Unless you are one of the few that live in a cave or haven’t taken to social media, you have probably heard that there is going to be some great stuff going on in the Ocean Paddling world this season.
Due to a significant financial commitment Shaw and Partners have thrown their weight behind the sport here in Australia and in some cases, internationally.
Shaw and Partners CEO Earl Evans is an avid paddler and recently competed in the Molokai event. “Surf Ski Paddling is a phenomenal sport that is healthy for the body and mind plus open to all ages. A wonderful activity and with the massive leaps made in the design of surf skis and the range available is opening up the sport to all. The ability to paddle in ocean, lakes and harbour etc is amazing and the sport itself has an incredible few years ahead. Shaw and Partners as a firm loves to be in active, community-based sports. This is right at the top of the list for us,” said Evans.
This season will see the richest ever Ocean Paddling Series to be held in Australia. Over two races alone an astounding $125k will go out in prize money. Combine that with all the other events and the series prize money and prizes, we expect to see somewhere in the vicinity of $175k given out over the 18/19 season.
A large number of races will make up this season. Points will work differently to previous years with fewer events required to reach your maximum possible points. Four major races will feature along with a floating major event and a large number of series races. Competitors will only have to do three of these major events and three of any of the other series events to secure their maximum points. Competitors can compete in as many as they like.
Organisers have designed the series this way to enable competitors to pick and choose their events. Race organisers will benefit from competitors picking races that they may accrue points easily in.
The other big advantage to paddlers is that they can now compete in both single and double events. To reach your maximum points in the doubles you need only do one major and two of the other series events.
Most of the events from last season are part of the upcoming season. The main change being the removal of the Palm to Pines to fit in the reborn Shaw and Partners 20 Beaches Ocean Classic.
New this season will see our first Hobart event, the Surf Safari.
The Fenn West Coast Downwind takes the role of the floating major event this season. The floaters are at a new location every year.
Series organiser Dean Gardiner from Oceanpaddler is hoping that all craft suppliers will get behind the series this season. “It would be great to see all the distributors and manufacturers supporting the sport here in Australia. To date we have had to rely on the support we get from companies like Shaw and Partners and Thorzt plus Fenn, Epic Nelo and Stellar. All the sellers of craft in this country benefit from what we have created so it would be good to see them all involved,” said Gardiner.
“Companies like Vaikobi, Zhik, Sharkskin and Mocke along with Gara Paddles are also huge supporters of what we do,” said Gardiner.
Hobart’s Don Marsh is the man behind the newest event in the series and is looking forward to seeing some of the countries best make their way to the “Apple Isle”. “We are really excited about hosting an event down here this year.” “We have had the Surf Safari for a very long time in Hobart, now to have it as part of the AORS is a big deal for us,” said Marsh.
For those wishing to travel to the Queensland events, it has been made easy as they are now a week apart. “We are planning on taking possibly two trailers of skis up from Sydney to the Gold Coast event, then leaving them there for the Lifeflight race the following weekend on the Sunshine Coast,” said Gardiner.
This will make it easy for Sydney competitors who can fly in and fly out of both locations.
The rebirth of the 20 Beaches is a significant event for the Ocean Paddling community. This event has been running since 1991 and has the names of all of Australia’s best ocean paddler’s etched into the perpetual trophy.
With new owners of the event, it is hoped that the previous problems that have dogged the event in the past will not be prevalent this season. The committee involved in organising this season have taken the event very seriously and have left no stone unturned to make sure the event lives up to the reputation it deserves.
Chairman of the 20 Beaches organising committee Justin Ryan has put together a pretty formidable team to bring the race back. “Great to be involved with a group of other passionate paddlers in getting this iconic race back on the paddling calendar and particularly excited to have the race as a Major in the AORS,” said Ryan. “Very grateful for the support and vision of Shaw and Partners as the lead sponsor as well as Dean Gardiner and Yanda Morison as race directors,” he said.
For our WA competitors, all Triple SSS events are part of the Series and with two Majors to be held in the West only one interstate trip will be required to gain maximum points.
The first event will kick off on the 25th of August with the Pacifica Downwind at Coffs Harbour.