Pre-Dubai and a general rant…


After reading Rob’s pre-Dubai race report, I thought I would add to his one liner about the female race with my own little splurb… (budding journalist that I am).

No doubt there should be a great men’s race, with lots of surf ski hotties showing up.

In the women, Rob mentioned that Katie Pocock from New Zealand is coming.  Despite winning the race in 2007 and placing 3rd in 2009, she is unfortunately not going to make it.

Nikki Mocke will be there in her first attempt at the race. She missed the last few due to her commitments to the South African K4 that went all the way to the Olympics, quite a feat that she, as a surf ski paddler could convert her skill to flatwater sprinting. No offence to her husband, but to illustrate how difficult this is, Dawid tried to make it in flatwater, and had to resign himself to the fact that he is an amazing ski paddler, but not very fast on the flats! Nikki has made no bones about the fact that she is back, and has won the Durban World Cup since her return as well as dominating the Cape Discovery Sunglass Hut Surf Ski Series.

Ruth Highman from Australia, who was 2nd at the Dragon Run last year, and who also got 2nd at the recent Island Shamaal, will be making her first attempt at the Dubai Shamaal. The Perth-based doctor is known to be better in the downwind conditions.

Michele Eray has won the past 2 Dubai Shamaal’s, and is probably the only paddler who crosses all areas of the sport of paddling by competing in flatwater, both Sprints and Marathon, as well as River racing. The Olympian has had a agreat year, winning the Fish River Marathon last month, as well as placing 4th, just a few meters off a medal at the World Marathon Champs in Spain. Only Hank McGregor out of the men, also crosses over to other types of paddling sports with success.

Locally, Christie O’Higgins will be the favourite, and she gets to train on that part of the water as often as she likes.

Chloe Bunnet, originally from Knysna, South Africa, who know lives in the UK, will be there. She recently won the British Champs, and is thoroughly enjoying her new-found sport, having crossed over from Flatwater.

No one else has entered, neither have I actually! I better get on it. But anyway, I just thought I better write something because no one else is going to!

I made a small comment on my Facebook page today, and the debate that has been generated has been great! Love to stir the pot a little 🙂

Seriously though, the general disregard towards the women paddlers and lack of support really does get me down. How do we change this?

It has been mentioned that the Dubai Shamaal organizers put on big cash for the race in 2008 and not many people showed, well when they dropped the money the next year, even less showed. Why do none of the women come back (except for idiot me)?

Well firstly, it won’t happen over night.

Secondly, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Race organisors  can’t just expect everyone to start supporting your race because you up the money for one year! You have to make an overall effort, that means consideration for the different aspect of the women’s race. For one thing, the media guys all defend their lack of race commentary or reporting on not being able to find the women paddlers. Well, if getting another support/TV boat is impossible, have a separate start. Or something… Give it some thought… Also maybe actually ask the women how their race went…

The Nelo Summer Challenge had a great idea this year. They made 1st to 3rd equal in the men’s and womans prizes, then the women’s stopped, and the men’s carried on to 10th. This did not ignore the fact that the women that were there were top class/world champions, but it did acknowledge that there were more men than women. They rewarded the talent and not the depth! Go Europe! Is it just Africa that is still in the dark ages?

The National bodies (canoeing etc) and race organisers, and boat manufacturers should be the ones who are attempting to grow the women’s side of the sport. Canoeing South Africa were very quick to implement a “Development program” to help all the previously disadvantaged people (Males) out there. And it paid off with Michael Mbanjwe being the first male black Dusi winner when he won the K2 with Martin Dreyer in 2007. Now take this into consideration: women were only allowed to paddle the Dusi for the FIRST time in 1981, and it was in a K2 with a MALE. I don’t even know when they were first allowed to paddle on their own! That is a full 30 years after the first male paddled down the river. Should women not considered “development” paddlers then? Surely Canoeing South Africa should then also be doing something to help the situation then?

We have a long way to catch up. 30 years worth… Lucky we learn quick!

Physically we will never beat the top men (well unless there is something seriously wrong!). I must say though, that I have experienced men who will rather die then get beaten by me. Is that the problem? Is this all an ego issue?

Personally, all these guys that paddle in tights is a bit scary.

