East London – The Biogen Pete Marlin Sursfki Race in East London has become one of the country’s “most prestigious paddling events”, and once again on November 4-5 a big field packed with repeat entrants will line up for the two-day downwind extravaganza.
Among the entrants are all 12 paddlers who have finished all the Pete Marlin Surfski Races since accurate records of finishers have been recorded and updated over the past 12 events.
Entries are still coming in for the two-day event that takes place along the East London coast, but with just under two weeks until the singles race on Saturday and Sunday’s doubles event, there are already more than 300 paddlers on the entry list. Most of the paddlers will be competing over both days, meaning each day’s racing comfortably has a start list of more than 250 competitors.
Well-known Durban paddler Barry Lewin is one of those paddlers hoping for a lucky 13th finish next month and he is clearly excited to be making the trip from Durban to East London for what he firmly believes has grown into South Africa’s most prestigious surfski event.
“The Pete Marlin, because of a lot of factors – the length of the course; the time of the year; and specifically the great sponsors the race which has meant there is very good prizemoney – has become the most prestigious race on the South African calendar,” said Lewin. “That means all the top guys are going to be there.
“Over the last 10 years, it has become by far the most competitive and most prestigious race because of the quality of guys on the start line, and this year is going to be no different. Because it is also the South African Championships the guys are super fit and raring to go, so I think the racing is going to be super exciting.”
However, Lewin is not only taking part in what is officially his 13th consecutive event because of the racing. The “vibe” of the event keeps drawing him back to what he thinks is one of the best weekends of surfski racing in the country.
“The thing that initially attracted me to East London many years ago was the amazing hospitality around the event. People open their homes, host paddlers from around the country and I always felt I was part of a community of such amazing people … that was what first drew me to the race.
“Since Charl (van Wyk, the Race Director) has taken over, the organisation of the race has been unreal. Everything runs so smoothly and you really know that you are at a race of such quality. All the boxes are ticked and the communication is amazing and there is a great sense of everything being taken care of thanks to Charl and his team.
“We are very lucky in South Africa to paddle in some amazing place and one of the things that keeps bringing me back to East London is their stunning coastline. Coming around Yellow Sands Point can be such a beautiful experience.
“I always love how “alive” the sea is there, with lots of ocean current and tons of wind … it is really what surfski paddling is all about.
“Even the years that have not had a lot of wind, they still run point-to-point races which are still technical and exciting and fun to race.
“Of course the likelihood of getting downwind conditions in East London is pretty good. Obviously we cannot control the weather conditions for a race but we can make the most of it when it does blow and they always make the best of the conditions.”
The final race course is dependent on wind and weather conditions with the organisers aiming to give paddlers an 18-25km downwind course, either finishing at Nahoon, Orient Beach, or Yellow Sands.
The following are the paddlers who have officially finished 12 Biogen Pete Marlin Surfski Events:
Duncan Boyd (Border)
Keith Flemmer (Johannesburg)
Derek Hendry (Border)
Iain Hume (Johannesburg)
Barry Lewin (Durban)
David Puttergill (Border)
Hennie Roos (Border)
Brendon Thompson (Border)
Cassie van Heerden (Border)
Andre van Wyk (Border)
Angus Warren (Border)
Andre Wood (Border)