm Beach? Neither of these were the case.


I waited a bit on the grass and went down to Freshwater Beach in the northern corner about half an hour after the briefing. About 50 paddlers were making their way through the 3ft surf. A few paddlers were coming off but it didn’t seem like anyone was in any real danger. If you waited for the sets to come through there were large lulls in between. After about 100 paddlers got out, then everything seemed to go pear shaped. One paddler got swept into the flags in the middle of the beach and the lifeguard tried to stop everyone going out. This was ok, as he seemed to have control. This is when the clubby patrol got involved and all hell broke loose after that.


They launched about 6 IRBs and were yelling at people on the beach. They were zooming in and out of the break creating havoc. It became a circus! After a ten-minute break they would only let 10 people out at a time for the remaining 100 still on the beach. You can only imagine how long that would take… At this time as there were no pink cans out the back, like you advised, and ultimately paddlers had nowhere to hover around. There was also no communication between the organisers on the beach to the pack out the back. So they just started paddling out what could only be assumed to be 3-4km with a media boat following.


Once people start paddling they just go. I’ve seen a few posts about the culture of paddlers breaking the start. And yes it is an issue, however despite me not being in that group this time, I think this race is an exception to that call. I do know for a fact that many of the elite paddlers stopped the pack multiple times telling everyone to stop and go in. However many other paddlers refused to listen. But how can you blame the paddlers out the back? They had no idea what was going on? There was no communication whatsoever? I was probably a kilometre behind them… but how was I to tell them what was going on? I shouldn’t have to! I assumed the organisers would have told them? What about safety? Paddlers being that far out to sea with no water safety is downright dangerous! What’s the point of enforcing safety on the shore if there is no safety once paddlers are on the water? Is it mismanagement? Or was there just no water safety?


I had paddlers asking me what was going on. I had no idea. I was in two minds, do I just hang around or do I just paddle off with the mob down the coast? Do they know something I don’t? I nearly just paddled to the beach and went straight to the airport. There was so much confusion and I’m sure everyone has their own story! But who is to blame? I just floated down the course angry at my decision to go down to compete. But by the end, I was over it. I refused to cross the ‘deep water’ finish line. We were told it was a beach finish?


I believe something constructive needs to come out of this. Otherwise an event steeped in tradition will be lost forever. After this weekend I do not think the current organisers can handle that many people racing or the task of organising such an event. And that’s fine, event management isn’t for everyone but they need to hand it over to someone that can do it properly.


You said you won’t be giving refunds and all prize money will be pushed to next year. Who does that help? No one will be there next year anyway at this rate! Paddlers should be either getting a refund for an event that basically didn’t happen or at a minimum free entry if the event goes ahead next year! Think about the Kiwi’s they would have spent up to $1200 bucks to do the event, or the guys from Perth, $800. What about the QLD & Tasmanians $600? This isn’t just going to go away! Everyone has a bitter taste in their mouth. They all expected to come to a well – run event.


Something constructive needs to come out of this. Whether you as the management of the event sack yourselves or a new event is created? But the paddling community needs some kind of explanation! The sport needs to move forward not backward. The elites, punters and paddlers of all levels need an answer. It was one of the most expensive events to enter and essentially it just became a disorganised training paddle. It’s just not good enough.


The biggest problem coming out in the wash of this event is the lack of communication once paddlers went in the water at the start and after the event. I just can’t understand how an event can be stuffed up so badly? It’s not that hard! The paddling community needs answers. There are no results, don’t bother with that. Tell us why what occurred, happened? And how you are going to rectify your mistakes? Who is to blame? Why there wasn’t a contingency plan? This should all be detailed in an apology to the 250 paddlers who paid money for a service that wasn’t provided. I hope something constructive can come out of this.


We all deserve a response and outcome by Wednesday 6pm.


I look forward to your response,


Kind Regards,


Michael Booth

Source: http://mgbooth.com.au/ocean-ski/an-open-letter-to-the-20-beaches-organising-committee/ 

Dawid and Nikki Mocke-South African Champs!

Dawid Mocke claimed the South African championship at Fish Hoek, South Africa, beating out hard charging Simon Van Gysen for the top spot.  Matthew Bouman came in third, with Sean Rice fourth and Jasper Mocke fifth. 

Nikki Mocke handled business on the women's side.  Bianca Beavitt arrived in second with Kim Van Gysen third, Chloe Bennett fourth and Rebecca Newson fifth.on

Southeast Paddle Series a go for 2016

The Southeast Paddle Sports Series will return for 2016.  Although there was some speculation that organizer John Wellens would be stepping down and possibly folding the series, support from others in the paddling community has Wellens pushing forward for the coming year with the help of others. 

John Wellens   

John Wellens


Preliminary events include:

May 17 - Paddle Jam (by Kayak Trader) 


June 4 - Paddle Bender 


August 6 - Paddle Grapple 


Sept 17 - Tybee Island


Sept 24 - Port Royal Paddle Battle


Oct 1 - Kayak Trader Challenge

A final listing with dates and the possible addition of other races will be announced shortly.

You can check out the SEP series site here:



2015 Doctor Race Report: Hill Put The Mockers On.--Michael Booth

Dean Gardiner

Dean Gardiner

On Saturday, 350 competitors lined up on ski’s, SUP’s, outriggers, sea kayaks and doubles to take on the converted 26.5km Doctor race from Rottnest Island to Sorrento. Athletes and punters alike were greeted with perfect downwind conditions with 20+ knots of fresh SSW wind blowing through from 11am.

Large Field

Large Field

In the Elite Men's Ocean Ski event Gold Coast based Cory Hill cemented his position as paddler of the year in 2015 after taking the win by 17seconds. By doing so he adds the Doctor title to a host of others he has collected this season, including the Molokai World Championships, the ICF World Championships & the World Series crown for 2015. Despite not winning an international event in previous years a few changes to his program and commitments this year have been invaluable. Cory told us "This year has been unbelievable. Never did I think I could win one of the big races. I am so humbled and lucky to have won so many races this year. Everything just clicked. It's been awesome".


