Nelo Summer Challenge, Chicago Shoreline Marathon

Thursday, 26 August 2010 10:21 | Written by 
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Nelo Summer Challenge 2010 - practice run Nelo Summer Challenge 2010 - practice run

A huge international squad hits Portugal for the Nelo Summer Challenge while the Mocke/Cotter duel moves on to Chicago…

Nelo Summer Challenge – Friday, 27 August, 2010

A truly awesome assembly of talent has gathered in Portugal for the Nelo Summer Challenge, in the form of an eclectic mix of surfski and flat water paddlers (fresh - or exhausted! - from the ICF World Cup in Poznan, Poland):

Included in the sprinters are the full podium from the 1000m event at the Beijing Olympics!

  • Tim Brabants (UK)
  • Eirik Veras Larsen (Norway)
  • Kenny Wallace (Australia)

Of the three, Wallace spends the most time in surfski.

Busto (Spain) will be paddling…. What?  At Eurochallenge in Spain this year, Busto came third behind Dawid Mocke and Sean Rice, paddling a racing Sea Kayak!  What will he paddle in Portugal?!

Nelo Summer Challenge 2010

Busto - at the 2010 EuroChallenge in Spain

Others from the K1 world who also paddle surfski include:

  • Dave Smith (Australia) – fifth in the Perth Doctor
  • Jacob Clear (Australia)

Surfski specialists include:

  • Sean Rice (South Africa) – winner in New York two weeks ago and fourth in San Francisco
  • Tim Jacobs (Australia) – winner of the Dubai Shamaal last December
  • Matt Bouman (South Africa) – second in Durban in May
  • Jasper Mocke (South Africa) – fourth at the Perth Doctor in January
  • Barry Lewin (South Africa)

The Form

Even though the conditions are expected to be virtually flat, surfski paddlers will dominate.  My call for the pointy end is:

  1. Matt Bouman
  2. Jasper Mocke
  3. Tim Jacobs
  4. Sean Rice

The European surfski paddlers include Dani Viloria and Kiko Vega who have won alternate Spanish Champs; from the UK, Glen Eldridge will dominate.  According to Ivan Lawler, Ben Brown (UK) also has great boat skills, but no experience on surfskis.

Women’s Race

This is probably the biggest entry of women in any surfski race anywhere in the world – 18 at the last count.  (Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come…)

My pick to win is Michele Eray (South Africa) – who won every international surfski race she entered last year.  Joining her are:

  • Jo Bridgen Jones (Australia)
  • Bernadette Wallace (Australia)
  • Lani Bencher (5,000m European champion)
  • Rachel Cawthorn (UK) (1000m European Champion)
  • Jenna Hawkey (UK)
  • Bridgitte Hartley (South Africa)
  • Ana Batista (Portugal)
  • Ana Pimenta (Portugal)
  • Annabelle Vilaça (Portugal)
  • Angela Batista (Portugal)
  • Clara Borel (Spain)
  • Helena Rodrigues (Portugal)
  • Joana Sousa (Portugal)
  • Joana Vasconcelos (Portugal)
  • Marta Cabral (Portugal)
  • Teresa Portela (Portugal)
  • Sara Rafael (Portugal)

Weather Forecast

The race is scheduled to start at midday tomorrow; the forecast is for almost no wind at all.  Not exactly a raging downwind, but the sea is the sea and there should be enough in the way of bumps to make things challenging for the flat water paddlers!  [**UPDATE** A few minutes ago the twitter feed (@nelokayaks) announced the race will start at 4pm tomorrow because of the unseasonably calm weather and in the hope that some wind will come...]

Nelo Summer Challenge 2010 - forecast

The Race Course

This is the shortest international surfski race there's ever been – 10km in total.  The start is Le Mans style and there’s a 50m sprint finish on the beach.

A bit like the 20-20 cricket, there will be no time for any subtlety in terms of tactics – it’ll be a sprint from beginning to end.

