2018: Year of the Dog



2018 has arrived! It is raining in California, which hopefully means my brown grass will change to a nice shade of green. And more importantly, that NW wind will start blowing so that I can do some downwinds!

2017 went by in a flash, and I have sadly realized that the older I get, the faster time flies. Staying focused these days is tougher than ever, the addictive nature of social media and the increased access to information seems to derail any well planned day!

Leaving behind the rigidity of an Olympic Training Schedule, and having the “freedom” of working for myself again, has definitely tested my self restraint and discipline in new ways.

My 2018 resolution is to have more “real” time, face-to-face conversations, genuine friendships and be more resistant to distractions.

Mostly just be better than I was yesterday!

Some highlights of the past year:IMG_20171208_111313.jpgOpening a new business – Paddle California, which aims to spread the stoke of surfski by growing paddling sports in California, and around the world! We aim to achieve this through world class coaching and education,  laying the foundations of great technique for beginners, and providing the worlds best (and self-tested & approved) equipment. We are the West Coast importers for Nelo, and a total highlight was exceeding our hopes by bringing in 3 containers for 2017!

Visiting Yosemite for my birthday 🙂

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Seeing the Florida Keys (and enjoying a couple days off after some Olympic Presentations and Coaching Workshops).


Being back in my home country South Africa for the Canoe Marathon World Champs (not our best race but always good to line up with the fastest in the world). And of course seeing our buddy Jenny Egan go on to win a medal! Been training with her since she a lightee!


Taking Maggie down her first river (my favourite river in the world – the Fish!)


And of course doing a few Miller’s Runs (with all the internationals post-marathon worlds).


Paddle California got a VAN! Spent many hours fixing it up to be the perfect mobile office/delivery vehicle and of course surf trip camper!

And finally, went to Hong Kong for the ICF Surfski World Champs. Not my best day out, battled in the flat water (the wind did not come through as hoped) and never really felt good. The wind came through the next day for possibly one of the best downwind competitions for the men’s race, kind of felt a little (LOT!) cheated by the weather gods! After missing 6 months of water time with a torn tendon, my base was only really starting to come back, but definitely needed the downwind if I was ever to be in contention. A bittersweet end to the year’s racing.


Looking back is always fun and it reminds me of how fortunate I am to live this life. I am super excited about 2018, and all the fantastic plans we have for Paddle California and some last gasp racing related travel planned!

Thanks for reading and all the best for 2018!

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Winter is coming…


Well that was a long break from posting!

I actually changed my cellphone number, and forgot to change it on WordPress, effectively blocking myself out of my own website…

The year sure has flown by. I have so much to be thankful for. After the excitement and intensity of the Rio Olympics, I took a few months to travel – in South Africa – and used the time to set up my next venture – Paddle California.

Paddle California logo final PNG

I started the business just over a year ago with Maggie Hogan, who I had the privilege to coach leading into Rio. Our main goal through Paddle California is to bring the stoke of paddle sports to more people. California, and in particular, Southern California where I am now based, has so much water opportunity, and to see the sport grow here would be awesome! With LA2028 around the corner, there is a lot of good vibes around bringing the Games back to the area, and SoCal is the perfect place to train year-round.

We are the West Coast dealers for Nelo (world class kayaks, canoes and surfskis), Knysna Racing Paddles, Gara Racing Paddles, Mocke Paddling gear, Downwind gear, Vaaka and Funky Pants. We also coach both in person at our Paddling Workshops, from our home base in SoCal, and via our remote Online Training Plans. We have a few exciting ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space!

Check out www.paddlecal.com for more info.

We also started a surfski school program out of the Newport Aquatic Center, and are loving introducing new people to the sport!

After a 6 month break dealing with an elbow injury, I have managed to get some training going again, and my main race for the year being the ICF Surfski Worlds in Hong Kong in late November.

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Thanks for following, and be sure to check out our Facebook page to see training tips and more 🙂

See you on the water,

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Along with some pretty incredible people, I have been nominated for a World Paddle Award in the Foundation category. You can find out more by clicking on the logo above, and you can also vote for me, or any of the amazing nominees, by clicking the Facebook “like” button or the big “thumb’s up” at the end of the article.

The voting ends on November 20th, and the winners get to attend the awards ceremony in Portugal in February next year. The World Paddle Awards (WPA) is a fantastic concept and the event is held annually, “celebrating the most remarkable men and women from the world of paddlesports along with their achievements from the previous calendar year.” Click on the image below to find out more about the WPA.


