US Champs 2007 - Update

Thursday, 27 September 2007 18:06 | Written by 
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 US Surf Ski Champs - logo

US Surf Ski Champs 2007 - Update 

A fascinating contest looks to be played out between some of the best surf ski paddlers in the world at the US Surf Ski Championships in San Francisco this weekend. 

South African Contingent

Fresh from wins in Ireland (where he won the Liffey Descent) and the Caribbean, Barry Lewin will be looking to improve his previous result in the US Champs - and there's only one way to do that: he came second behind Dawid Mocke last year.  "I'm feeling pretty good at the moment," he said, "the Soualiga Challenge was a perfect warm-up for San Fran." 

Barry Lewin
Barry Lewin - winner of the Soualiga Challenge last weekend

Oscar Chalupsky is taking part in the race for the first time.  "San Francisco is magnificent," he said. "It's a very technical course - and shows that you can have a relatively short race that requires real skill."  He's spent some time on the course over the last few days.  "There are bumps everywhere," he said, "runs into the wind; runs with the wind.  I can't understand it!"  But Oscar loves bumps - and if the predicted 15-20kt winds blow on Saturday he'll revel in the conditions.

Oscar wins the ARB Surf Ski World Cup
Oscar Chalupsky winning the ARB Surf Ski World Cup in Durban, South Africa, 1 July 2007 (Photo: Gameplan Media)

Bevan Manson, will also be competitive.  His plans include paddling in all the World Rankings races this season.  His last major race was the Scottburgh to Brighton Classic in Durban in July where, paddling Oscar Chalupsky's 8kg V10E, he beat Dawid Mocke - current US Championship title holder.

Bevan Manson winning the 2007 Scottburgh to Brighton 46km surf ski marathon
Bevan Manson winning the 2007 Scottburgh to Brighton 46km marathon - July 2007 (Photo: Mike Tippet)

Daryl Bartho will also be in with a fighting chance.  Daryl also intends to compete in as many international races as possible this year - and has a point to prove against Oscar Chalupsky.  Last year Daryl was favorite to win the Perth World Cup having beaten Oscar in all the lead up races in South Africa - but Oscar beat Daryl in both the Perth races, on flat water.  (Oscar's stated preference is for downwind conditions).

Daryl Bartho during the ARB Surf Ski World Cup 2007
Seen that photo before? Daryl Bartho during the ARB Surf Ski World Cup 2007 (Photo: Gameplan Media)

Sadly Dawid Mocke is not in San Francisco to defend his title.  Following a two week layoff after the grueling 2006/2007 season he injured his back and was prevented from training adequately for the race.

US Challenge 

Greg Barton, Oscar's partner and CEO of Epic Kayaks, has the advantage of local knowledge.  "Greg is going very fast," Oscar commented.  Greg is 48 years old though which must count against him.  However - Greg won the Blackburn Challenge in July paddling a sea kayak in a field of surf skis.  "With proper training," Oscar added, "Greg is as fast as anyone in the world - downwind as well."  Like Oscar, Greg has been travelling a lot and has not been able to paddle as much as he'd like.

Greg Barton 2005 US Surf Ski Champs
Greg Barton during the 2005 US Champs

Zsolt Szadovszki has been making waves (so to speak) around the world.   A relative newcomer to surf ski, Zsolt has achieved some very respectable results at last year's US Champs, the Dubai Shamaal and this year's Molokai.  (Zsolt missed making the Hungarian Olympic team in K2 by inches in 2000 - and the team that beat them went on to take Gold.)  "Between the 2005 & 2006 US Champs I improved 30%," said Zsolt.  "I feel that improved another 30% this year - so we'll see how far it gets me!"

Local knowledge is key in this race where tides and currents play a major role and Zsolt has that knowledge in spades - to the extent that he has been coaching paddlers on the course for the last couple of weeks.  "I believe being a local paddler helps," he agreed, "but I also believe that whoever is paying attention can read the ocean...".

Robert Clegg (actually South African but now resident in the US) just returned from Europe where he came 7th in the World K1 Marathon Championships.  He's come second in the US Champs before too.

30 year old two time Olympian Rami Zur also recently returned from the Sprint Championships in Europe where he came 5th in the K1 1500m.


In June, Ian McKenzie achieved 3rd place in the 32.9km World Cup Marathon race in Denmark and just came 6th in the World Marathon Championships.  Distance, fitness and strength is clearly no problem - but lack of local knowledge and the rough seas of the bay may well count against Ian and the other flat water specialists

Ian McKenzie - 2005 US Surfski Champs
Ian McKenzie - 2005 US Champs (Photo: Mike Martinez, Wave Chaser)


2007 Molokai Champion Lewis Laughlin is back to challenge for the title too.  Lewis has a history of biding his time for the first half of a race and then making a strong move to blow his opposition away - but is usually more successful on flatter water.

Lewis Laughlin 2007 Molokai Surf Ski Challenge
Lewis Laughlin - winner of 2007 Molokai (Photo: DeAnne Hemmens)

Women's Race

Kathleen Petereit (Canada), 3rd in 2006 and 2nd in 2005, is back to challenge the likes of DeAnne Hemmens and 2007 Molokai Women's Champion, Megan Quayle (HI).  DeAnne Hemmens won the women's race in 2005.

Course, Tides & Currents

The current will peak about 40 minutes after the start of the race - at 3-4kts in places.  The current will be at its worst at Point Diablo and under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Local paddler and race organizer Dave Jensen put together the image below as a guide to the course. 

US Surf Ski Champs route map
Route map (Dave Jensen)

For a larger version of this image, click here. 


Because of the tides and currents, this will be a highly tactical race.  Last year Dawid Mocke was very careful to keep an eye on the line that the locals were taking - get too far ahead and your opposition might jump onto a counter current 100m away. 

Apart from that, the Fenn Hotspot throws an extra twist into the race: the $1000 hotspot prize goes to the first person under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Do you sprint for the hotspot, or do you conserve energy for the overall win?

Surf Ski at the Golden Gate
Paddling at the Golden Gate (Photo: Oscar Chalupsky)

Sunday's Doubles Race 

The doubles race should see some fierce competition too with the likes of Oscar Chalupsky/Greg Barton, Lewis Laughlin/Barry Lewin, Bevan Manson/Daryl Bartho and Robert Clegg/Zsolt Szadovszki.  Chalupsky and Barton will be paddling a "Comet" double ski.  This ski was a project by Don Kiesling in Seattle - only two were ever built before the project was shelved.

Live Coverage logo will be covering the event live with commentary coming from observers on the escort boats.  Coverage will begin at 11h00 California time (8pm South Africa time!).

For more info, go to: 


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