Cory fought off a strong field to take the win and the $3000 prize purse. The South African Mocke brothers Jasper and Dawid, looked to be battling for 1st and 2nd for much of the way taking a more direct line to the Centaur Marker off Trigg point(6km to go). Cory took a much further and less effective south route into the Scarborough. However the fast finishing Hill climbed and clawed his way back to the front, paddling past the Mocke’s in the dying stages getting his average speeds up to 20km/hr. It was a great feat by Hill, and by defeating three-time champion Jasper Mocke, and 2010 champion Dawid Mocke he became the first Aussie to win in 4 years.

Despite being in the mix at halfway Gold Coast resident Michael Booth faded to hold on for a 4th. Local Perth boy and hometown favorite Reece Baker finished in 5th. Tasmanian brothers Sam and Tom Norton finished in 6th and 7th with Sydney Northern Beaches resident Mark Anderson closely behind in 8th. Clint Robinson and David Rhodes took line honors taking out the Double race coming in two minutes ahead of Hill.

Women's start

Women's start


In the hotly contested Woman's Ocean Ski event, Kiwi Teneale Hatton dominated the race. She was threatened early by South African Michele Burn however paddled away to take the win by 90 seconds. Since her win at the recent ICF World Championships Teneale has been back in the kayak aiming to qualify for the 2016 Kiwi Olympic Team for Rio. “I went out hard and took the hotspot early on. From there I focused on my GPS tracking to the Centaur mark and focused on not missing a runner. The race was great and the conditions were perfect! It’s a great way to end a jam packed year of racing.” In an all-overseas podium Kiwi Rachel Clarke finished in third. First Aussie across the line was Tash Leaversuch.

In the Elite SUP Sunshine Coaster Matt Nottage was somewhat a surprise package taking the win in the men's 14ft division. He beat the more experienced duo of Gold Coaster Beau O'Brain and Hawaiian based Travis Grant in a tight fought battle. Matt was elated with the victory "I can't believe I won. The other boys were so strong however I held my line further to the south and managed to sneak past them coming into the centaur mark." From there Nottage was able to hold off the fast finishing Grant to take his first cloak and the race record in 2:08:20. In the Woman’s division Central Coaster Terrene Black dominated winning the event by 11minutes from Belinda Stowell-Brett.

Unregistered racers.

Unregistered racers.

Director of the event and paddling enthusiast Dean Gardiner told us he couldn't have been happier with the event "everything just ran so smoothly, everyone was great, there was an awesome vibe and best of all the wind was unreal. The Doctor is held annually in November each year and without our great event and series sponsors none of this is possible.”

Full results can be found on http://www.oceanpaddler.com/results-the-epic-kayaks-doctor-2015/

Pictures from the event can be downloaded from Nick Thake on

http://www.nickthake.com/epic-doctor-2015/nggallery/page/1 or John O’Sullivan on


2015 Doctor-Hill and Hatton!

2015 start

2015 start

Cory Hill did enough to reverse places with Jasper Mocke from the previous weeks West Coast Down Winder, taking first place at the Perth Doctor with a time of 1:33:40.  Mocke  came in  17 seconds back with brother Dawid Mocke on his heels at  11 seconds behind.  

Michael Booth and Reece Baker round out the top five.

Teneale Hatton Continued her winning ways as the new ICF World Champion did enough to get the "W", with Michelle Burn finishing strongly at 2 minutes back and Rachel Clark taking third.

Tash Leaversuch and Rowan Coghill respectively placing fourth and fifth.

2015 North Shore-Chuck Norris wears a skirt and paddles a K1.

The North Shore race presented by Elite Ocean Sports, held on Lake Marion annually each fall has begun to take on it’s own unique character.  

Unlike many other races in the region that tend to feature a variety of paddle craft, the North Shore is dominated by the Surfski, and more specifically, high performance skis. This is by design, as organizers have specifically focused on “creating the most competitive surfski field in the Southeast over a challenging course with an intermediate distance that is attainable for most surfski paddlers, but long enough for elite level paddlers to have a competitive race”.

Held in the small town of Santee, South Carolina, the race is a bit of an anomaly. It is relatively close to Charleston, but is held on a lake in a small town about an hour north.  According to organizers, the laid back atmosphere of the venue was exactly what they were looking for.  The effect could be seen clearly; with paddlers leisurely hanging around, talking and relaxing in lounge chairs. The feel was reminiscent of a family reunion that was interrupted by a brief white knuckle, no holds barred throw down, only to resume it’s slowed southern style immediately following.  Also unlike many other races, the North Shore truly begins the day before the actual race, with the epicenter occurring at the North Shore Condos hosted by Mark Smith of EOS. It is here that incoming paddlers will converge for amazing food and drink in a pre-race hangout session with random paddling from the nearby beach, a clinic by Jesse Lishchuk and even some light mountain biking.  This is a money race, and outstandingly, all categories were represented with money and or bling, including fast sea kayak and commensurate cash for the ladies.



- Men's overall: Top 3 prize money and a $300 winner take all hotspot sponsored by Stellar Kayaks at the 3 mile mark.

- Women's overall: Top 3 prize money and a $200 winner take all hotspot sponsored by Think Kayaks at the 3 mile mark.

- Men's FSK: $100 winner take all prize sponsored by Surfski Syndicate.

- Women's FSK: $100 winner take all prize sponsored by Surfski Syndicate.

- Men's OC-1: $150 winner take all prize sponsored by Winning Health Sports Medicine.

- Women's OC-1: $150 winner take all prize sponsored by WomenCAN International.