Since the Olympics has come and gone, I have been hard at work setting up the next exciting venture. Our business Paddle California, which also has MultiCoach operating under the PC umbrella, has some fantastic offerings in the works. More on that to follow.

Here is a post I wrote about the incredible women of Team USA at the Rio Games, which makes for an interesting read! (click on image below)rio-blog2-3







I am in South Africa at the moment. So fantastic to be home, especially with the craziness of Spring. Been a while since I was home this time of year, and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Out with an injury, so unfortunately missing out of all the great races I planned on doing (Fish, Pete Marlin, Cape Point Challenge etc) but glad I am here where I have some great rehab people!

I forgot how good the food here is, and am having to do a LOT of trail running to keep the balance 🙂

Thanks for reading, happy paddling!

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Going Full Circle, 11 days to go – Rio Olympic Games, & some SurfSki updates


In 11 days time, I will be attending my 3rd Olympic Games. I am super stoked to have come full circle, after competing in 2008 for South Africa in the Women’s K4 and K2 events (making the final in the K4) and then being in London with Bridgitte Hartley (my K2 partner from Beijing, I helped her by being a training partner in the lead-up to London 2012 where she medalled in the WK1 500m event) and now going into the Rio Olympics as Team USA Olympic Coach to my athlete, Maggie Hogan.

It’s kind of cool seeing the sport from so many different angles, and I am very excited about this next phase of my career. It’s 11 days until the opening ceremony, and we have a lot going on before then!

I was just in Portugal (possibly my favorite country!) I was just recovering from my jetlag (we were there in June for the 3rd Canoe Sprint World Cup – where Maggie got a silver medal in the 5k) and all of a sardine-tin found myself back on a plane heading across the globe.


Maggie silver medal World cup 3 WK1 5000m (please note my Rio themed-board shorts!)

I can’t say I was upset at having to return to Portugal… Great wine, pastel de natas and cooking downwind! The Nelo Summer Challenge is one of the best events on the World Series, and is also an ICF World Cup race.


Thanks Macca Hynard for the cool photo!

As usual, Andre, Marisa and all their team staff put on a spectacular event. The wind delivered and we had great conditions for racing.

Schoogirl error on my part cost me my 5th NSC title, as I casually jogged up to the finish line not realizing that Angie Mouden had caught up to me as I played it cautious through the surf zone. Great race Angie, and good to see some younger talent coming through.


I managed to sneak a last-minute trip to Hood River for the Gorge Downwind Champs. Strangest thing, doing a downwind on a river! A lot of fun, and we caught a good day of cracking wind on Thursday and again on Saturday. Unfortunately race day (Friday) was pretty flat, and didn’t quite go how I would have liked. Teneale Hatton showed her strength on the flatwater to paddle away from the women’s field to take the win. Great to see so many good female paddlers from all over the world taking part (NZ, Australia, Spain and USA).


Yes, those are Zebra print paddling pants! (Slipins)

The whole team behind the event, led by Energizer Bunny Carter Johnson, put on a great few days. Seamless downwinds with a daily, repeating shuttle, a beer garden, and great food all made for a fun break!

And now the countdown begins, we leave in a week, and I am very excited about being a part of one of the largest and most successful Olympic teams in the world. (Underneath my Team USA t-shirt my blood is green, and I am also super excited about seeing my other team mates go out and perform on the world’s greatest sporting stage!)


Go Team USA & Team South Africa!

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2016, already!


Amazing how fast time flies when you are having fun!

I have to admit that I have been super slack on the blog posting front, and can only put it down to too much water time, and a lot less laptop time 🙂

Since my last post, I got to experience possibly the best Euro-Trip I have ever been on! It started with the World Sprint Championships in Milan, Italy. I was there as Team Leader for Team USA as well as coach for Maggie Hogan. I’m proud to say that Maggie raced a phenomenal K1 1000m to get the bronze medal, and in doing so, became the first podium finish by a US citizen at a Sprint World Championships in 2 decades.

