DSKC - The Golden Years

Thursday, 22 November 2007 16:49 | Written by 
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The Dubai Surfski and Kayak Club (DSKC) is about to host the richest race in the history of paddling: in ten days time, the winner of the Dubai Shamaal will walk away with US$20,000 of the US$50,000 prize pool.

DSKC Evolution!


So who are these DSKC people with their dollar signs drifting around the Shamaal website? A bunch of nouveau riche newbies trying to buy the sport?

Actually not - the DSKC has grown, like many other clubs, from grass roots through the efforts of their core members.  The tale starts on a fine summer morning in 2001..

A couple of Saffas far from home make a plan

Wayne Randall was looking out to sea from his beach front villa when he spotted a paddler on a purple hammerhead ski. "He had a heart rate monitor planted on his largish frame," he said, "and he was making very heavy weather of the warm, calm ocean conditions."

Earlier that same morning another hammerhead, a blue one, had whizzed up and down the then newly completed Burj Al Arab at a rate of knots considerably faster than the purple ski...

Wayne watched this early morning activity for a good week until he plucked up the courage to venture out towards them.  He'd bought a green (what's with all these colors?) double hammerhead, intending to paddle with a friend, Kevin Goddard, a top-10 South African Dusi Marathon finisher, but Kevin worked at the Al Maha Resort in the middle of the desert... 

So when one morning the blue egg beater and purple paddler passed by "Norman No Mates" Randall headed out to greet them.  Three skis in one spot - a very rare site in Dubai in 2001.  The egg beater turned out to be from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Wayne's home town and purple paddler had studied at university there - and Wayne knew that he had something to work with.

"The slower purple paddler was Alan Hall," he said, "and the bloke who paddled like an egg beater on steroids was none other than John Callie." 

24 Skis looking for a home!

"Lost your paddling partner mate?" asked Purple Paddler indicating the vacant seat in Wayne's double.  "She's sleeping... I live up there near the beach," Wayne replied.  "We're looking to get some skis in and start a club - what do you guys think?" 

"Hmmm...!" said Purple Paddler.  It turned out that Alan Hall had been storing 24 of John Callie's skis at his home and needed to get them out on instructions from his wife, Fiona...

And the humble beginnings of the DSKC started right there amidst the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf.  

In no time John, Alan and Wayne met to discuss the pending storage of some 30 hammerhead skis that John had imported from South Africa.  "It's not often that I've met someone with more enthusiasm than me when it comes to water sports," said Wayne, "but in John I had met someone so energetic and enthusiastic about sport - and life itself - that the club was sure to succeed."

The skis and the personalities combined to lay the foundations of what would become the first (and possibly still the only) paddling club in the Middle East. 

Six years later... a short but colourful history

The DSKC now has a membership tally that rivals any club in the world and has established a tight knit fraternity involving kayak vendors and the Dubai Paddling School.  Members have become better paddlers; craft have evolved from slow old hammerheads to the state of the art racing craft and the races have become more challenging and competitive.



The DSKC has staged a number of events - culminating in the first Dubai Shamaal in 2006.

  • The Standard Bank Global Roots 2002 - 15km
  • "The Charged" series
  • Landrover Surfski Series 


Annual Events 

  • Dubai Creek - Bridge to Bridge - A 12km flat water race along the infamous Dubai Creek between Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud bridges.
  • Paddle with Sole: Annual race against Dubai Creek Striders.  A unique race that dictates that teamwork is more important than winning. Graded teams of 4 paddlers and 4 runners race along the Dubai Beach over a 10km course meeting at a common turning point near the Burj Al Arab then heading back along the coast to finish at the sailing club DOSC. Each team is only as fast as its weakest member, and places a colored peg in the beach only when the last member of the team reaches the DOSC beach.
  • Ali Maynard Musamdam Classic: This race takes place in Northern Oman through the musandam over 25km, around Telegraph Island. The island is infamous for the term "going around the bend" was coined here during the World War I. Strategic control of the island was paramount and British troops were left on the small island in order to draw a telegraph line around the bend of the tip of Oman using Telegraph Island as a base. The remoteness of the island and the infrequent shipping traffic had these guys out here alone for long periods of time and once the ships returned to collect them, they had literally gone around the bend. This race is in honor of one of our stalwart members Ali Maynard and his wife Pam who both were key core members of the club.  Pam and Ali have since moved back to South Africa but the legacy of Ali and the race continues.    


Characters , Personalities and friendships

  • (See the gallery below)  Rob Klok (Fenn Agent) and Gavin Dickinson (Club President) are core club members; Chantelle and Richard Howes have supported the club from the beginning.
  • Graeme Fenton and Hadyn Holmes (seen here sharing a joke while riding the wake of dhow - wake riding is one of the club traditions and forms the basis for the "King of the Dhows" title).
  • Ian Kingon (Epic distributor) has been key to the growth of the sport in Dubai and many of the club's successes are due to him.
  • Pete O'Higgins is the drive behind the Dubai Paddling School.  As DSKC club captain, he acts as a catalyst between the club and the members.

Wayne added, "Also deserving of mention are Robyn Parker, Neil Hamp Adams who drove the Shamaal home last year and many others. I must also thank Jamal Al Mazrooie a local Emirati who has allowed the club to exist within the walls of his private villa.  Jamal who now occupies the villa that I previously stayed in is a keen sportsman himself and enjoys the activity of the club along the beach. For a modest rent and free water Jamal is the unsung hero behind the club; if we had no clubhouse we would have no club."

DSKC Legends

Boyan Zlaterev: a quiet unassuming guy who is the fastest projectile on the water between the Club and The Burj, a co-founder of Dubai Paddling School and a mentor to all in Dubai. "Unbeaten to date at DSKC I believe," said Wayne, "Boyan is a real paddling talent but a gentleman foremost."

Nigel Harvey a paddler from the old school, a key core club man still dishing out hard lessons to the youngsters.



What it's all about

DSKC beginnings
At the end of the day...

Dubai Shamaal 2007 

"To all those of you heading to the desert this year," Wayne said, "on behalf of the club we are looking forward to seeing all out here for a great paddle and an awesome weekend. Windguru is currently predicting a 23knot westerly wind on the 28th - hopefully it will last until the 30th."

Shamaal logo 

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