Latest Surfski News

Tuesday, 17 October 2023 07:11
“What the bloody hell are you doing here?” I thought to myself a few moments after launching on the brand new V10 4G for the first time. It was getting dark; it was raining; the squalls were lifting sheets of spray off the water… directly offshore. What WAS I thinking? The answer is that I’m a sucker for new toys – and if I get my hands on one, I HAVE to play with it. Damn the weather, full speed ahead… Since then I’ve paddled the boat many more times, in much pleasanter weather. Here’s what I think of this,…
Thursday, 08 June 2023 12:42
East London, South Africa: Angus Warren watched helplessly as the shark’s teeth crunched through the hull of his surfski. “It seemed to go on and on,” he says, “pushing and chomping. I was thinking, why is it not working out that it isn’t food? “I can’t tell how long it took, but I had enough time to shout a couple of times to the others.” The next thing he knew, he was in the water…
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Thursday, 27 April 2023 18:42
CAPE TOWN - Hank McGregor and Josh Fenn convincingly claimed back their Prescient Freedom Paddle title on Thursday in a dramatic race marked by tough conditions and a rain-delayed start.  Conditions were extremely tough - a brisk northwester blowing spray from the big confused chop into the paddlers' faces as they headed out to the island.  Huge breaking surf on the far side of the island ensured a wide line but the wind dropped as the fleet started on the journey back to the finish, making it that much more difficult and energy sapping to catch the runs.  
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Tuesday, 25 April 2023 11:50
Last Friday, however, I paddled with Dawid on a windless autumn evening in Cape Town. Cruising from Fish Hoek to Muizenberg, we paddled together, stopping at all the coves to surf a few waves. In short, the operative word was "fun". This was a different Dawid - off duty - and, well, I've never paddled with anyone so noisy before. Whistling, singing, shouting to folks on shore - yahooing as he caught a wave. Heading home at dusk we crept up behind a group of seals lazing on the surface. Dawid began barking like a five-year-old paid by the bark...until…
Thursday, 09 February 2023 07:39
A look back - aaaaargh! A mountain. Let it go through... A smaller one, with a glimpse of something massive lurking further out to sea. Catch it, catch it! Sprint, sprint, you’re on it, here’s the break zone, keep going, keep going, the roar from behind and the sudden acceleration as a massive foamy caught up to me, keep it straight, keep it straight... Phew. Arrived. Panting. Stop the watch. ok. Made it. Empty the boat, pick it up to prevent it knocking you down. Done.
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Saturday, 26 November 2022 17:16
The South Africans cleaned up today at the most prestigious surfski race in Australia – arguably the most prestigious race in the world - taking five out of the top six places and the entire podium at the Shaw and Partners “The Doctor” in Perth. Defending women’s champion, Kiwi Danielle McKenzie won the women’s trophy.
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Saturday, 19 November 2022 13:01
Gold Coast paddler, Cory Hill, took first scalp in the five-event ocean ski racing series, the Shaw and Partners WA Race Week, winning the inaugural race today, the 24km Fenn West Coast Downwinder from Fremantle, just south of Perth, to Sorrento Beach. In fine conditions with a 16 knot SSW wind courtesy of the famed Fremantle Doctor, the start off Port Beach was intense with the top paddlers in a terse battle to make the first break.   But it was 33-year-old Hill – the 4-times DOCTOR champ who relishes the Perth conditions – who was able to shake the field…
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Tuesday, 16 March 2021 13:54
It’s not easy to catch a rolling, runaway single ski in 30kt of gusting wind – and as they attempted to grab it, Alex and his doubles partner lost their balance and fell into the water. By the time they’d remounted, the single ski was gone – blown away by the strengthening near-gale. They turned and paddled back upwind to find their buddy.
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Wednesday, 03 March 2021 12:08
Accident reports are easy to write when the story ends happily, but this one didn’t and it’s with a very heavy heart that I’m writing this, with a view to learning what we can from it.
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Wednesday, 15 July 2020 09:13
When the NSRI found Duncan MacDonald, he was approximately 6km off Smitswinkel Bay, drifting rapidly further offshore. Gale-force squalls whipped sheets of spray off the waves, reducing visibility almost to nothing. What Happened? Given the small size of the surfski community, there’s always intense interest whenever there’s a rescue. What happened? What did they do wrong? What can we learn from it? Clearly there are lessons to be learnt from any mishap – so here’s a description of what happened, shared with the permission and cooperation of the folks involved in the hope that we might all learn from this…
Friday, 24 April 2020 11:41
Durban – As the continued coronavirus lockdown grips the country, Canoeing South Africa will host a 24 hour Canoeing4COVID-19 event this weekend as a way to raise funds for members of the broader paddling community that have been badly affected by the lockdown.
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Wednesday, 11 March 2020 14:35
“Hey, Rob! Help!” The shouts penetrated the sound of the howling wind and crashing waves – and even through the noise it was obvious from the tone of his voice that something was seriously wrong. I turned and headed back upwind.
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Tuesday, 03 March 2020 14:43
Many paddlers use Personal Locator Beacons, or tracker apps like SafeTrx on their mobile phones. But handheld VHF radios are also a great choice to consider – especially when they’re DSC-capable like the Standard Horizon HX870E.
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Monday, 24 February 2020 12:01
I finally got my hands on a demo Fennix Swordfish S this weekend and did two Miller's Runs in succession to see if I could feel any difference in handling between the 2018 Swordfish S and the new Fennix model.  Conditions were challenging: False Bay was covered in whitecaps, whipped by a combination of a 25-30kt southeaster and small, confused seas.  The result?  I definitely want to spend more time in this boat.
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Thursday, 26 December 2019 10:30
The shark smashed like a freight train into Roger Swinney’s surfski in an explosion of noise and spray, knocking him off into the water.  “I managed to get back on the ski,” he said, “but I fell off again and as I remounted the second time, I saw the swirl and tips of the shark’s fins. “I didn’t see it clearly, but from the force of it and the movement in the water, it looked big!”
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Rob Mousley