Michele Eray’s Take on the Race

(I spoke to Michele just before she left South Africa for Portugal.)

Michele Eray

Michele Eray - Durban World Cup 2010

Do you have any idea who your opposition might be in Portugal? I guess there are a number of sprinters who'll be there but is anyone likely to give you a run for your money in the waves?

There are a number of top sprinters who would have just raced World Sprint Champs in Poland the week before, and who will be peaked to be very fast over short distances. They should be pretty competitive over the short “round the cans” style event on Saturday. There are also a number of Surf Life Savers, who have started sprint kayaking, and should prove to be pretty fast, as well as having knowledge and experience at racing in the sea. There are a couple of super fast 200m girls from Portugal, as well as Jenna Hawkey (last year’s winner) who is a surf life saver turned sprint kayaker, as well as a lot of Aussies, the top of that list is Jo Bridgen-Jones (won both the Aussie Surf Nationals and their 500m K1 Sprint event). Aussie Nationals is bigger than World Champs! I hope to make top 5!

How's the training been going?  Have you been spending much time in the ski?  Any recent results?  Have there been any races recently up where you are?!

I unfortunately had a car accident a little while back, which brought my training to an abrupt halt. It had been going well up until that point. I have had some remaining injuries that have prevented me doing as much as I would normally do, definitely haven’t done as much as I did last year this time. I have managed to pick it up again, and have been focussing on quality, and specifics. Don’t forget, at the end of my month long trip of surf ski races, I have World Marathon Champs, against some very fast International Kayakers. It is a very gruelling, fast and painful race of 6 laps and 6 portages at break neck speed. Enough to get the lactic acid burn firing. So I have been spending a lot of time in my K1, as well as the ski. Been a lot of whales in the Bay here, so we’ve been having a really scenic paddle lately!!

Any comments on the course?  Some folks are saying that having such a short course makes it more accessible to paddlers from other disciplines.

I think that 10km will definitely help those who are more sprinter-types to do well. I personally prefer 25km of downwind, but I think that it is great that we get to race a “new” distance. It should prove to be very fast and exciting, and I think one run missed, will maybe cost you the race! I also like the idea of racing a life saving style event the next day.

Nelo have made the prize money equal, up until 3rd place for men and women. Then the men’s goes until 10th and the women’s only until 3rd. this is pretty fair, as they are not denying that the level/standard of the female competitors is high, we just don’t have the same depth as the men in terms of numbers. It is great, and I think other race organisers should take note.

Europe is definitely exploding surfski-wise - we now have far more readers in Europe than in South Africa...  (29% Aus/NZ; 28% USA; 19% Europe; 15% South Africa)

For sure, it’s great how it is exploding. I am away for 3 weeks of 5 races, awesome stuff!!


Here’s some video from Tuesday, showing some of the paddlers in Portugal…

For more information, see:

Live Video Feed

See the live video feed here:


Chicago Shoreline Marathon

Chicago Shoreline Marathon

Part of the race course

The forecast for the CSM is: Sunny, 84F/29C, a 9kt southerly breeze and waves of less than 1ft.  That means there’s going to be very little in the way of assistance for the paddlers, and almost no wind to cool them down!  They’ll be travelling almost as fast as the wind – best they take plenty of liquids with them…  The course from Calumet Harbour to Leone Beach is 25mi/40km.

Tall Ships

As the paddlers reach the half way mark, they’ll start seeing a host of massive masts – the tall ships are in town!  More than 20 of the world’s biggest sailing ships are attending “Tall Ships Chicago 2010” – I can just see catching a ride on the wake of a massive square rigged ship…

The Race

Before he left, Dawid Mocke said that this is one of his favorite paddles – the Chicago skyline is truly spectacular.

My bet is that Mocke, Cotter and Mark Anderson will paddle most of the race together, conserving energy for a sprint finish.

For more information see:

For info on the Tall Ships see:

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