A New Fat Paddler Challenge – Mauritius Ocean Classic, the Island Shamaal 28km surfski race

Will the Stellar SR surf ski hold the Fat Paddler upright? Only one way to tell....

Will the Stellar SR surf ski hold the Fat Paddler upright? Only one way to find out….

I often get asked after any major adventure, “So FP, what’s next?”. This year, with the help of a few major commercial supporters, Team Fat Paddler has put together a challenge of a lifetime. A few of us are going to train our butts off on surf skis for six months, then get on a plane and fly to the tropical paradise that is Mauritius and attempt to take part in the Island Shamaal, the Mauritius leg of the Surfski World Series.

If you haven’t heard of it let me paint a picture. Mauritius is a tropical island a fair distance to the east of Madagascar, Africa. It’s a small island surrounded by coral reefs and lagoons, which protect the island from ocean swell coming off the Indian Ocean. The Island Shamaal takes paddlers out cross the reef, through surf breaks and out into the ocean swell, where they have to paddle 28kms in the hot tropical sun before attempting to finish the race via a small channel through the reef that likes to throw up waves of up to 18 feet (well, give or take!). Some years the race is relatively gentle, but at 28kms its no walk in the part. Interested in more? Check the video of the 2010 race.

Of course, I don’t even paddle a surfski. I’m a fat boy in a comfortable whitewater boat that shuns distance and speed for fast and furious excitement amongst the rocks and surf. So for me this is a huge challenge, one which I have no idea if I’m even capable of achieving. Of course, that’s never stopped me before, so it’ll be onto training and see how we go!

I wont of course be doing it alone. Team Fat Paddler is yet to finalise numbers but my old mate Nat from sydneysurfski.com will be coming, as will a new member of Team Fat Paddler, Brian from Adelaide. Nat and Brian already paddle skis so they are at a huge advantage, but I’m a competitive bastard so they better watch out!

Fortunately Stellar Kayaks and Slipstream Surf have come to the party to lend me a Stellar SR surfski to start my training on, and as of today I have a shiny new ski sitting in my kayak rack. It looks beautiful… but then I haven’t had the joy of falling off it yet!! Needless to say I’m looking forward to getting her out for a burn (or swim!) this Christmas!

If you haven’t heard of Stellar Kayaks or their surf skis, here’s a short vid of some Stellar paddlers catching some runs up north in Queensland.

As nervous as I am, I must admit it looks like fun! I guess the next few paddle sessions will let me know whether its fun or just wet – ha! Our training progress and our trip to Mauritius will all be lovingly captured on a dedicated site for the event (MauritiusPaddlers.com) or via our aptly named twitter account @PaddleOrDrown. Cheers, FP

The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith