Lauren Smith - 20 Beaches

Wednesday, 22-Dec-10 10:27:50 UTC

The final race in the fantastic Sydney OceanSeries, and undoubtedly the hardest was the 20 beaches, starting all the way from the top of Sydney’s northern beaches at Palm Beach, and finally finishing at Freshwater SLSC, some 23km later.

After racing in all the events in this year’s series, and leading the women’s overall pointscore, I was hoping for a strong result to secure my spot at the top of the women’s category, and win that plane ticket to attend any surfski race in the world. However, knowing the calibre of the field that the 20 Beaches normally draws, I knew the women’s field was going to be bigger and stronger than any of the races this year. I was not wrong, with Queensland ski specialists Kirsty Homes, Kelly Jury, flatwater paddlers Bernadette Wallace and Alyce Burnett, and even New Zealand’s Katie Pocock making the trip over to race.

Despite a small dilemma in deciding whether to swap boats to a smaller volume one just before the race, we were soon headed out off Palm Beach.  (I decided to go with the M Volume Nelo). As usual, the start of the race involved a lot of hustle and bustle, with most paddlers jostling for position on the line right up till the siren was blown.  I got off to a really good start, probably my best start all year, and found some clean water and nice wash off the back of a few male paddlers for the first section of the race. The wind was at our backs from the get go, and I took off hard trying to take advantage of my good start, and the runners that the wind was providing.

As far as I could tell I was leading the ladies race, until about 3 or 4km in when Kirsty Holmes pulled up along side me and went past me. I set off on her tail following her for about half the race and trying not to let her get too far in front. For the most part, I managed to keep her lead on me to about 50-100m, but at about the halfway point she pulled away and increased her lead on me to about 200-300m.

At this point I tried to concentrate on keeping her lead to a minimum, and started to link up some great runs coming past Long Reef.  I was still feeling pretty good at this point, and was able to work really hard on the runs. I still couldn’t see Kirsty and thought that I would have second place wrapped up if I kept up this pace. This good feeling was soon interrupted at about 5k to go by a strong westerly wind that changed the race dynamics and had us struggling against a strong side wind/chop. I kept my head down and really tried to grind it out rather than letting the wind push me around. I could see Manly and Freshie in the distance now and knew that there was not far to go.

All of a sudden I had a look around and spotted Kirsty. She was about 100m further into shore than me, but I had about a 50m lead on her. This was it for me and I decided to really give it all I had for the remainder of the race. I could see my lead increasing as we headed towards the final finishing buoy, and despite the last 2-3km slog into a headwind, knowing that I was in the lead made the pain go away for a little. 

Thanks so much to Team Nelo, and Jimmy and Nigel for helping me out on the day with my last minute boat changes! Also a big congratulations to all the other Nelo Surfski paddlers out there yesterday, a great effort taking out the open men’s, women’s, junior women’s, over 40’s and over 50’s categories. Awesome boats! Overall, the 20 Beaches was a great race, with a high quality field, which is increasing in numbers every year. The conditions ended up being great and I was stoked to get a win in such a race.


Tim Jacobs 20 Beaches post-race interview

Sunday, 19-Dec-10 22:53:07 UTC

Tim Jacobs continues Ocean Series dominance with a win at the 20 Beaches race

Sunday, 19-Dec-10 22:32:17 UTC

After a disappointing race in Dubai two weeks previously I was determined to not finish the season on a low note.
Life had been really busy after Dubai trying to catch up on everything work related that I missed while I was away but I got a couple of good nights sleep leading into the race and also some good training paddles.
Race day I was ‘on’, my energy was back and I had a feeling that it was going to be a good race.
Standing on the sand at Palm Beach the wind defied what the forecasters were predicting and every minute we waiting the wind swung more and more North, perfect.
With minimal swell around we were going to be chasing small 2 foot wind chop the whole way down to Long Reef and then cross chop to Freshwater.
The start was even enough for everyone and we were in the runs from the first stroke.
Jeremy Cotter went out fast with Murray Stewart and Tate Smith close behind.
From my first stroke I felt comfortable, wasn’t rushing anything and was feeling strong through the water. (no rollercoaster’s before this race).
By the time we hit Whale Beach headland 3km in I only had Jeremy in front of me and from there we set our own lines heading for Long Reef. My line was wider than Jezza’s but we were trading run for run 100-200m apart.
The runs lined up perfectly for a straight push wide around Long Reef headland and the ‘croc’ didn’t miss a run, popping over and down everything in it’s path.
My race plan was to stay even with the front contenders up until Long Reef and then drop the hammer and head for home. I had extra incentive this year due to the fact that we were finishing at my home beach, Freshwater.
From the race reports I pulled away around North Narrabeen, about 3km before Long Reef but I was comfortable and why not hit Longy with a lead?
The runs stood up for me and I couldn’t miss them.
As long as I didn’t miss a run I knew that they would not be able to catch me, I was sitting around 17+km/h and they would have to be pulling 18 or more to be catching.
Long Reef I had about 100m and this was now my home stretch of water. 6km to go and a course that I paddle nearly everyday when the wind is right.
The course and conditions got more technical after Long Reef as the wind was coming over our right shoulder pushing us wide when we wanted to start cutting in.
I didn’t look around from here, if they were catching me at this pace I didn’t have much more to give, I had the last turning can in my sights and didn’t want to loose it from here.
My work paid off and my lead had increased to a couple of hundred metres with 1km too go.
A tough last kilometre, punching into a 20knot head wind.
The finish could not come soon enough after 23.5km I had the race won by just over 1 minute.
Six from six undefeated races in the Ocean Series, not a bad way to go.
Post race, time for a quick break, my brother Pete’s bucks party till 3.30am then up with the kids at 6.30am.
Next race on the calendar is the last of the Fenn Cup races in January and then the Doctor World Cup the following week in Perth.
Lets see if I can get the monkey off my back in that race.

