Bing Lee/LG Ocean Series kicks off with the Vajda Canoes Rocks to Reef

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 08:29 | Written by  Jamie Stewart
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Rambo heads out - watch out for the video! Rambo heads out - watch out for the video! Credits: Allan Coker (and Rambo)

For the third consecutive year, Tim Jacobs has taken out the opening race of the Bing Lee LG Oceanseries, in association with Epic Kayaks, ahead of Nathan Smith and Michael Locke. The competition behind Tim was thick and fierce, boding well for the series to come.


...less than 90 seconds

Second and tenth places were separated by less than 90 seconds, the same margin by which Tim gapped the rest of the field. Lauren Smith won the ladies, 30 seconds ahead of Mel Pelly. The Vajda Canoes Rocks to Reef challenge had more finishers and more prize money than previous years, and the biggest surfski expo ever seen in Australia to back it up. The growth of the sport here in Oz continues to amaze, with the number of different manufacturers at the expo and on the water continuing to grow every year.


Surfski Expo

 Ocean Series

Surfski Expo

Surfski Expo

Ocean Series

The sunshine attracted good numbers for the race

Dash for Cash Spectacle

This weekend was the closest weather Sydney has had to summer since, well, summer! But whilst the sunshine had most Sydneysiders dusting off their bikinis and boardies, it was the northeasterly breeze that had paddlers smiling. The course for the Vajda Canoes Rocks to Reef changed slightly this year, organisers opting for one long triangle, from Dee Why surf club, to Long Reef headland, to South Curl Curl and back. This shortened the course slightly, to 12km, but made for a much longer downwind section than in previous years, with a technical finish along the rocks around Dee Why headland.

Another key change was the dash for cash, which took paddlers 500m parallel to the shore up to Dee Why surf club and making a great spectacle for the crowd on the beach. The dash for cash attracted some fresh faces – local clubby (lifesaving) ski paddlers who are more accustomed to 1000m sprints than 12km grinds. Unfortunately for the usual long distance specialists, this new guard took them unawares at the start, pushing close to the shore and leaving the race favourites lagging behind early with Manly local Nick Dawe, taking out the dash for cash.

TJ wins

Ocean Series

After 500m, the course took a hard left turn out to sea. There were more than a few expletives yelled as 130 paddlers squeezed around a single buoy, before heading out to Long Reef headland. This succeeded in spreading the field out almost immediately, making finding a pack-wash all the more difficult. It also succeeded in taking the rudders off a few boats, as the force of a near-180 degree turn proved too much.

Nathan Smith and Mark Minchin quickly took the lead back from the sprinters, beginning the tough grind into the wind. By the time they had turned at Long Reef though, Tim Jacobs had managed to pull himself back up into contention. The downwind section of the race proved perfect for linking runs together, allowing Tim to put a gap into Nathan and the pack, which they could not recover from.

Ocean Series

Considering that he has chosen not to race professional ironman this year, and that his wife is expecting twins in two weeks’ time, it was great to see Nathan front up this weekend. He’s the first to admit that long racing on relatively flat water is not his strength, but he proved this weekend that he’ll be a big threat for this year’s series.  Fellow Wollongong paddler Michael Locke showed fine form and promises to be a fierce contender this season coming home close on Nathan’s heels to take third place.  The number of surf ironmen in the long distance field continues to increase, with the likes of Tom Atkinson (6th), Kendrick Louis (9th) and Grant Coates (1st spec ski), following in the tracks of Jeremy Cotter, Caine Eckstein, Nathan Smith and numerous others.

Tim Jacobs

TJ dicing it with Nathan and Cade Barnes (4th)

So what does this weekend’s result mean? According to TJ, by winning this race he has established a “firm stranglehold” on the series. Is this a hint of arrogance?? Could local success be getting to his head?? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that Tim is talking tough despite the knowledge that last year he managed to win the first 5 races and still not win the whole series.


Winners are grinners – Top 3 – TJ, Nathan and Michael Locke

An interesting side note: this weekend’s race continued the trend for compulsory PFDs in Australian surfski racing. The move was well supported, with almost all paddlers bringing their own paddling PFD, and race organisers lending a few out to those who didn’t.

For more info

For full results, check out Next race is the Land Rover Lion Island Challenge on 9 October.


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