US Champs - Live Commentary

Saturday, 29 September 2007 15:43 | Written by 
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Welcome to the 2007 US Surfski Championships live commentary, proudly brought to you by!

(And it's live text not audio - so you need to refresh your page every few minutes... the next time we do this we'll have new technology that will take away the necessity to refresh - but for now you gotta hit F5 to see more info!)

US Surf Ski Champs Commentary 

All times - California time


Well that's it...  thanks to all the folks who logged in to watch the thing.  We're going to use some other kind of technology in the future that doesn't require you to keep refreshing the page - but we broke new ground today with the "live" photos - thanks to Judy and her trusty cell phone!

Congratulations to all the paddlers - it was a tough race in the flat conditions. 

Goodbye & goodnight! 

15h00 (midnight South African time!)

next few places:

11: Ian Grey 2:07:07

12: Mark Nicholson 2:07:34

13: Dorian Wolter

14: Robert Clegg

15: Ian McKenzie 

The leaderboard!


Oscar: What a mission.  I was pretty fast when there were runs.  The last section there were no runs.  Lewis took a different line and got the current.  Out of the 2 hours, there was about 15mins of runs...

Lewis: It was a good race - Greg was really strong off the start...  Oscar started to pull away and I tried to keep up.  I think he did a wrong maneuver and I took the opportunity.

Daryl: It was going alright but messed up at the end there...

Greg: Made a good move at the start and crossed over the current.  I'm getting too old for this - the future's in the young guys like Oscar and Lewis. 


Top ten results: 

Lewis Laughlin 1:58:36

Oscar Chalupsky 2:00:15

Greg Barton 2:00:31

Barry Lewin 2:01;18

Daryl Bartho 2:02:09

Bevan Manson 2:02:54

Zsolt 2:03:47

Patrick Dolan 2:04:08

Branden Wood 2:04:46

Rami Zur 2:06:59


Well, what a race.  The weather predictions were wrong - the waves were small and there wasn't much wind.  The paddlers were definitely expecting much more help on the way back.  

Well done Lewis - and well done Oscar, who showed the other SA young bucks a thing or three.

Magic to see two over-40s in the top 3... gives hope to the rest of us! 

Judy Barker - our intrepid commentator on the escort boat! Thanks Judy!


Joe Glickman just paddled by the boat...  top 20.   

Lewis Laughlin - winner 2007 US Surf Ski champs
Lewis about to finish


Darryl 5th, 75-100m back, then Bevan? then Zsolt 7th?, Pat Dolan (wind noise really bad!)

Now Rami Zur & Robert Clegg. 


Oscar second.  Greg Barton is 20m behind Oscar. Barry Lewin 4th.


Lewis is 100m from shore... 75m... and... has won the 2007 US Surf Ski Champs...  Cheering breaks out - he's on the beach, he's running up to the finish.

Lewis surging in front...


Oscar is falling back, Lewis is surging ahead. 


Lewis is now 45 sec to a minute ahead of Oscar.  Just looked over his shoulder to see where Oscar is...

Seems as though Greg is battling with Bevan, where's Barry?

Lewis is only about 0.75 miles from the beach.

The weather is beautiful - for tourists...  not surf ski paddlers!

Lewis is about a km from the beach. 


OK, we've got about 8 minutes to go to the finish.  Looks almost certain to be Lewis, then Oscar, then Barry/Greg...  But Dawid just warned us about the counter current in this area...  Lewis is close in. 


We've got nearly 200 people online right now... how cool is that?  Judy says "Hi!"

Oscar is just under the bridge now. 


Lewis is going to win - about 100m from the bridge and about 20-30sec ahead of Oscar.  He's heading for a breaking wave under the south tower...!  Lewis looks very comfortable.

There's been no help for the paddlers.

Greg Barton has closed on Barry.  Greg about 2lengths behind Barry. 

Oscar heading home



Bevan just passed... Daryl seems to have fallen way back...  The boat is on the way to the finish...  Just got a great shot of Oscar heading towards the bridge.


Greg just passed - about 2min behind Lewis...   



Oscar is about 20 seconds behind Lewis at this point. Barry seems to have dropped back a little bit, Barry about 40sec behind Oscar.

The guys are getting no help from wind or waves... 


Just off Pt. Diablo.  The current is less than it was - probably about 1- 1.5kt.

Lewis is just passing... 


Barry is closing on Oscar (and is on the better line behind Lewis.)  Greg is solidly 4th now.

2/3 of the way back to Pt. Diablo.  

Supposed to have big waves and strong wind - the waves are small - less than 1m and not much wind at all - less than 10kts. 


It's difficult to tell how strong the current is.  Lewis is now 4-5 lengths ahead of Oscar - seems that the direct line was best... 


Guys are taking different lines - Barry is following Lewis' line; Oscar is taking a deeper line.  It's a gamble!



Greg ahead of Bevan...

