You don’t need to kayak on Sydney Harbour for long before you realise which paddling sport has become really popular. You’re cruising along at a nice pace through dawn waters in your sea-kayak, when a long white pencil-shaped boat with a hard-paddling rider zooms past you in a blur of flashing wing-blades. These speed machines are known as Ocean Racing Skis, and are the Formula 1 of the fitness paddling scene.
The popularity of this sport is being helped along in Sydney by the enthusiasm and boundless energy of a bloke names Dez Blanchfield, who late in 2008 started Blast Paddlers to help facilitate the growth of paddle groups in Sydney. Having seen my earlier post on the Balmoral Blast, Dez invited me to come and check out race-day at the Balmoral chapter.
What stands out is the incredible organisation of these events. Dez, unable to find the right “race day” software, simply commissioned and built his own. Now his paddlers can register online, race or run time trials, and before the ski is back on the car the results and paddlers times are already posted online and via email. This remarkable efficiency allows paddlers to monitor their times, and their personal progress, as they compete each week, and helps motivate their fitness and paddle training.
On this particular day the paddlers were doing a race with paddlers and support crew from the Long Reef SLSC to warm up for the Fenn Cup 2009 Series, an upcoming series of summer ocean races on the northern beaches. This race was an easy 18km paddle from Balmoral to the Roseville Bridge and back. Not that I saw much of it mind you, as I busy sitting at the start/finish line with a coffee and a fresh muffin!
At the end of the event, Dez handed out prizes to paddlers and congratulated the winners, before talking up the newest chapter of Blast Paddlers in Cronulla. It seems expansion is well and truly on the agenda, and can only be a good thing for this growing sport.
Lastly, my mate Olli, who had competed in the Blast race, convinced me to try his Fenn XT racing ski before I left. You can see my incredible performance on the ski here. Enjoy. 🙂