Additionally, Ocean Paddle Company generously awarded a Vaikobi PFD to the first place finisher overall in the 6 mile, Mocke accessories for 2nd overall, and a Geigerrig hydration system for 3rd.


The 2015 Cup promised to be one of the best editions so far. The event was moved back to the relatively warmer month of October, while maintaining distances of 20 km with a 10 km option.

Top paddlers from the region and beyond were on hand including: National Champion Austin Kiefer, National Marathon Champion Jesse Lishchuk, Olympian Mark Hamilton and former East Coast Champ Reid Hyle.

In a strong women’s division, last years winner and former sprint National Champion Pam Boteler returned to defend her win against regional top paddler Kata Dismukes, Olympic hopeful Alex Mclain, and among others, paddler powerhouses Sara Jordan and Hype Mattingly.

The competitive field allowed for the women’s race, in a refreshing change, to be scheduled to start separately from the men, which proved an interesting dynamic.

The venue features the bipolar and formidable Lake Marion, sometimes placid, other times as chaotic as the ocean.  The course follows a northeast route about 100 meters off the shore for about four miles before turning (generally) downwind for about six miles and then turning back towards the finish.  The six mile stretch provides the most interesting drama.  It is here that the long fetch of the lake funnels it’s winds from the nearby Atlantic and creates conditions that can get a little complicated.

Some went swimming

Some went swimming

The start was sounded and the herd of paddlers were blasting out at full speed for the hole shot.  After taking an early lead, Jesse Lishchuk forfeited his lead to Austin Kiefer, who wisely hopped on his wake, only to come around and pip him at the three mile money mark.

Furious start

Furious start

After turning the buoy, the conditions grew worse. The washing machine was in full effect as the advantage fell to the most adept at handling conditions.  No matter how stable one is on their boat, experience in these conditions were essential to a good finish. Several paddlers with less experience pulled out at this point,with others taking the occasional swim.

In the end it was Austin Kiefer finishing with a blistering time of 1:23:53, Reid Hyle coming in behind at 1:27:33, Jesse Lishchuk third at 1:29:16, former olympian Mark Hamilton at 1:33:40 and Flavio Costa at 1:34:47.



Hamilton showing Olympic form

Hamilton showing Olympic form

In an exciting women’s race, Mclain took the three mile hot spot, followed by previous winner Pam Boteler with Kata Dismukes tight on her wash.  After the buoy turn, Boteler fell into some trouble and eventually abandoned as did Hype Mattingly. Mclain struggled to keep her K1 upside as Sara Jordan came around for first through the long stretch of open water in a more stable (and borrowed) Think Evo. Rounding back to the final stretch, it was the chronically sweet and cheerful Alex Mclain sliding by Sara Jordan for a hotly contested first. Channeling her inner Chuck Norris, she piloted her K1 boat and made an absolute mockery of the choppy conditions. Due to her extensive surfski history,  Mclain was able to keep things moving enough to pour it on at the end and finish strongly with a time of 1:43:01, followed by Sara Jordan at 1:44:22 and Kata Dismukes at 1:48:22.

Afterwards, racers convened at the nearby pool for awards and more food and drink.

Relaxing post race 

Relaxing post race 

The North Shore carries on the tradition of bringing together top shelf racers for a great time, camaraderie and competition.  Looking forward to an even better 2016 as the Elite Ocean Sports crew eye raising the stakes higher for prize money; which will undoubtedly continue to draw out elite competition.

For Alex Mclain's Northshore race blog:  http://mclainwaves.blogspot.com/2015/10/north-shore-cup.html



With the craft on the barge, registrations closed, and briefing completed the excitement for The Epic Kayaks Doctor is difficult to hide. This year the race sizes up as race 6 of the Muscle Milk Australian Ocean Racing Series, the Australian Canoeing National Championships and the Starboard SUP challenge. Major brands have really got behind the event this year and its great to see nearly 350 entries for what will be one of the biggest ocean sports races of the year. The race has attracted competitors from across the globe including Hungary, Tahiti, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil and the USA.



The Doctor is the event that all Australians want to win. Although it’s hotly sought after by overseas competitors with Jasper Mocke from South Africa and Rachel Clarke from New Zealand taking the wins last year. It is iconic as it is the only ocean sports of its kind in Australia. The event crosses the Rottnest Channel that separates the mainland of Australia and the Schoolies infested Rottnest Island.


Over 26.5 kilometers competitors will battle it out to decide who will win the famous doctors cloak, stethoscope and signature bottle of wine. The race chases the favored ‘Fremantle Doctor’ trade wind that blows in from 10am most days. The wind swell that it whips up creates some of the best downwind conditions in the world. Tomorrow forecast is perfect, with 20 knots of fresh SSW blowing from 11am. Competitors will get some awesome skates back into the finish, creating what will be a great race at the top end.


The Doctor has a rich history with winners including Jonno Charlmers, Dean Gardiner, Oscar Chalupsky, Herman Chalupsky, Clint Pretorious, Clint Robinson, Tim Jacobs, Dawid Mocke and Jasper Mocke. In the Womans Ruth Highman has dominated, with Michele Eray and Rachel Clark also posting wins.


This years Epic Doctor is set to be a cracker across all divisions with big names in Ocean Ski and SUP turning up for the event. In the men’s event South Africa’s Mocke brothers are looking strong after each taking wins in their starts in the west, over the last week. Jasper completed a hat trick of wins in The Doctor last year and will be looking to make it 4 in a row! Tahiti’s Hiromana Flores has finished up his Outrigging commitments for the year, after winning Molokai OC6, and has jumped back on the ski for the event. The Norton’s are here in force and flying the flag at the front of the pack for Tasmania. The Gold Coasters will be looking to fill up the top ten, with World Champion Cory Hill, Lifestyle Athlete Michael Booth and his good-looking brother Daniel, fireman Mike and U/23 World Champion Mackenzie Hynard making an appearance. Newcastle has also sent there finest with Robo-Cop Greg Tobin and News Reader Sam Djodan travelling the hard yards from the steel city. The Perth contingent is as hot as ever with Reece Baker, Brendan Rice, Daniel Humble and Noodle Graham (who is tipped to take it out according to the local boys!) fighting for a win! Dean Gardiner and Mark Anderson are here to battler it out for Sydney while Michael Baker returns to his home state from Adelaide. Clint Robinson will also make a cameo appearance, with another ex-Olympian David Rhodes on a double, and will be looking to take line honors.