Oscar is going to the middle of the channel; Lewis is staying to one side of the channel.  Lewis is going straight to the south tower of the bridge; Oscar is 100m further out, catching better current?

Barry, then Daryl, then Greg, then Bevan.  Still the only 5 to have rounded the buoy. 


A few hundred metres from the Point Bonnita bouy - there will be great runs on the way back to the bridge and beach.  The two top guys were talking earlier - but they're not talking much now!  They're taking turns to surge ahead and then catch up.

Barry is about the same gap behind - 15-20 lengths behind.

Oscar & Lewis turned the buoy, on the way back in.  They've got waves to catch.  Oscar surges ahead... 


Barry has put in an interval on Daryl, pulled a good gap.  DeAnne Hemmens were just spotted on her way out. 

Oscar now overtakes Lewis, about a length ahead now. 


Lewis is now ahead, both he & Oscar are several lengths ahead of the next back.  No luck with waves.  When they get to the Pt. Bonnita bouy there will be runners again.

Lewis now a length ahead of Oscar, then Barry Lewin now in 3rd.  6 or 8 boats in the bunch.

Daryl is 4th, then Bevan & Greg dicing behind. 

Half way back to Pt. Bonnita. 


Seems like Judy's phone battery just died.  We're trying our alternate phone... 

At Pt. Bonnita


Ian Grey is also sitting in the top 10. In 5 minutes or so they'll be at the last turn before coming back with the wind & current...  


Oscar is at least 3 lengths ahead of Lewis, catching little runs.   Daryl 5 lengths bac, Bevan 1/2 length back, Barry 1/2 back, Greg 2 lengths back, Zsolt, then Pat Dolan.  Then Robert Clegg...

Approaching Pt. Bonnita

Daryl Bartho 2007 US Surfski Champs
Daryl pulling strongly


Aaaaaaargh - the battery of our commentator's cell phone seems to be running down...  hopefully there's someone else on the boat with a cell phone.  They're approaching the next mark on the map - Buoy 4.  They're going into the current but are catching waves...

We're going to call back in 5 minutes or so.

Fantastic stuff - the race is still anyone's but Oscar is clearly making his move. 


Lewis now in 2nd, Daryl in 3rd a lenght back.  Bevan in 4th...  They're catching waves and changing positions...  Oscar is pulling ahead - ideal conditions for him - bumps.

Daryl & Lewis are neck & neck...

3 lengths back, Bevan and Greg B dicing.  

Oscar is building up a lead... 4 lengths. 


Daryl is putting in an interval and has caught up a little on Oscar who is about 1.5 lengths ahead.  Lewis is now in 3rd.  Bevan is now in 4th, Greg length behind in 5th.  Barry has overtaken Zsolt.


Oscar 2-3 lengths ahead of Daryl then Greg, Lewis back in 4th, not far back, then Bevan, 3 lenghts, Zsolt and Barry...  


Oscar making a move, just about up to Greg, they're on a great line.  Daryl is not on such a good line, looks as though they're going to overtake.

Oscar has just overtaken Greg Barton - about 50m from the turn buoy at Pt. Bonnita.

The water is pretty mellow, but there's a very strong current.

Greg & Oscar are dead even

Daryl a length behind

Bevan then lewis, then Zsolt.  two boat lengths later is Barry Lewin. 





Second pack within 3 lengths of the first two.

All the top 6 are paddling beautifully together, all looking very comfortable and strong.

Some more photos coming up. 


1st through 10th are closing up together.  Oscar is still sitting 4th behind Lewis.  Oscar is right on Lewis' tail.

Bevan is 5th 

Zsolt is 6th 


Greg is 50m inside of Daryl who is now 2-3 lengths ahead, Daryl will be able to go straight around Pt. Bonnita; Greg will have to come out again.

Next pack seems to be pulling up a little - not as far behind.  Lewis is a length ahead of Oscar.  Zsolt about 3 lengths behind Oscar.

It's anybody's race at this point.

Greg seems to have caught up to Daryl, but is still 50m inside and will have to come out and around the point. 


Daryl has broken away - Greg is far behind, still on the inside line.

Pack with Lewis, Zsolt, Oscar,  Bevan still being pulled by Lewis...


Top paddlers now past Pt. Diablo 

Pt. Diablo - not Pt. Bonnita.  Daryl still ahead - Greg had to come back out of the bay to get to the point.  Current not to bad right now.  Daryl 20m from the rocks; Greg 10ft if that.


Lewis pulling the next pack.

Bevan, Zsolt, Oscar all in that pack 

Ian Grey in 7th; Barry Lewin in 8th; Patrick Dolan in 9th 


Daryl has taken the lead, it looks as though Greg is taking an inside line - might be the right way to go because of the current.  Lewis next, a few boat lengths behind, Zsolt then Oscar, then Bevan...

Daryl is in the current... taking a straight line to Point Bonnita.  Daryl & