Southern Shamaal PE to EL Solo Challenge

Thursday, 28 October 2010 08:05 | Written by  Southern Shamaal
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Southern Shamaal PE2EL Challenge Southern Shamaal PE2EL Challenge Credits: Owen Middleton, Marc Cloete,

Dec 9, 2010 will see the start of one of the World’s longest running Ocean Paddling races. The Port Elizabeth to East London Solo Challenge holds iconic status among South African paddlers as an ultra distance event where simply finishing is a victory.

Scarce Sponsorship

The ‘Challenge’ as it is known was starting to weaken in the run up to the 2006 event.  Sponsorship was hard to get and the entrants were getting older! The growth of Surfski in South Africa and the World was not being felt in this race. Traditionally held every two years it was decided on the back of a three year sponsorship agreement with Shamaal International to introduce a team element into the 2008 race. The idea was to get paddlers to try parts of the course and decide if they had what it takes to do the complete event.

Matt Bouman

Matt Bouman - shattered after day 1 - 2008 team event

2008: Trial of the Team Race Concept

The 2008 teams were integrated into the solo event and on the basis of the positive feedback received 2009 was set as a “Team’s Only” event – run downwind. It was a huge success and much enjoyed by all - a new “relaxed” format of the Solo Challenge had been born.

Woody Cape

The notorious Woody Cape has been benign for the last four years - will it kick this year?

2010: Solo Challenge

2010 sees the Solo Challenge back and in good health. Over 100 paddlers have entered so far and the field on race day is expected to exceed 120. R40 000 in prize money is up for grabs and all logistics, safety and support are in place.

Comedy Club

No comment required!

Race Director

Race Director is the popular Anton Erasmus (Anton is known to be firm but fair). Anton said, “We have changed a few things this year – no need to beach at the halfway points – unless you want to. There will be a buoy just off the backline which you have to pass on the landward side.

“While this takes out the potential surf line disasters – particularly at Fish and Kidds Beach- it does throw up the question ‘Do I carry extra juice for 30 km or do I risk the surf?’.  Again we will assess the wind conditions and will maximize the start window to make best use of what the weather gods throw at us."

Southern Shamaal

The race takes place in some of the most beautiful scenery in South Africa (Pic: Owen Middleton)

“The real Challenge is pitting your fitness and skill against Mother Nature – a fickle lady – Currents, surf, heat, wind and Blue Bottles all pose potential threats. 2010 will be no different – Woody Cape has been quiet over the past four years – will this be the year when it stands up to its reputation?  Will the Westerly blow giving the paddlers a helter-skelter ride to East London?  What about the dreaded currents at Cove Rock – stay close or head out to sea? Regardless, when you finally arrive at Orient Beach, no matter whether you are first or last, you will be a hero.

“Qualifiers are essential as they give the paddler an assessment of their ability and allows us to consider your competence to take on the ultimate paddling Challenge.”

A double takes flight in the shorebreak during the 2008 event.



Port Elizabeth Qualifier

  • Where: start/finish – Likely Hobie Beach and same finish
  • When: 31st October, time depends on weather but plan 6.30 am
  • What:  distance, course etc...out and back 45km direction depends on weather
  • Qualifier organiser - Anton Erasmus 082 4595163

Port Alfred Qualifier

  • Where: Port Alfred. Takes place over the weekend – two paddles – best day will be the long one 45km down wind
  • When: 30th October / 1st November, depends on the weather but plan early starts (7 am)
  • What:  distance, course etc...Down winds either starting or finishing in Port Alfred 45 km
  • Qualifier organiser - Brendon Thompson 083 2766790

East London Qualifier

  • Where: Kidds Beach to Gonubie early start 8 am
  • When: 20th November, time 8 am
  • What:  distance, course etc...45 km
  • Qualifier organiser - Charl van Wyk 083 4471500

Durban Qualifier

  • Where: start/finish Notice will go out in the week before weather determines the route
  • When: 30th October, time (?) weather determined
  • What:  distance, course etc...45 km down wind
  • Qualifier organiser – Angus 0833099249  check website

Cape Town

The Capies did their first qualifier on 24 October – two more will take place – Robbie Bester (call: 0824991529) will be doing one at Strand and Richard Kohler (call: 0832996569)will set up one at Milnerton.

Southern Shamaal

Race Organisers

Zports are again running the logistics of the race with Mike Zoetmulder in control. Zoets has run the race since 2008 and says  - With entries closing on 7 November we could well have the biggest Solo field in years.

Southern Shamaal

Race Charity – sponsored paddle

A difference this year will be the race charity angle. Run on the “old school” sponsored walk format the organizers are trying to raise R250 000 for paddling development in RSA. Development in this regard is the work of getting young people of all ages, race and classes into the sport of paddling.

Five partner clubs have been selected and each stands to gain R50 000 in cash through Surfski South Africa and the PE EL Solo Challenge.

  • Fish Hoek – Cape Town.
  • Blue Waters – PE
  • Border Canoe Club  - East London
  • Undersea – Durban
  • Daubs – Jhb.

So how does it work?

Entrants are asked to beg, bribe, do whatever it takes to convince the people they love, work with, say hi to now and again etc etc to sponsor them a rate per kilometre.

R0.25 : R0.50 ; R1.00 ; R1.50 ; R2.00 are the options and the race is 250km.

Each paddler is challenged to raise R2 500.


Epic Kayaks are going to give a V10 Performance Ski to the paddler raising the most money & are going to enter all who raise cash into a draw to win a mid wing full carbon blade.

Visit to download your sponsorship form.

Videos - 2008 Event

Day 1


Day 2

Day 3

Day 4


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