OK, that is enough banter. I am going to paddle, in my ski, with a bikini on! And yes, I am going to paddle further than the local guys, and train harder, just because I can. And I will squeal when I go down the first run, like a GIRL!






Formentera Race


After our epic car journey with Rui (a man of great patience), we boarded the ferry to Formentera. Rui put his whole van plus trailer on board, and we were off.

We arrived to one of the most beautiful spots! I can’t belive I went to an island to do a surf ski race (well, an island next to Ibiza). It was an amazing experience, and I don’t think I would have ever visited this place otherwise. It is known as the hippy island, and apparently Bob Marley played in one of the caves years back.

We wasted no time, and had a swim in the unbelievably blue water. Not too many fish, but great anyway!

I totally got into the Spanish island vibe, we went to bed late, woke up late, had siesta’s, paddled in bikini’s (not the boys), drank Pinto De Verano (which is red wine mixed with lemon juice and loads of ice) and ate lots of tapas.

The Race: (was hacking with the camera-first left it in Rui’s car, then battery died, then camera died on an underwater experience, so no photo’s, waiting for the other’s)

I had a terrible start, was lying about 20th. I managed to sneak some rebounds and work my way up to 10th, and then on the downwind bit, I caught up a few places into 6th overall and first woman). There were 2 laps of this headwind-downwind course, and the 2nd lap turned out to be a bit harder as the wind died. All in all a good event, with a prize giving dinner thrown in too. Sean Rice took the guys from Barry Lewin and Richard von Wildeman (Oos Kaap).

Unfortunately Rich lost his camera, and mine died, so hoping to get some more photos from the others. The next day we  caught the ferry across to Ibiza. I was surprised at how awesome it is. I definitely didn’t go for the party scene, but the beaches  are incredible. Wayne “the Legend tour guide” took us to all the best spots, and we checked out the Old Town, and had dinner with Amanda and Mark before crashing at our apartment. No sleep for us however, as all the Pommies were coming (or going) to the Disco’s…

Wayne Powell (tour guide)

Wayne dropped us off at the airport, and I said Adios to the guys as they were all heading home. the second part of my Eurotrip is just beginning though, as I have Marathon Worlds next week. I flew to Barcelona and rented a car. I had been threatening to rent a Mini Cooper, and when the guy behind the counter said that was all he had, I knew it was meant to be! Wow, a bright red one too! STOKED!!!

I lost the map he gave me, but Banyoles was pretty easy to find. Made my way to the Lake, and ran into a guy I know, who hooked me up with a spot to stay right on the water. Lucky lucky! The rest of the team arrives on Saturday, and I am fetching Mark Bosch tomorrow (and dropping off the Mini-my heart is already sore!).

Been good to be on my own for  change. Making the adjustment from Surf Ski to K1 has been interesting, but feeling better in the boat today. Unfortunately have picked up a head cold, hoping it goes away soonest! Took the Mini to Girona to see the sights and sounds, very cool city, hope there are no speeding fines waiting for me!

OK, better hit the sack, as need to be up early tomorrow.

have bought a new camera so hopefully will get some classic shots of the car (and the race venue of course!).

Buenes Nochas:)

Fifth Win & Bridgitte Wins 500m K1 at Szeged

Photo by Anthony Grote
Photo by Anthony Grote

On Sunday I raced the 5th Race of the Surf Ski Series here in Durban. It was from Scottborough to Winkelspruit, which is 23km of potential downwind. When we woke up there was no wind, but on the course it was actually super fun, with leftover bumps from the night before wind. Warren and I ended up paddling together the whole way, on a very shallow line. We even got to take a couple of waves along the way. Maybe not the fastest route, but definitely the most fun!

I ended up winning by over 6 minutes from Michelle Eder, and in a great 87% of the winning man’s time. Billy Harker has raised the PowerAde Bonus Percentage to 84% as I have taken the full prize every week so far. In Cape Town I only ever took about half…
While I was hooting down runs, Bridgitte Hartley (my Olympic K2 partner, and my Marathon Partner for this year) won the 500m K1 event at the Szeged World Cup. (see for more info). Sprint Kayaking in Hungary is bigger than rugby here in South Africa. I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to win her race in front of that enthusiastic and very vocal Hungarian crowd!
Well done Bridge!