If the pace on Thursday nights Sunset Series race is anything to go by the competition is going to be hot. Last weekends Fenn Downwinder winner Jasper Mocke sat it out to rest up for the big race leaving his brother Dawid to take it out ahead of Sam Norton and Cory Hill. Rounding out the top 8 was Michael Booth, Tom Norton, Reece Baker, Brendan Rice and Hiromana Flores. These guys will be pushing hard to cement a top ten this weekend!


This years woman’s ocean ski event will be hotly contested with current World Champion Teneale Hatton leading the charge. The Kiwis will be once again the ones to beat, with last year’s winner and fellow New Zealander Rachel Clarke also making the trip across the ditch. However they wont have it all their own way with South Africa’s Michele Burn here to make dividends after having much of the year out of competition.


In the Stand Up Paddle Board division the 14ft class is one of the most competitive of the year with all the top Australian guys racing. Travis Grant the current Molokai Champion, and long standing world number 1 this year, will headline the field.  An in-form James Casey has also made his way west from Sydney and will he be able to steal the show after winning the Sunset Series race on Thursday? Or will seasoned racers like Jake Jenson, Matt Nottage and Beau O’Brian take the win? In the Female division Terrene Black will headline a small but quality field of women racers.


Race start will be determined by wind tomorrow, so anytime after 11am the gun will go. The top men and women ocean racers will have trackers on there skis and can be followed by this link… http://www.igtimi.com/races/8962


All results will be posted on http://bluechipresults.com.au/results.aspx?CId=11&RId=785


May the wind be ever in your favor


West Coast Down Winder- Mocke takes the win.

Jasper Mocke 

Jasper Mocke 

The West Coast Downwinder was run and won over the weekend and despite lackluster downwind conditions it turned out to be a great afternoon for all involved. The event lived up to the pre-race hype and paddlers were greeted with calm, hot, flat, grind conditions for the 17-kilometer event. Over 100+ paddlers took to the start line and a blistering pass was set early on.

Top competitors held under 4:20 pace the whole way sharing leads down the course from Swanboune to Sorrento. It was a tight battle up front, with a pack of twenty belting out from the start. This was quickly dwindled down to eight after three kilometers. This included Cory Hill, Jasper Mocke, Dawid Mocke, Michael Booth, Mark Anderson, Daniel Humble, Michael Baker and Reece Baker.

At 5 kilometers, Dawid broke off the group to head closer to shore with the other 5 choosing to stay out wide, approximately 200 meters from the beach. Near Scarborough Michael Baker dropped off the pack after leading the train early on. It was then down to 4.

Cory and Jasper looked the most comfortable out there and really pushed the pace the whole way. Michael Booth fell off the group with about 2.5 kilometers to go after forcing his way back on the train multiple times.

Soon after, Reece Baker also lost the lead group and it was a race in two, with 1.5 kilometers to go. Cory looked to break Jasper 1km out, however, Jasper fought back to take the win by a nail-biting three seconds. Michael Booth and Dawid Mocke snuck around Reece in the dying stages with the heat and conditions really getting to him. Michael Baker finished in a strong 6th place, closely followed by Brendan Sarson and Mark Anderson.

Hill and Mocke Tight at the finish   

Hill and Mocke Tight at the finish


For Jasper it was his first race win of the calendar year and at the presentation he was excited to get the monkey off the back, 'it was great to win this event, especially with in form guys like Cory Hill and Michael Booth racing, it makes it that bit more special'. Cory who has established himself to be the man to beat all year told us that he ‘felt really comfortable out there the whole way and despite not winning "I am feeling good for the doctor next week".  "Lets hope there is some wind! Its looking awesome!’ Michael who snuck a third in the dying stages despite Reece and Dawid being hot on his heels told us 'I was happy to hang on for as long as I did. It was super hot and flat out there. I haven't had a great preparation for this event so I’m stoked to steal third from Reece in the dying stages'.

In the hotly contested over 40’s Greg Long took the win, ahead of Michael Dobler and Justin Farrelly. In the Junior Geriatrics Dean Gardiner scraped over the line in first, ahead of Shaun Rice and Robert Jenkinson.

Booth in Third

Booth in Third

In the super masters (60’s) it was global travel sensation Muz Latham, ahead of Norm Miller and Robert Hodge.

In the woman's race it was a battle in two between New Zealands Rachel Clarke and South Africa's Michelle Burn. Burn and Clark went off together early on but at the 10km mark Rachel broke away and went on to take the win. After the race Rachel told us 'It was great having a win today, Michelle is such a great paddler, so I knew it would be a tough battle. This event is a great lead up to next weekend!’ Natasha Leaversuch was third across the line only three minutes behind the international stars. In the over 40’s Aimee Christie had a win and in the over 50’s Julie Jenkinson took the honors. 

The next two events are the Sunset Surfski Series this Thursday and The Epic Doctor on Saturday. Wind is looking great for both events!

For full results of the West Coast Downwinder click below


High Temps

High Temps

McGregor and Russell take the Dragon Run

Hank McGregor took the win, completing the 24 km Hong Kong Dragon run course in 1:32:20, followed by Sean Rice at 40 seconds back with Adrian Boros finishing in third.