Thanks everyone and have a great Christmas.



Nelo Teams Challenge - The Doctor 2011 (Updated)

Monday, 13-Dec-10 22:28:52 UTC article:

The big news for those competing in The Doctor is that Nelo have come on boards as the Naming Sponsor for the Teams Challenge (NTC).  This means that the biggest name in flatwater now joins the biggest name in ocean racing (Fenn) as the major craft sponsors of this years event.

How does it work?

Competitors are deemed to be from the State or Country in which they first raced competitively in their chosen dicipline.
The best 4 results from any state or country will count towards the NTC points. So the teams are selected post event.

Points are derived from the following categories.
- Open Male
- Open Female
- Over 40 Male/Female
- Under 20 Male/Female
- SUP unlimited/Male/Female

For example:
- NSW gets a win in the Under 20 male (1 point) 2nd and 3rd in the Open Female ( 2 and 3 points) and a 5th in the SUP male (5 points)  = Total 11 points
- South Africa win the Open male (1 point), win the SUP male (1 point), 8th and 9th in the Under 20 male (8 and 9 points)  = Total 19 points
- WA wins the Open female (1 point), 2nd in the SUP male (2 points), 2nd Open male (2 points) and wins the SUP female (1 point) = Total 6 points

The team with the lowest points win, so WA win the Nelo Teams Challenge , good work WA Champs!

1st Team $3,000
2nd Team $1,200
3rd Team $800

More info: and


Michele Eray - Battle of the Toughest in Dubai

Tuesday, 07-Dec-10 10:31:17 UTC

Photo Rob Mousley (

Wow, what a HOT race. Seriously the hottest I have ever been for 2 hours. I actually felt like my head was going to explode and to be honest I was hoping it would, just to end the suffering!

Two days before the race I woke up with a raging sore throat. I took all the precautionary meds, like Echinacea and Vitamin C, lots of water, and slept for an extra 2 hours. It didn’t hold it off and the next day I woke up with a blocked head, runny nose, and stuffy chest. Lovely! The best part is that most of the sinus medication is banned according to Drug Free Sport. Now most of the ski paddlers aren’t on the program, and probably don’t even get tested. I however, have been monitored for the past 4 years, thanks to my flat water and Olympic background. So it was good old Olbas and Vicks to open my breathing bits!

The Race

Woke up to NO WIND. I stayed positive and when the flags started to move I felt some relief. This was short-lived, as by the time we got to the race start venue, it had died off completely. As usual, a mad start. Not my greatest, but managed to catch up to Nikki quite easily. Just sat behind and conserved my energy. After we turned, I tried to stick to an outside line. Nikki went hammer and tongs, and opened a gap. I was wondering how I was going to finish, let alone win. After some nice, ice-cold Octane juice from PVM (which I luckily froze the night before), I felt heaps better and decided that sick or not, I didn’t fly all this way to come second.  I put in a hard charge, and managed to haul her in and open up a gap. Se must have been having a bad patch, and the gap opened further. Then the beginning of my “desert death” started! I felt so utterly crap that I convinced myself that if I finished the race, I could stop paddling forever! Sad, yes.

Amazingly I hit the last 4km of flat water first. I was quite far right and I could see Nikki to my left. It seemed the better line going into the current and her and another paddler closed a small part of the gap. I put my head down and tried to focus on my technique and make the NeloSki move into the current. I felt a bit better and went for a hard but sustainable pace. Looking behind me, I got that “hunted” feeling as I saw a group of paddlers putting the hammer down to chase me, with Nikki sitting on the wash. There was no way I wanted to be caught like that, and I tried to hold them off. Luckily the finish came only just soon enough, and they all finished 20m behind me. Totally shattered at the finish, I couldn’t get any air as it felt like my throat had closed off. Took a while to feel human again. It’s always great to race someone who never gives up, and Nikki never did! Relief is an understatement, and I was really happy to get off the water! Ruth Highman from Perth was 3rd, with Chloe Bunnett in 4th. The Think guys had a stormer with Ben Allen winning and Sean Rice in 3rd. Dawid, the most consistent guy on the paddling circuit for sure, was 2nd, and won the Overall ISPA Title again!

So that is my 3rd win a row at the Dubai Shamaal. A pit there is no incentive for the women to sweeten the deal


Thanks to Andre and the Nelo Team for the awesome ski (very cool branding) and team kit and VIBE! Well done to Ben Brown, a total newbie to ski paddling and getting a top 20.

I flew home Saturday, and caught the final race of the Discovery/Sunglass Hut Series at Fish Hoek beach. Felt horrendous to try and paddle with fatigue and sickness, but all I needed to do was to finish to take the Series win, so I maintained a steady pace with a pre-determined heart rate, and enjoyed the downwind on the way back in from the Lighthouse, to get 2nd behind Nikki. I am back in Plett now for some R&R, then it’s back to CT for the Cape Point Challenge.

Michele Eray


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