It was my first World Sprint Champs as a non-athlete, and with all the meetings, running around and late nights working, I can honestly say that it is a way better experience as an athlete 🙂

From Milan we flew to Porto for the 2015 Nelo Summer Challenge. As usual, Andre, Marisa and the crew at Nelo put on an event not to miss! Add this one to your calendar folks! (July 8-10th, 2016). Great location (hotel on beach where race finishes), fantastic Portuguese food, and of course, great Nelo service with regards to the boats and setup. I got to play around in the new 560, and I can’t wait for mine to arrive! *(Update, mine has arrived…awesome…blog post to follow)

After the event, Maggie and I hopped in with the guys from Santander, and drove North to one of the best kept secrets in Spain! Johnny, Pablo and all the guys at the Santander club made us feel so welcome that we ended up staying a few days extra! What a beautiful place, with loads of great paddling, surfing and mountain biking!

After renting a tiny little car, we zooted up the coast towards the beautiful San Sebastien, and ended up in Biaritz. Unfortunatly no surf, but a lot of great sightseeing. After a whirlwind tour, we headed to Bourdeux, home to a 400 year old bakery, and of course, wine country! No place for a surfski on the rental, so the lack of training was made up by tasting the local wines and cheese 🙂


From there it was on to a part of Spain I had not seen before, the whole Costa Bravo coastline. It was really beautiful and sunny, and too short a visit, I’ll have to go back! From Barcelona airport, we headed to Budapest and onto Gyor for the 2015 Canoe Marathon World Championships.

Before the event could start, a day trip to Vienna bumped up our tour to 5 countries in 2 weeks. It was not without drama (aka a parking fine and challenges to our navigating skills to try and find the traffic police station!)

Gyor was the venue for my first ever marathon Worlds, way back in 2007 when I won a bronze medal with Nikki Mocke. We had just qualified for the Beijing Olympics and this was the last thing we felt like doing! It ended up being a really great experience (the medal helped!) The course actually flooded away that year, leaving us with no portages and a very sore butt after 25km’s!

2015 was the polar opposite, with probably the lowest water for our event, forcing the bunches to ride almost single file, scraping along the rocks at the river bank.

Despite the whirlwind travel schedule, and lack of proper training build-up, Maggie and I raced to a 4th place (my 4th fourth place at Marathon Worlds now…), the best placing by a USA marathon team.

After the event, it was Budapest by storm. I really love that city!

After a few weeks back in the US, it was time to head across the Pacific to Tahiti, for the 2nd ever ICF SurfSki World Champs. With the lack of available ski’s, the women’s race ended up being held on the Friday, and the men’s on the Saturday.

Having a separate start was great, you could identify/recognize who was in your race, and if you were in the lead, you actually were in the lead 🙂

I had a solid race, and am happy with how I paddled knowing how much I afforded to put into my preparation this season. I knew to hold off a strong flat-water paddler like Teneale Hatton, I would need at least a minute lead after the downwind leg and coming into the final 3km stretch of side wind. I did what I could, but I don’t think I had put enough of a lead in. Getting chased down is never a fun feeling, but it’s a consolation to know that I got caught by the 1000m world record holder!

After a week of living the island life, we caught a plane to Bora Bora, and then a boat to Taha’a, to take part in the 46km crossing that is the Maraamu SurfSki Race. Nothing quite beats an ice cold coconut water after a grueling paddle, and the private island lunch/swimming/chilling-with-your-new-mates experience afterwards was one of my favourite parts of the summer tour! Mosole puts on a truly special event, one I will push hard to get back to! Stoked to be able to reverse the finish order of Worlds the week before, and get a race win at this place of dreams! (my 2nd in this event). Well done to everyone who finished this toughie (but goodie).

Tahiti is such a special place, and it comes through in the awesomeness of the locals! Thanks to Johann for hosting us and looking after us so well! You are such a talented guy and it was great getting to know you.

That pretty much sums up the racing part of 2015.

Thanks to everyone that still supports me in achieving my dreams! I am stoked to be able to travel the globe, spreading the good vibes of open ocean paddling!


See you on the water,

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North American Surfski Cup


These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel!
PAG 2015
I left Oklahoma City with Team USA to travel to Toronto for the Pan American Games on July 5th. With a relatively small team to look after, I still had my hands full.

It’s been an adjustment to move to “the other side”, but in a way it is a lot more rewarding looking after others than yourself, and I am fully enjoying the transition on the sprint side.

My multi-tasking skills are improving too, as noted by above photo taken while cycling, timing and coaching!
I unfortunately missed the 1st of the surfski races, the Canadian Champs, and instead headed straight to Hood River for the Gorge Downwind Festival to race 2 events – the North American Championships and the Wild Side Relay.

hood river race
What an amazing venue for a race (or a holiday!) The river is warm, and the wind blew every day. It’s a strange sensation to be doing a downwind, on a river, against the flow, and in fresh water!