Nicole Russell was first female with a time of 1:54:37.  Camille De Carmejane finished second with Katerina Vichou coming in third.

Solid turnout with 179 paddlers lined up to race with a great downwind push.


There’s only a small number of paddlesports events that are truly revered. Once such event is the “Marathon International des Gorges de l’Ardeche” in southeastFrance. When I first read stories of this event decades ago I promised myself I would one day attend. That decision was reinforced time and time again by stories, video and images over the intervening years between then and finally getting to participate this November. Having now participated, I can tell you that the Marathon International des Gorges de l’Ardeche lived up to every bit of its hype and reputation.

Rising from the Massif Central in central France, the Ardeche river carves thru the Ardeche Gorges on its way towards its confluence with the the Rhone. The 20 mile Ardeche Gorges features vertical limestone cliffs over 1000ft high, including its most famous feature, the 200ft Pont d’Arc, a natural limestone arch under which the river flows. This ancient gorge has played a pivotal roll in the areas cultural and economic development for thousands of years. Not far from the river the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave was found in 1984 containing the earliest known and best preserved cave paintings in the world, as well as other evidence of Paleolithic life dating back at least 30,000 years. In more recent history, Neolithic dolmen tombs dating back to 3000BC are erected through out the gorge and the river also flows past the ruins of the leper colony of the Knights Templar dating back to the 12th Century and the Crusades. A paddle thru the Ardeche Gorges is truly a paddle thru history. The Ardeche River itself is a beautiful class 2 wilderness run with pristine water quality and dozens of springs cascading into the river. The rapids are characterized by the iconic limestone cliffs that touch the waters edge to create boil lines, undercuts and typical wave trains with strong eddy lines. No wonder the gorges are a hugely popular tourist attraction during the Summer months.


The mass start Marathon International des Gorges de l’Ardeche marks the start of the new season for most paddlesports competitors. Consequently many countries use the event to kick start their training and the event brought teams from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, USA, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Great Britain, Portugal, Holland, Spain and Croatia to participate in hundreds of boats ranging from 9 man canoes and OC-6’s, ICF K1’s and surf skis all the way to recreational whitewater boats, making the total participation approach 1500 or more. In attendance were Olympic Gold medalists, World Champions, National Champions and many more legends across multiple disciplines most of whom where competing in K2’s, making it the most competitive class.

Arriving at the river just a few days before the race, I grabbed all the borrowed equipment we’d rounded up and jumped on the river in the late afternoon with a couple of the best French K2’s. The river was high and right at race cut off levels, but was expected to drop over the coming days. I was assured that I didn’t need to know where the take out was as the K2’s would catch me up in short order. So I pushed off into the gorge alone to explore the unknown in the rapidly fading light. An hour in and the K2’s hadn’t caught up and gorge was being rapidly enveloped in complete darkness. Thankfully I had seen a couple of YouTube edits and knew that there was a bridge somewhere downstream. 30 minutes later and it was completely dark, cold and I was running into whitewater I was having to run blind in my tippy borrowed racing kayak. As soon as I saw the first signs of civilization I pulled over and waited and waited and finally the K2’s floated by explaining that they had had technical difficulties themselves and that we were just a kilometer above the take out. I didn’t get to see much of the gorge that first paddle but found a great deal of humor in the situation now that I was warm and dry. Over the next few days we banged out additional training runs as the levels continued to drop and the gorge took on a different feel with every run.

Race morning and there were hundreds and hundreds of boats warming up above the start. Turning around and avoiding collisions where real concerns. Then the countdown began and seemed to go from “trois minutes” (3 minutes) to “allez” (go) in just seconds. My high school French had failed me as I totally missed the start finding myself several hundred meters behind the start line. It was total chaos behind the line with everyone trying to get going. It was hip to hip with the throngs of racers and to make matters worse, some competitors found themselves flipping, turning and even facing upstream as the mass pushed downstream. The once placid pool at the start turned into a sloshing mess of moving waves bouncing us around as we tried to get going. In these situations you need to be the aggressor and push forwards thru the mess and that was the story of the rest of my race and I moved thru the field over the next 20 miles, only getting passed by a couple of folks. It was hard to take in the splendor of the gorge under these circumstances but as the race unfolded it became easier to look around and enjoy the circumstances. About 15 minutes from the finish I even thought about slowing down to maximize my time in the gorge as I was having so much fun chasing people down.

The Marathon International des Gorges de l’Ardeche lived up to its hype. The combination of scenery and beauty wrapped up in one of the largest mass start river races in the World in a social and fun atmosphere was hard to beat. This race is truly iconic.

It would not have been possible to have pulled this week off without the support of several friends on he ground in France. The Beauchard family (Francois, Maria and Emmanuel) where invaluable resources setting this up and helping us thru some language road blocks with the race organizers. Their hospitality in Vallon Pont d’Arc and Lyon was amazing and I owe then a huge debt of gratitude. Thanks to Canoe & Kayak Lyon and World Champion, Quentin Bonnetain for the equipment we borrowed to race. And finally, thanks to the international paddling community that opened their arms and welcomed us to come play with them in this incredible location.

source:  http://chrishipgrave.com/

Hank McGregor Named KwaZulu-Natal Sportsman of the Year

Pietermaritzburg, 17 November 2015 – South Africa’s canoe king, Hank McGregor (Jeep Team), was named KwaZulu-Natal Sportsman of the Year at the 2015 KwaZulu-Natal Sports Awards ceremony in Durban on Saturday, 14 November.

Award winners were decided by a panel of KZN sports experts based on their achievements over the last 12 months. Judges included Bongani Yengwa (SABC Sports Analyst and Sports Management lecturer at the Durban University of Technology), Zwelakhe Ngcobo (Isolezwe Weekend Sports Editor), Vicky Masuku (UKhozi fm Sports Broadcaster) and Tommy Ballantyne (freelance journalist).

