Shaw and Partners AORS – Race One
Dean’s Race Report
It was a gloomy start to first race in the Shaw and Partners Australian Ocean Racing Series (AORS). The rain was dumping as organizers went about the venue setup, the radar was only showing more yellow and red to the South.
As the start time drew closer and competitors started to fill the carpark. the sun pushed its way through the thick clouds and the wind increased giving competitors exactly what they needed for the downwind leg of the course.
A big field of race starved paddlers was on hand for the first event of the summer season amd being a major race in the National Series nothing (not even dumping rain) was going keep the competive field away.
On the line was the man to beat Cory Hill and with him a large number of top paddlers all very keen to knock him off his mantle.
The race was a two lap triangle course with nearly half the race downwind making for challenging and intertesting racing.
In the girls it was always going to be a race between two of of the best ocean athletes in the country. The veteran Bonnie Hancock from the Gold Coast and Central Coast youngster Jemma Smith. Hancock has been around on the ironwoman scene for many years and Smith is making her presence felt in a variety of water sports including Ironwoman, kayaking , surf lifesaving and ocean racing.
The race started in the protected waters of Fishermans Beach, headed East out into the fourteen knot Southerly with a long downwind section to Narrabeen and back to Fishermans.
Hill and Jackson Collins lead the group around the first lap with Tassie’s Sam Norton by himself in third followed by a whole bunch working together behind. Smith was out on her own on the first lap with a slight lead over Hancock and like the men, a big field of girls working together to catch them.
Collins is one of the new young guns in sprint kayaking. He had never beaten Hill before in an Ocean Race. Hill is the standout Ocean Paddler in the World today not having been off the dias in the last few years and with multiple Molokai and World Championships to his name.
It took a monumental effort from the ‘man mountain’ Collins to stay with Hill on the second lap. This was evident by the huge gap the pair had opened up on the rest of the field. Hill lead the final kilometers with Collins hanging onto his wash until the closing stages . Collins powerful sprint stroke kicked in with a hundred meters to go and he surged past Hill to take his first major ocean paddling event with Sam Norton rounding out the dias.
Smith maintained her lead throughout the race winning from Hancock and Tiarnee Massie.
Current Molokai to Oahu Standup Champ James Casey won a hard fought SUP race against grand master Dave Kissane.
One the stand outs of the day was Tommy Woodriff. At nearly fifty years of age Woodriff cleaned up a lot of the young guns and took out the tough over 40s category and finished sixth overall.
The Shaw and Partners AORS is a National Series with events in nearly every state and culminates with The Bridge to Beach Events in Sydney in late February 2020. Thanks to generous support of our sponsors the series boasts over $200K in prizemoney making it the richest Surf Ski Series ever.
Race 2 of the Shaw and Partners AORS will be held at the famous Bondi Beach in two weeks on October 26. (North Bondi Surf Ski Classic Race Info)