I had a great race, taking the lead about 2km in. Teneale Hatton (NZ) took a shallower line, and was a little behind me most of the way. I hit the last 3km, the wind died a little, and the runs went flat. Having the world’s fastest 1000m paddler hunting you down is a little daunting, and with about 1km to go she caught and passed me! Well done Teneale!

Here is a video taken by Carter of the last few flat and grindy km’s. (Thanks for the video, and the shouts of encouragement!)

The whole event was put on by Carter Johnson, who did an amazing job! From the crazy bus to shuttle us to a downwind every day, to the great food and beer, I can’t think of a reason to ever miss this event! Carter had a super team of helpers, including the wave-queen, Judy Jensen, and a number of volunteers. The event was in aid of Rivers for Change (http://www.riversforchange.org/)
The standard of the women’s event was nice and high, with some internationals making the trip out, including 2 Kiwi’s (Teneale and Rachel), an Aussie (Rowy), a South African (Samantha) as well as some local US Paddlers (Maggie). There is nothing better than seeing growth not only in numbers but depth of talent too! Let’s keep the momentum girls!

podium hood river

Women’s Podium

On the 2nd last day, I teamed up with Maggie Hogan to do the Wild Side Relay, which consisted of 4 legs of roughly 8-10km each. The second leg I did took me through some of the best runs I had all week, in a section called Swell City! A great concept for a race, and one of the few events that utilized their wind window. Unfortunately I left Maggie with the last leg, a real slog with no wind! She pulled through and managed just fine though!

Downwind Transport

Race 2: The US SurfSki Champs

golden gate
After spending a few days in San Diego at the USA Canoe Kayak Sprint Nationals, put on by the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team (well done Cathy and your team!), I flew into San Fransisco on Saturday morning, ready for some Golden Gate action!

Unfortunately no real wind at the start, although it was sunny and hot! Can’t have it all right? Teneale rocketed off the start line, showing us how it is done!
The current was crazy as usual, and I am not sure if my line was correct. Once under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, we went South of Alcatraz, for the first time since I’ve done this race. The runs were fantastic around the island, followed by a bit of a flat spot.
Once through that section, it was runs all the way into Berkley. I seemed to be gaining on Teneale, but she was just too strong for me to catch her!

sfo podium
The women’s field again nice and solid, with Rachel in 3rd, Maggie in 4th and Rowy in 5th.
Full results here:
Next up is the Nelo Summer Challenge followed by the 2nd ICF World Champs in Tahiti. With the rest of the world going, it’s looking like it will be one epic race!
See you on the water,
sig angled

Defining Success



The clean slate of 2015, a new year filled with fresh opportunities.

All through January, I have been reading loads of articles and blog posts about goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. Read some of them here and here and here.

We have all heard about process goals, the breaking down of a large, seemingly insurmountable task, into smaller, more manageable tasks/goals. As Carrie Barrett in the article on Training Peaks says: “The rungs in the ladder you’ll need to climb in order to reach the big goal”.

Before we even get to the process part, the most important part of this process for me is the first step – Defining Success.

I was watching Silver Linings Playbook on the flight from South Africa, that scene where the 2 main characters (Pat and Tiffany) compete in a dance competition, both being novice dancers. Pat’s superstitious father (played by Robert de Niro) has entered into a parlay with his gambling pal, where 2 things needs to happen for him to win back double the money he lost on the first bet. Firstly the Eagles need to beat the Dallas Cowboys, and then Pat and Tiffany need to score a 5.0 in the dance contest.


The eagles beat the Cowboys, and the pair scores a 5.0, and start celebrating (with the other dancers looking on in bewilderment at their joy in receiving such a low score).

What I love about this part of the movie, is that they are so stoked on their score, and it’s “only” a 5. Look at the other dancers expressions of condolence! They feel sorry for them for only scoring a 5.

10 is a perfect score, if your goal was to win the contest, or dance a perfect routine. Pat and Tiffany’s goal was to score a 5. They (and Pat’s dad’s gambling buddy) had defined what success would be. They achieved a 5 out of 5=100%. Success!

How do you aim for improvement, if you don’t know what it even looks like?

Here’s to a super 2015!

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