McGregor pipped two other finalists of the Sportsman of the Year award; swimmer Chad Le Clos (Olympic Gold medallist, Commonwealth record holder in the 50 and 100-metre butterfly and 2014 award winner) and triathlete Henri Schoeman (ITU World Cup winner and African triathlon champion).

Said McGregor“I am absolutely stoked to win this award against such a class of athletes. Le Clos and Schoeman are ferocious sportsmen at the top of their game in highly competitive sports. Congratulations to them for their massive achievements. They make this award all the more serious to win.”

McGregor has proved unstoppable over the last 12 months, winning numerous international and national titles across different paddling disciplines, including surfski, flat water and river canoe marathon, and canoe sprints. His achievements include claiming his sixth World title at the 2015 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Hungary, winning the Maui Jim Molokai World Surfski Challenge in Hawaii, and successfully defending his K2 national title at the South African Flatwater Canoe Marathon Championships.

In July, McGregor became the first person in history to win the tough 240km Berg River Canoe Marathon for a record tenth time. He is also the current holder of the World Paddle Awards’ ‘Sportsman of the Year’ Award.

On Saturday, he added to this glowing list of achievements by winning Race#5 of the 2015 Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series. Soon after the race, he left for Hong Kong, where he will be competing in the Dragon Run surfski challenge, which takes place on 21 November as part of the World Surfski Series.

Said McGregor“I’ve got the Dragon Run in Hong Kong next weekend before I come back and race Ozzie Gladwin Canoe Marathon, the 50 Miler Canoe Marathon, South African Surfski Champs and the Cape Point Surfski Challenge in the weeks after that, so I’ve got some pretty big weeks of racing ahead of me!”

Source: http://www.jeepteam.co.za/hank-mcgregor-named-kzn-sportsman-of-the-year/

Pete Marlin Surfski Race 2015 ---Barry Lewin

Furious start

Furious start

Written by Barry Lewin 

As I wipe the sleep out my eyes this morning I cant help but have this warm, fuzzy feeling inside, and a big grin from ear to ear. Flashes of an awesome weekend flood in, a father and son road trip, 2 cracker downwind races as well as connecting with the paddling community from around the country, what more can one ask for?


The Pete Marlin really is my favorite surfski race in SA for a number of reasons so packing the car on Thursday got the blood going for sure.

My dad and I have a lot in common as we both have a passion for the ocean and surfski racing. We organized to take the trailer of Durban paddlers boats down to the race and treat the weekend as a bit of father son time. What a blessing it is, to be able to hang out with you old man, talk kak for many hours on the road and share war stories from the trip on the way home. Its not something I take for granted and hope to be doing more trips like this in the future with the “Bullet” as he is affectionately know. Old, but still fast on the water or to tell a story (my word can he talk).

The racing kicked off quite early on Saturday with the singles World Series Race. The course was a 22km paddle from Orient Beach to Yellow Sands in some really fun SW conditions.

The protected start Orient Beach gave the paddlers a very fair start and 2 bunches were formed early on. I lead out the one on the inside with Jasper Mocke going out to see to find more swell with a couple paddlers following him. I learnt a lesson on this course last year how important the first 20min is. I battled to get going in 2014 and simply couldn’t catch up. The goal was to be in the mix in the first 5km to Nahoon point.

The first 10min of racing is quite flat in the protection of the harbour but very soon the tail of my Fenn was being lifted by a run and I was able to glide from 1 run to the next. Conditions turned out to be “PERFECT”, with small fast runs providing some really nice technical connections between them. The angle was the same as a SW in Durban and this familiarity got me into a rhythm with the runs really quickly.

Pushing hard early I managed to get away from the paddlers in my bunch of Wade Krieger and Steve Woods. This was a nice confidence boost as Wade has really been going well in Durban and thought he would be a threat on the day. It was hard to tell where other paddlers where, as we passed through the B, C and D batches who had gone off before us. I however knew Jasper Mocke (3rd at World Champs) would be strong on the outside.

The race went by so fast with the runs being so much fun. Linking one to another it was hard to think I was actually racing and asked myself at times, “is racing really meant to be this fun?”. It went so fast that I was surprised to look up to notice I was passing one of the points I use as a marker some 5km from the finish. With more awareness of the finish line I could see Dawid Mocke some 150m outside me and knew I was in with a shout if I could hold my speed.

Coming into the last km to Yellow Sands Point it was run for run with Dawid on a wider line. I missed 2 runs tacking out to get around the point and that was the difference, Dawid nailed the line to the surf zone and turned 2 runs ahead, to take the win. I don’t think I made any mistakes but Dawid was just that good and deserved it. Dawid drove out to check the finish the day before and his homework had paid off.


The race was now on for 2nd and Jasper Mocke had come in from a deep line and showed amazing skill catching a wave passed me and down the rocks. The wave took him right up to finish just behind his brother Dawid in 2nd. I scratched in for the last step of the podium in 3rd. This is a great result for me in a strong field of paddlers from around SA.



Barry Lewin coming into the beach.

Barry Lewin coming into the beach.

The training for worlds and loosing some weight has certainly helped in getting me in the mix on the racing recently. It is very motivating and I plan to keep up with the little things I have changed that have worked so well this year.

The second day of racing was the doubles on the same course. I jumped in with long time friend Steve Woods, who I have never paddled with before. We didn’t have any expectations with not having any time in the boat together but with another nice SW blowing we were excited about the fun downwind on offer.

We got away well with Jasper Mocke/Dom Notten (also a new combination) but the danger pair of Dwaid Mocke/Tom Schilperoort (a seasoned crew just having done Fish together) had gone out very hard further out to see.

The first 10km of the race was very hard with very small runs and no rest, climbing over the one in front all the time. Jasper again went out to see to find more swell and we started to chase Dawid/Tom. We held them for the first 20min but soon their strength started to show and they put on a 200m lead at 5km to go.