South Africans Mocke and Nixon win in the Canary Islands

Monday, 19 February 2018 16:59 |

"The Europeans have caught on," laughed Jasper Mocke. "We used to be much quicker than them at the start, but we had six or seven boats dicing in a sprint to the first turn buoy!"

Ivan Lawler - Technique Masterclass

Friday, 16 February 2018 11:30 |

Clearly I'm late to the game; this video was posted in March 2017 and has been watched over 51,000 times as at February 2018!  But if you haven't seen it; it's very highly recommended for anyone who wants to improve their technique...  

The coach is Ivan Lawler.  Ivan is a renowed British canoeist; he:

  • Specialised in marathon paddling, winning five gold and two silver medals in world championships in a career that spanned 1988 to 1989
  • Won a silver and a gold medal in K2 sprint medal in the 10,000m in 1989 and 1990 respectively
  • Competed in three summer Olympics in sprint.
  • Now owns and operates the company Ultimate Kayaks, selling boats (Epic Kayaks and Nelo) and paddles.  He also coaches and provides insightful and entertaining commentary at marathon and surfski events!

Peak Paddle Performance Podcast

I heard about this video on the latest Peak Paddle Performance podcast, which I thoroughly recommend.  The podcast is hosted by Nick Murray who runs TC Surfski in the USA.  Click here for a full list of the podcasts - they're also highly recommended and comprise a series of interviews with the likes of:

  • Oscar Chalupsky
  • Carter Johnson
  • Austin Keiffer
  • Sean Rice
  • Boyan Zlatarev
  • Pat Langley 

...and many more.  They're all entertaining, they're all instructive.  Download them from the website, or subscribe to "Peak Paddle Performance Podcast" wherever you get your podcasts. 

Now watch the video!

Ze Caribbean Race - Oscar Chalupsky Interview

Saturday, 10 February 2018 09:33 |

"Fortunately the camera died for the last 5km, because I was cursing..." said Oscar Chalupsky. "It was flat, hot, headwind… and I was blown!"

Miller's Taxi Conquers the Miller's Run!

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 08:29 |

"It was an adrenalin rush and I can't wait to do it again…" said Vinnie Cicatello. He'd just completed his first ever Miller's Run, in the back of a double surfski with Oscar Chalupsky.

Fenn Swordfish S Review - First Looks

Monday, 05 February 2018 15:54 |

As I shot down the face of the run, spray flying, I spotted the next dip in the water over to one side. A touch of the rudder pedal, a slight lean and the surfski turned towards it; through the dip and a neat curve in the other direction and I'd shot around the shoulder of the wave, accelerating again onto the next run. A crazy thought ricocheted around my brain: What was it that produced this feeling of extreme pleasure? Adrenalin? Endorphins? Dopamine? All three? Whatever it was, the feeling of playing with a new boat definitely added to it.

Catching Waves with the Big O

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 09:37 |

A few days after winning "Ze Caribbean Race", here's Oscar coaching a couple of paddlers (including his boss) on downwind technique.

I've had the enormous pleasure of paddling a number of times with Oscar in doubles on our beloved Miller's Run downwind route here in Cape Town, and I can say with all honesty that it's been a revelation and inspirational every time.

As you can see (and hear, as he barks at his pupils!), Oscar's basic mantra is to paddle early and stop paddling early and work with the energy of the waves.  On many other occasions (although he doesn't mention it in this video) he's described taking a couple of "explosive" power-strokes to get onto the run.  

