South Coast Surfski Event

Last weekend saw the final event in this years surfski series. Sponsored by Icon Surfskis this is a great series with the highlight this year being the well run event in great conditions down at Saunton. Branksome surf club though came as close to matching that event here as possible, great organisation, plenty of entries and beautiful weather for most of the day along with a good collection of trade stands gave a professional feel to the event and several onlookers were keen to learn what was going on.

The course was essentially variations on a triangular circuit with differing distances depending on age group/class.

I am very new to this scene so cant pass educated comment but it seems that the classes for the youngsters are undersubscribed, possibly due to the logistics of getting skis around or maybe just the distances involved in the travel, who knows but it would be good to see more kids around in next years series. Now I am selling roof bars into the sport perhaps more parents will be able to get the skis loaded!

The youth classes raced about 6km along the coast and back with no real opportunity to get the moderate runs that were available further out, presumably this is a safety issue but would they gain more experience and get more fun from a course that involved as much run catching as possible? It was impossible to see how the race panned out but the final results were….

U16 Boys

U16 Girls

Josh Newing

Eva Murphy

Freddie Hedger

Grace Clark

Tom Bolt

Kierra Harrrington

Matt Hewitt


Josh Caton


Scooby Lark


Jeffrey Shepherd


U16 Girls Doubles


Claudia Burrows + Jasmin Guess - England


U19 Ladies


Eloise Neighbour


Emma Challacombe



U19 Men


Brandon Lark


Later it was the turn of the seniors/ladies and masters, all on one start line it made for an impressive line up. Before the off a respectful one minutes silence was held in memory of Andy Maycock who tragically passed away whilst out on his ski last month. He was known to all of us through one discipline or another as a paddler, friend and competitor and will be sadly missed. It was particularly good to see his brother Pete competing with his young son.

When the whistle sounded for the start it was a quick Le Mans style entry into the skis and the race began in earnest. The lead unsurprisingly was taken immediately by Mark Ressel and Dan Humble probably the two best ski riders around along with the absent Glen Eldridge. Tacked on to their tail was Ivan Lawler in full Epic livery “all the gear and no idea” but conditions were not big and fresh from doing a bit more training for the Marathon Nationals last week he could not be written off.

In the womens class Jenna Hawkey was clearly the paddler to watch, just back from a big victory in the Nelo summer Challenge and 4th in last years Dubai Shamaal it was hard to see how anyone else could touch her. In fact I cant have been the only male hoping for the sake of my pride that I would not see her in front of me! Up against her was local girl Chloe Bunnett, on her own stretch of water was the only real threat.

By the first turn bouy the three leading men had broken away and picked their rather differing routes to the next marker. Dan Humble with the benefit of eyesight younger than 40yrs old actually aimed at the bouy where Ressel and Lawler could only head vaguely in the general direction. As it panned out the line Humble took was probably the shortest but Lawler benefited from some decent runs out deeper and on his final cut in to the marker, Ressel on the other hand had stayed too far out and lost a lot of time on both the other two. It was Lawler who came round the bouy about one minute ahead of Humble. From there it was a slog into the wind and with the benefit of a faster ski Lawler increased his lead to about two minutes and would not be caught. Humble finished a close second but Ressel clearly out of sorts on the day came in a fair way down. Ultimately this cost Mark Ressel the series title which by rights he should have won, he was clearly the best rider in the rougher conditions in Saunton but this was not to be his day. Instead the title went to Ivan Lawler primarily due to two of the events being held on flat water and the next nearest contender being Dan Humble racing a spec ski not specifically designed for the endurance events. So it was a victory for style over substance, perhaps the series should seek out bigger conditions where possible in future. I also think the spec ski guys will eventually have to concede that the momentum in the ski world is going in the direction of the Long distance skis and they may have to look at change as an option.

As expected the womens event was taken by Jenna Hawkey but it certainly was no walkover, considering she has a ski background and is now a full time athlete within the Performance System she was held well by the local amateur Chloe Bunnett who seems to be improving with each race. When the time comes for the Dubai Shamaal it will be a tough call to pick the winner.

The masters classes are some of the hardest fought events and again with a difference in the type of ski used it is hard to decide who is the best paddler, the race was won by Steve Hardman who also took the Icon Ski series prize in the post event draw, a very good days work! Behind him and all very close were Simon Garbutt and Colin Biggles Smith.

The prizegiving included a lucky draw with prizes donated by Icon, Ultimate and Childsplay surf gear which is a really nice feature of these events, lots of people go home with something and the atmosphere is a very welcoming one, I cannot recommend this sport enough to anyone who hasn’t tried it yet, the only issue would be finding a ski but if enquiries are made in plenty of time the trade stands and clubs should be able to help you out, it is worth a try!

Thanks to Ian Robinson for his enthusiasm and fine organisation this event was a big success, thanks also to Branksome Chine SLC who provided safety cover and to Icon for sponsoring the whole series. Hopefully next year will see a further increase in attendance, certainly I can recommend it to any marathon paddlers who are getting a little jaded with the divisional races.

For anyone who was there and would like to contact the trade stands they were

  • Ultimate Kayaks (Epic and Nelo)
  • Childsplay Surfgear (Epic, Red 7, clothing)
  • Saffa Kayaks (Honcho Skis)
  • Lilliput Physiotherapy centre.

Feature Product

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