Paddler Profile: Herman Chalupsky

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Herman Chalupsky claims that the real reason he aims to finish first at any race is to ensure that there's no one ahead of him in line at the pub.

Herman Chalupsky Dubai 2007
Herman pips brother Oscar in Dubai - 2007 (Pic: Alain Jaques)

It's a good line from a wry man who specializes in cockney rhyme and terrible quips but after hanging out with him far more than I'd care to admit, it happens to be deadly accurate. The only kink in my theory is that the night before his dominating win at Molokai in 2004 he and Oscar downed 10 Miller's each. After the race he consumed twice that number and, well, beer consumption aside, he loves dogs, rugby, coffee, beautiful women, insulting Red Sea Pedestrians and, well, more beer. How does this all relate to the fact that Herman Chalupsky is on the short list of men likely to be crowned the next Molokai champion? I'm not sure other than to say that when Herman "the German" finds something he fancies he pursues it with a quiet, single-minded determination that may help explain why he's one of the greatest surf ski paddlers the sport has ever known. After twenty-five years at the top of the aquatic food chain, Herman's focus and training time may wane but when the bachelor from Durban is fit and properly motivated anyone who aims to beat him to the line in Hawaii Kai better have an insatiable thirst.

Herman Chalupsky Durban World Cup 2007
Herman comes in 7th in Durban, World Cup 2007 (Pic: Gameplan Media)

Age: 43



When did you start paddling?

Started in a canoe at age 7 in Durban harbour with my father who was the first Springbok Canoeing captain.  I started with Nippers, surf lifesaving, and got into a ski at about age 14.

Were you competing with Oscar even then?

No - I started competing with him at about age 18 - he was twice my size!  (Points towards Oscar) He was that size even then! 

Do you paddle rivers?

Yep, done all the big races in South Africa, won the Berg, won the Sella with Oscar in 1986

What was it like growing up with Oscar in the family?

Difficult!  He really does compete in every single aspect of life...

How come you've only won Molokai twice and Oscar has 11 victories?

He's done twice as many as I have - and I prefer other races - shorter stuff.

Are you going to beat Oscar this year?

I'm going to try to!

Do you also head to the north early on in the race?  How do you navigate?  Will you stick with Oscar at the beginning?

No - you can't see anyone else.  I just set the waypoint on Koko Head and follow the arrow; heading to the right for the first hour or so.

What's you best record?

2 Molo, 20 Beaches; Mayor's Cup; Record Cape Point; World Seakaying Championships in Canada (1999). 

Best: The twenty beaches - around 2001. Beat the Australians in Australia!

What conditions do you prefer?

25-30km, downwind.  The only reason we used to do those long races was that there was nothing else to do

Which means you're unlikely to do another Cape Point?

It's too long - who wants to go slogging all that way into the wind?  They should start it at Platboom - sprint 5km into the wind, turn downwind at the Point and go all the way to Fish Hoek.


Epic Mid-wing set to 2.10.  Set it and leave it!


Epic V10 Elite.

What do you think of the concept of the World Series?

Not bad - there's a problem with the fact that it's easy to score points in some races - like the Caribbean races.  At the moment the guys are going to go where the money is - it'll be more meaningful when there's money for the world series.

What do you do?

Property broker in Durban - commercial properties - we've been doing it for twenty years now.

Herman Chalupsky Durban World Cup 2007
Herman screaming downwind - Durban World Cup 2007 (Pic: Gameplan Media)

Published in Pacific

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