As the country relaxes restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, the surfski community in St Francis in the Eastern Cape has jumped at the opportunity to add a surfski downwind race to the weekend of SA flatwater marathon canoeing races, and their ski race has been awarded the national single surfski championships rights.
Canoeing South Africa rubber-stamped the China Silver Asset Management SA Surfski Championships sponsored by the World Surfski League on 10 October as the SA S1 Champs which will see the country’s best ocean racers battle it out for the national single ski titles.
The surfski championships form part of the P.W Harvey St Francis Paddle Fest 2020, giving paddlers three consecutive days on which they can challenge for national honours, with the surfski race preceding the K1 and K2 flatwater marathon canoeing racing on the St Francis estuary on 11 and 12 October.
This year’s national ocean racing showdown will be hosted by the St Francis Paddling Club. China Silver Asset Management World Surfski League Director of Operations Russell Sadler is looking forward to being able to throw support behind the event and also to be able to stage a national championship during the pandemic.
“China Silver and WSSL are delighted to be able to give a little something back to the sport that we are so passionate about despite it being such a tough year.
“We would have loved to have seen the six WSSL races run in the USA, Dublin, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Perth and Sydney this season but unfortunately it wasn’t to be in 2020. We will be back in 2021.
“The China Silver – World Surfski League SA Surfski Champs is going to be an extraordinary event.
“Coming out of COVID lockdown the country’s and indeed some of the world’s best surfski paddlers will be in town and raring to fight it out on the course for the national title.”
The organisers have set out two course options for the paddlers that will be confirmed closer to the event.
“The course is set to be between 15 and 22km long depending on weather and surf conditions.
“The main focus of the organising committee will paddler enjoyment and with that in mind course director Daryl Staples has mapped out a number of courses relating to the conditions to be expected at this time of year.
“Not only does the variation in course promise to entice paddlers from around the nation to the event, the sponsors have promised to make the event a memorable one,” Sadler added.
As arguably one of the strongest nations when it comes to ocean racing, the South African national championships will attract a stacked field in both the men’s and women’s races.
“At this stage entries are coming along nicely with a strong ORKA squad out of Cape Town including WSSL 2019 #2 Kenny Rice and the MacSquad contingent from Durban.
“The Mac squad head coach Lee McGregor expressed a keen interest in a number of the titles.
“Never to be discounted are the boys and girls from East London. We can expect a good showing from WSSL 2019 #8 Joshua Fenn backed by the ever-green Bevan Manson and Andy Birkett amongst a host of other stars out of Buffalo City.
“The ladies field at this stage is wide open with a number of the top class ladies yet to confirm their attendance.”