The runs improved in the last 10km with some much better speeds. We started gaining back some time but it wasn’t enough with Dawid/Tom taking a well-deserved win. Just like the singles, the race was on for 2nd, and this time it was Steve/myself who got a wave at Yellows Point ahead of Jasper/Dom taking us into 2nd.

All the paddlers at the event had a lot of fun on and off the water. It has to be one of the best-organized races I have been to. As I said in my speech at prize giving, there are 2 real standouts at the Pete Marlin. Firstly the people of the town in East London have to be the coolest bunch of hospitable people you could meet, they really rock. The second being the sponsors who back the event organizers, allowing them to put on such a good show. Thanks to all for the awesome weekend.

Big thanks to the Atkinson family for the home stay. Again in 2015 you opened your home to my dad and I. Gary you are awesome!

Well done to Charl Van Wyk (legend race organizers and king of the spread sheet) for all you do for the sport. I will be back for many years to come.

Next up for me is the Fenn Cape Point Challenge in December. Not my favorite race but an exercise in building some base for next years racing. Wish me luck with some base miles over the next month.

source:  http://barrylewin.co.za/?p=1417

Dawid Mocke and Nikki Russell Claim Pete Marlin Wins.

Dawid Mocke took a narrow victory while Nikki Russell claimed top honors in the womens category today as the World Surfski Series stopped at the Pete Marlin Surfski Race in East London, South Africa.

Mocke finished the 23 km course in 1:15:41 with Jasper Mocke coming in at less than 19 seconds behind. Barry Lewin rounded out the top three at just 33 seconds behind Jasper Mocke.

Nikki Russell completed the course with a solid 1:30:47 as Jenna Ward placed second at 1:34:04 while Donna Tutton finished at third with a time of 1:36:03.

Full results:


dawid mocke.jpg

Bruce Gipson and Lee McGregor set paddling record

Kayakers set record paddling from Bimini to Hallandale

Some people travel by speedboat or plane to cross the popular passage between Broward and the Bahamas.

These guys took a kayak.

Bruce Gipson and Lee McGregor kayaked 54 miles from the Bahamas to Hallandale Beach in a record-breaking eight hours and seven minutes.

Not bad for two men in their 60s.

They left Bimini at 5 a.m. on Nov. 1 and arrived in Hallandale Beach at 1:07 p.m.

Traveling in a 39-pound tandem surf ski that's 24.5 feet long and 19 inches wide, they set the record for crossing the Gulfstream by human power. The crossing is a common one taken by boaters in all kinds of power vessels, but rarely human-powered vessels like a kayak.

Gipson, 61, lives in Boca Raton.

McGregor, 64, spends time in Stuart each year with his sailboat, but hails from South Africa.

"They're machines for their age, for any age," said Kyle Shea, who manned the 27-foot support boat that set their course. "They did an awesome job. Just watching those guys go, they were machines. I got tired just watching them."

Gipson, a retired Miami Beach firefighter, set the record 31 years ago, traveling by kayak solo. He was 30 at the time. It took him 11 hours and 46 minutes to paddle from Bimini to Fort Lauderdale.

McGregor, a former South African Olympic coach, agreed to be his paddling partner last year after the two took first place for their age group in the 12-mile Masters Marathon race in Oklahoma City.

On their journey, they came across no sharks and few boaters.

Their biggest obstacle: seaweed.

"There was a lot of seaweed on the east side of the Gulfstream," Gipson said. "The rudder can catch the seaweed. We had to stop and pull the weeds off."

The last few miles were the hardest, Gipson said.

"I lost five pounds in eight hours," he said. "We could barely stand up."

That night, he celebrated with a mug of Magic Hat No. 9 beer and a dolphin dinner.

He has no intentions of tackling a third run.

"This is it for me," Gipson said. "Two is enough."

sbryan@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4554

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel




2015 Chucktown Showdown: Sitting down at the stand up showdown

Click to view all data

Click to view all data

It's not often these days that I get a chance to race here in my hometown, or anywhere for that matter, so I was excited to see the buzz building from the regional surfski crowd in the week leading up to this year's Chucktown Showdown. Not wanting to miss out on lining up alongside a nice little surfski field 15 minutes from my front door, I quickly re-arranged my work schedule for race day and reserved my spot.  

On race morning, paddling around during my "warmup", which mostly consisted of me informing Chattanooga's Ted Burnell of his poor boat choice and apparent desire for swimming lessons, I was glad that I'd managed to make it out. The surfski field was small but solid, with several strong paddlers putting in more serious looking warmups.  Unsure of my form after missing large chunks of paddling time over 6 of the previous 8 weeks, I assessed my chances and set myself a goal of a top 5 finish.   Whether or not I could get above that would depend on course conditions, which could potentially be challenging, and thus beneficial to me.

The 14 km course fell into 3 sections, which would guide my race plan.  The first 4 km proceeded towards the battery along the Ashley River, a section that would be most likely flat, but depending on boat traffic, had the potential for reflected chop off the battery wall.  The next 6 km took paddlers into the open waters of Charleston Harbor, making a wide circle around Castle Pinckney, an island military fort from 1804, before heading back up the Ashley 4 km to the start/finish line.  The tide would be coming in the entire race, but didn't appear to be overly strong on the day. More importantly, the wind was out of the NE and picking up, which could make the harbor section of the course favorable.

Doing my usual poor job of lining up at the start line, I found myself in the second row sitting behind several of the main protagonists and pinned in by an OC2. This actually didn't really affect my plan, as I didn't want to start out too fast or strong over the first 4km on flat water against the tide.  My strategy was simple:  keep the fast paddlers in my pack in sight over the first 4km, hope that conditions in the harbor would swing things in my favor, and then make a final charge 1-2 km out.

