Varsity College Marine Series Race 1


Barry Lewin took  over this series a few years back, and is doing an awesome job with it!

Take a look at Race 1 Video:


Blue Bottles


The past few days the onshore wind has been blowing in Plett. Unfortunately a SE means only one thing… Blue Bottles.

(A 3-year-old child of a friend had a perfect name for them: “Sting Bottles”!)

The one really good thing about the onshore wind is that it makes for super fun paddling conditions!

We paddled a super out and back with the wind paddle this arvo, I will post the footage soon. Here is the photo sequence of me managing to (unknowingly) fling one particularly long bugger over my head, and snag it on my ear, and then wrap it around my paddle and arm!

Getting it off is a tricky business. You don’t want to touch the blue string as it will burn you! You have to at some point, and balancing a tiny surf ski in the wind with no hands on your paddle is a sport within itself!

Hooked it on the left with my hair…

Now flicked it over my head and snagged on my ear!

Now the really tricky part, getting it off my paddle without getting stung again, and taking a swim in the deep blue sea!

All’s well that ends well!

I find the best treatment for Blue Bottle stings is ice!

PennyPinchers Easter Surf Ski Challenge supported by PPC Cement-mark it in your diary!


Three weeks until Pennypinchers Easter Surf Ski Challenge supported by PPC cement

With just three weeks left until the 4th edition of the Pennypinchers Easter Surf Ski Challenge (supported by PPC cement) kicks off on 23 and 24 April 2011 in Plettenberg Bay, a number of the area’s top local paddlers are eyeing out the R12 500 prize money in the men’s and women’s Singles divisions.

The three Surf Ski Challenge events form part of the Plett Easter Games 2011, a four day Easter weekend sports festival which also includes a Trail Run (4km & 10km), Golf tournament, MTB Challenge (20km & 40km) and Road Run (10km). Wayne Craig of Offthehook Events, organizers of the Pennypinchers Easter Surf Ski Challenge supported by PPC cement, said that “there was previously no surf ski race in Plett over Easter. We were interested in starting one up, and Pennypinchers and PPC Cement have since been unbelievable in their support”.

Along with the Singles race (1pm on Saturday, 23 April), there will also be a Doubles race (8am on Sunday, 24 April) and Kiddies Guppy Race (10am on Saturday, 23 April). Local legends Michele Eray and Alexis Lyon have already signaled their intent to challenge for the Singles surf ski race title. Craig said that “the Singles surf ski races are sure to be super competitive.

Plett’s beautiful coastline offers many spectacular vantage points for spectators to watch the race so I’m hopeful that our event, as well as the other epic Plett Easter Games, will be well supported”. Of those who enter the surf ski races before 15 April, two people will be in line to win a three-night weekend in Plettenberg Bay, including breakfast and dinner. The first 100 entrants will also receive an awesome Goodie Bag.

The entry forms are available on, and those wanting to see pictures of last year’s event can visit

Those who are interested in participating in or attending the event can find additional information by visiting, following @offthehookplett on Twitter, Pennypinchers Easter Surfski Challenge on Facebook or by contacting Wayne Craig at or on 044 533 0796.

For accommodation, Patty Butterworth is available at

Peninsular Marathon & Thule bags :)


Photo by John Hishin

This past weekend was the Peninsular Marathon in Cape Town. It was made up of 2 of the Discovery Series races, namely, the Daniel Conradie Memorial at Strand and then the Milnerton to Melkbos Downwind.

The Dan Conradie is special to me as Daniel was the guy who coached me when I was a junior, and helped me become the paddler I am today, He had an incredible work ethic, and was an incredible paddler and person. I miss him still.

The race went very well. Even though it was pretty flat, I made the most of the double ski’s that were allowed to race with us, and hooked some great wash riding. I managed to finish in 96.5% of the winning man’s time. This is the first time a woman has achieved Elite Grade status in the history of the Series. (Elite is 95% or up, A Grade is 90% or up, B Grade 80% or up, etc. )the grading idea is great because then everyone gets to be competitive in their own grade, and not just have to race the Top guys.

The second day was a lot more fun, as there was a lot of wind. I had a total ball, and managed to put my paddles down a lot and surf the runs. I finished the Peninsular Marathon in 1st place and 4th Overall in the men’s event. All in all a great weekend. Well done to Richard Kohler and his team for organising, and congrats on his and Judy’s engagement!

I am now about to hop on a plane to Dubai, to try and defend my title there. Wind predictions are looking small, but let’s wait and see…

I got a fantastic surprise this morning when Janine Baxter from Thule sent me one of their new travel bags.

It is awesome, and so much thought has gone into this bag. There are compartments for everything, even a protective case part for sunglasses and Ipods. There is a zip-off Day pack too, as well as some pretty funky and indestructible looking wheels. thanks Thule, its packed and ready for Dubai!

I have been staying at Graeme Soloman’s place on the water here in Cape Town. It’s been so awesome to be able to just hop straight in my K1 and train, right from the front lawn! Thanks for having me Solly! I am glad to be one of the many “champions” who have stayed and trained from his base 🙂 Hanging with Megs and him and has been so awesome, and it has been such a help. Megan has a very interesting vet practice, called Holistic Vet, where she specialises in animal reahabilitation.

OK, I better get cracking and head to CT INternational, don’t want to miss my flight!

Oh yes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom today! Mom: you are an inspiration to me, and I love you so much!

Cape Town



Photo from John Hishin-Cape Town Sport Photography


I came down to Cape Town, as I had the privilege of being the Guest Speaker at Somerset House School. I got to present their Sports Awards. The Headmaster there, Chris Storey, was my first canoeing coach, and after setting up the every successful canoeing program at Bridgehouse School, he moved to Somerset House about 4 years ago. It was great, and I hope I inspired some future Olympians!


I am here for the week, and am hoping to get in some quality training, and race practice.  On Sunday I raced the Discovery Sunglass Hut Series race at Oceana. It was an out and back course. Out into a strong wind and swell, but then turning and enjoying the downwind on the way back. After a terrible start, I managed to haul in first place, Nikki Mocke. After sitting with her and Billy and Tracy Harker (mixed doubles winners) I put in a surge to try to catch the bunch ahead of us. In the process I dropped her and the Harkers. I turned in first, and then managed to open up my lead on the downwind section, to win by over 3 minutes.


I am training here for the next week, and race the Peninsular Marathon on this coming weekend, before flying to Dubai to defend my title there. It’s always great to be in Cape Town, catch up with old friends and just enjoy the beauty of it!


John Hishin-Cape Town Sports Photography


Thanks to John for the awesome images. Click on them to go to his website.


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!





Interesting article on Global Surfski


So there are 70 ski’s out there! Hectic. Peter Ekstrom gives you a run by of them all.