Beachgoers to the Strand were left in awe and wondering at the sanity of paddlers competing in the Island Tribe Ocean Test in Cape Town South Africa, the fifth race in the Best4 Surfski Series. Large waves were breaking on the outside reefs that line the Strand promenade, and, with zero wind blowing, the sea was a glassy playground for ocean lovers. The organisers set a ch...
allenging two lap course for paddlers (one lap for the Stand Up Paddleboards and Short Course) that included navigating the reef waves and left the door open to anyone that willing to take a riskier line both out and in.
When asked about setting a slightly controversial course, co-organiser Scott McLeod-Smith had this to say: “In ocean paddling, you’re not only competing against other athletes, you are also competing against the elements. This is what defines our sport. Today’s course didn’t force anyone to paddle or catch any large waves except at the start, so while it was risky at some points en route, you could still paddle around the reefs. It just wouldn’t be as fast.”
Said Mcleod-Smith: “It could both have been just an ordinary out and back paddle with no excitement and easily forgotten; or a legendary race that will challenge paddlers and be talked about for months to come. We chose the latter.”
Judging by the post-race banter and chatter, and the looks of exhilaration as paddlers crossed the finish line, it certainly had been a race full of excitement and one that will be fondly remembered. The race had safety craft from the Strand Surf Lifesaving Club and Station 9 NSRI stationed at key points and all paddlers were required to wear leashes and pfd’s.
Many positions were made up and lost throughout the field as paddlers rode amazing swells back towards the beach. Dawid Mocke and Tom Schilperoort raced neck and neck throughout the two laps but it was a large swell caught by Mocke (and propelling him at over 30km/h) that gave him and edge and his fourth win in the Series. Schilperoort made up very good ground by taking a shallower line through the reefs but an untimely broach in the surf line put paid to his chance at a win. Ivan Kruger from Edgemead had a very good race finishing in third. The young 20 year old is steadily improving and could soon be challenging for higher positions on the podium. Master paddler Bruce Neil, a veteran of the seas, showed up more than a few top paddlers by coming in a superb fourth while Olympian Shaun Rubenstein showed his improvement on the ocean by finishing just ahead of a past winner of the series and a fellow South African paddler Graeme Solomon.
The ladies race was once again dominated by Nikki Mocke, who along with Strand local Jami Hamlin, had to paddle through an enormous outside breaker during their second lap. So large was the wave that Mocke felt compelled to see if Hamlin was okay, but being an experienced ocean man, he maintained his composure. Robyn Smith showed her grit in big conditions by finishing just ahead of Bianca Beavit in third and East London local Samantha Murray, no stranger to big surf.
In the Juniors Shanti Stewart (SACS High) showed why he is a class act and finished well ahead of the fast improving Tyrone Smolders (Fish Hoek High). Bishops Canoe team captain Murray Walters finished off the junior podium in third position.
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