Fish Hoek, Cape Town, home to current and past World Surfski Champions, will soon be swamped with paddlers from all over the world to take part in the Cape Town Summer Surfski Festival. The Festival starts this weekend with the Butlers Pizza Peter Creese Lighthouse Race, followed by the Cape Town Downwind race on the 15th or 16th of December, and then the big daddy of Surfski Races, the Fenn Cape Point Challenge on the 21st of December.
“I spend the year travelling to races around the world, so for me it is such a privilege to welcome international paddlers to my home waters and show them our beautiful city and country,” says surfski legend, Dawid Mocke. “The Fenn Cape Point Challenge has really become an iconic and very competitive race. But above all it is just amazing racing around the Cape of Good Hope.”
The Cape Town Downwind is a shorter, faster, more intense race which as the name implies is raced downwind. The 18km course highlights the beauty of the Cape Point and False Bay coastlines and ensures the paddlers have to push hard the entire way for a win. Part of the route includes the world’s most well-known downwind paddling runs – the famous Millers Run.
“Cape Town is a mystical place for all who surfski, as a paddler it’s a place you have to visit atleast once in your life,” French paddler, Roland Lebeau explains why he has come to the festival. “These races are a great chance for us international paddlers to focus on our downwind paddling, and besides that, it’s freezing in France at the moment, so what better reason to be here in beautiful Cape Town.”
The Fenn Cape Point Challenge is one of the most historic races in the history of Surfski. The 50km route along one of the most rugged coastlines in the world starts in Scarborough and takes paddlers around Cape Point all the way to Fish Hoek. Better known as THE most gruelling one day surfski race of the year, the race always lives up to its reputation, creating an honour and bond amongst those who are simply able to just finish it.
“Four weeks ago I was lucky enough to come to South Africa. I have always heard that Fish Hoek was the Mecca of surfski paddling and as such, it has been a dream destination of mine since I started the sport,” says American paddler, Austin Kiefer. “I chose November and December, because of the Cape Town Summer Surfski Series and the two big races at the end of the year, the Cape Town Downwind and Cape Point. For almost three months leading up to the Fenn Cape Point Challenge there are races every weekend! As a paddler looking to gain race experience and learn from paddling with the best, the December festival is a dream come true. Every weekend there are races boasting some of the best conditions in the world and certainly the best athletes the sport has to offer. This is my first trip overseas for Surfski racing and so far, I am loving it. I can’t wait for the Cape Town Downwind and the Cape Point Challenge. They will definitely be the two biggest races I have ever competed in. I’m not particularly concerned with my results, I’m just hoping for a howling Southeaster!”
“I came to South African for the Fish River Canoe Marathon in September this year, and have been staying and continuing my training in Fish Hoek for the Festival,” says French Paddler, Valentin Henot. “I decided to stay for these races because they are the main surfski races in SA, with the strongest field of athletes. And we all know that Cape Town has some awesome downwind conditions, and this is what I love! I am hoping to come top 15 for Cape town Downwind, and a top 20 in the Fenn Cape Point Challenge – I am still a bit young for a race this long); but we will see what happens on the day, maybe if it’s a good day, you never know, I could win!”
Another reason the festival races have become so popular is because of the incredible prize money on offer. With R200 000 in total for the Cape Town Downwind and R200 000.00 for the Fenn Cape Point Challenge, it’s no wonder why these races attract the top paddlers in the world. Other top paddlers joining the Festival include American Austin Kiefer, South African greats Hank McGregor, Sean Rice and Dawid Mocke, Valentin Henot from France, Brendan Rice from Australia, Angie Mouden from France, Richard Holme from Sweden and Michael Dobler from Germany, to mention a few.
For more information please visit http://www.capetownsurfski.com/. You can also follow them live on facebook and twitter for up to date race results and happenings.