Don't try to catch every run

When I paddled doubles with him, I was astonished at how many waves he didn't take: he has an uncanny ability to feel whether the wave is the right one or not.  If not, he lets it roll under him, taking the next one (or the one after that).  But more often then not, he then pops back over the one or two that he discarded, making up the distance and more.  This kind of skill takes time in the boat to acquire - at the beginning of a downwind career, the novice tries too hard, fails to get over too many runs, using too much energy - but you learn over time how to use the least amount of power to catch the run and then to milk it for all the energy it contains.

Scanning

Another of Oscar's mantras is too keep scanning 45 degrees either side of your course, looking for the next dip in the water, or the next shoulder of the wave in front.  Frequently he'll steer a kind of S-curve, turning left or right, keeping the speed up, before turning back onto the wave.  

If you ever get the chance to ride doubles with Oscar (or any of the other top downwind elites), don't hesitate!  You'll learn more in five minutes than you can imagine - and you'll be inspired to get straight back out to try it for yourself.

40kt Durban Downwind

Monday, 22 January 2018 14:01 |

Sharon Armstrong again, doing what she loves on the warm Durban ocean.  

This kind of paddling has a different flavour to the downwinds that we do over here in Cape Town.  The runs tend to be bigger and longer and fast and the water's much warmer than ours.

We tend to be nervous of the surf when we go to Durban; when they come here they always exclaim how cold the water is!

40kt and big waves is combination only very experienced paddlers should attempt - Sharon has our full respect!

#mockemillersrunoftheseason - Pete Holloway's 89th!

Monday, 22 January 2018 13:43 |

Peter Holloway got into surfskis in the late 90s, using a series of hand-me-down boats for playing in the waves...  but around that time Fish Hoek saw a series of encounters between Great White Sharks and surfskis (click here for the details).  "For some reason," says Peter, "I lost interest in paddling for a while and took up cycling instead!"

And it was only 2014 that his yearning to be back on the sea overcame his aversion of big toothy fish.  He bought a Custom Kayaks Horizon from the surfski school and went on to a Think Evo II in which he did his first Miller's Run in 2015.  He now paddles a Fenn Swordfish S and this video was taken as he did his 89th Miller's Run.

#mockemillersrunoftheseason

The Mocke Millers Run Of The Season competition started in November and continues until the end of February; prizes for fastest run, the most runs, the fastest mixed doubles runs and... the best video are all on offer.

Pete's also after the 20-run special edition shirt and is only 4 away from that particular goal.

The day of this video, the SE swell was just begining to swing into False Bay, and Pete took one on the nose as he headed out to Bakoven Rock (which marks the start of the run itself).  It was big and bouncy and enormous fun.

"For me, the Miller's Run is the epitome of surfski paddling," said Peter. "It is a perfect combination of facing your fears and harnessing the power of the wind and waves. The rush of flying down the face of a huge ocean swell at 25 km/h is one that not many sports can compare with... it's also a great way to keep fit!"

Anything under 50min is considered a respectable time and Peter has broken his own record no fewer than 4 times so far during the competition, his current personal best being 47:32, which he achieved on 28 Dec 2017.

Go Pete!

 

Oskar Speck's 30,000 Mile Paddle

Thursday, 18 January 2018 09:58 |

Until recently I thought Freya Hoffmeister, with her 27,000km multi-year voyage around South America held the record for the longest trip ever.  Not so! 

Vanity Fair just published a remarkable story about Oskar Speck, who in 1932, paddled away from the bleak prospects of a Great Depression wracked Germany down the Danube River.  Seven years and 30,000 miles later, he arrived in Australia, just in time to be interned as a enemy alien at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Surfing the Bundeena Bar - Sea Kayaks!

Thursday, 18 January 2018 08:13 |

I don't usually list non-surfski videos, but this one is exceptional.  The location is Bundeena: a village on the outskirts of southern Sydney (29 km south of the Sydney central business district), in the state of New South Wales, Australia. 

The poster, Mark Sundin, is a well known explorer, kayak instructor and paddler in Aus.  He's part of Expedition Kayaks, based in Sydney.

The comment on the Expedition Kayaks Facebook page says it all: "Nick, Rob & Andrew having a great time out on the residual groundswell from Sydney's 'Big Tuesday'. It's a reminder of the virtue of shorter, manoeuvrable playboats with volume for absolutely rocking it in the surf, rather than just hanging on & surviving it."

For me, as a surfski paddler, some of the interesting points are:

  • It looks as though they have the rudders up most of the time.  Is this a Sea Kayak "thing" for playing in surf?
  • Watch how they're not just using their paddles to brace but actually to steer on the waves.  I'm not sure this would be possible on surfskis!
  • One of the guys capsizes - but of course, being an expert sea kayaker, he simply rolls upright again.
  • Not all sea kayakers are "sunday drivers"!  Respect!

But this looks like an absolutely awesome location to take a surfski - in the right conditions!