Two paddlers I didn't have to worry about were regional powerhouses Eric Mims and Chris Hipgrave.  Eric and Chris go head to head in their Epic V14s a few minutes in front of the rest of us at every race they show up at, and today would prove to be no different. My goal with Eric and Chris; don't be lured into trying to pace them at the start.  

As the gun went off, Eric and Chris charged away, followed closely by strong TN wildwater paddler Terry Smith, competing in his first surfski race in his V10 Ultra, and my regular training partner Mark Volkmann in his 23lbs Huki S1-X 2G. Xavier Comelli, also in a V10 Ultra, followed them closely, tagged by Laurens Willard, who is an even match with me just about every time we hit the water together.

Early on I was a few lengths off of Xavier and Laurens, trying to ease myself into the race.

Passing thru the first km I had gradually moved my Think Uno Max Elite up alongside Laurens' V12 Performance, and Xavier slipped behind us as we started to get in rhythm. Ahead, Chris and Eric seemed to have found their stride, just ahead of Mark V, who had put a solid 50m or so on Terry Smith.  Terry was the wildcard, and he looked strong, with a solid stroke, some 50m in front of Laurens and myself. I took up pacemaking duty and told Laurens we should try and hold Terry at this distance until the harbor entrance and then we should be able to catch him. The plan worked to perfection. As soon as we rounded the battery wall in the open harbor, conditions changed, with a 2/3 angle side chop developing, I could see Terry's pace and stability fall off. Laurens and I moved on him side by side and quickly left him behind.  

Ahead of us I could see Eric and Chris, still together, heading out somewhere into the harbor.  There was supposed to be 2 buoys out in the harbor for us to make our right turns at, but I couldn't see them.  Turned out that the buoys were both yellow, and though they were of a decent size, the color did not show up well in the morning sunlight. The benefit of not being a leader meant I could simply watch what direction the leaders went out front and follow... or so I thought.   

Between us and the two leaders was Mark V, who was taking a more easterly line to the buoy around 250m ahead of us. Though we'd kept Terry in check, Mark's lead on us had increased and our work was cut out for us to catch him. I train with Mark regularly in Charleston Harbor, so I knew that though he's faster than I am on the flat and in small chop, in rougher chop and downwind conditions Laurens and I would have an advantage. This would prove out over the next 5km. Once we found the first turn buoy and turned East to head parallel with the harbor shipping channel small swell began setting up. Laurens had beaten me to the turn and gained 25m on me as I slowed while he turned and he started picking up small runs immediately. I was able to match him, so we stayed that way, all the way across to the next buoy.  Mark V meanwhile began struggling a bit with his stability and I could see him missing runs, as Laurens and I lopped nice chunks off of his lead run after run.

Following the runs I was looking for the turn buoy when suddenly I could see Eric Mims heading out into the middle of the harbor towards a stationary power boat. Was the boat the buoy? Chris did not seem to be following but also didn't seem to be moving. Behind, we all hesitated and a brief status quo was formed as we tried to decipher the course.  Soon, we could see Eric turn around short of the boat and head back to Chris, who had found the turn buoy and, sportingly, waited on Eric. With that, run chasing resumed.

As we reached the turn buoy, still 25m apart, Laurens and I were now less than 50m away from Mark. The small runs had cost him and he continued to struggle in the 2/3 diagonal swell coming from over our right shoulders. I moved purposefully to the right, hoping to catch a few diagonal runs heading back into the Ashley while Laurens charged straight ahead, bearing down on Mark V.  My strategy worked as I caught two successive runs and cut the distance to the other two more than half. Another small swell I was within 2 boat lengths of Laurens, who had caught and was pulling past Mark V when Mark suddenly capsized.  Laurens and I both stopped and waited to make sure Mark remounted safely, then started paddling again once he was back on his Huki.  A final surge as we passed the entrance to the battery and I was sitting on the tail of Laurens' V12, with Mark V gathering himself 10m behind.  

Up front Eric had pulled clear of Chris as they left the harbor and was heading for home, pulling out to a 35" margin by the finish. Another impressive display by two excellent surfski paddlers, who seem to bring the best out of each other. Behind us, a similar battle had formed for 6th place between Xavier and Terry in their V10 Ultras, and they would cross the line 2" apart, with the edge going to Terry.  

Seven minutes ahead of Terry and Xavier, our finale played out. Back on the flat Mark V moved ahead again and pressed his advantage. Laurens briefly tried to hold his wash but could not, sliding back to me again. Laurens and I paddled side by side for the next 2.5km, unable to make any headway on Mark, who seemed to stop gaining and sat 80m in front of us. Around 1km left I kicked hard, making one final run at Mark V.  Laurens could not respond and would lose 36" over the final km.  As the finish neared, so too did Mark, but in the final 100m it became clear that my effort would come up a few meters short, and I shut off the gas over the final few meters cruising in 10" behind my training partner.   

Overall it was a great day on the water on a varied course, with several strong paddlers making for a fun time. Hopefully next year, we can increase the number of surfski paddlers, as it's a great course and a well organized race that's well worth adding to the calendar.

2015 Chucktown Showdown Surfski Results:

  1. Eric Mims (Epic V14 GT) 1h12'57"
  2. Chris Hipgrave (Epic V14 Ultra)  1h13'32"
  3. Mark Volkmann (Huki S1-X 2g)  1h17'37"
  4. Mark McKenzie (Think Uno Max Elite) 1h17'47"
  5. Laurens Willard (Epic V12 Performance) 1h18'23"
  6. Terry Smith (Epic V10 Ultra) 1h24'22"
  7. Xavier Comelli (Epic V10 Ultra) 1h24'24"
  8. Waylon Willis (Epic V10 Ultra) 1h25'13"
  9. Darren Crozier (Epic ?) 1h25'34"
  10. Tom Smith (?)  1h52'10"

--Mark McKenzie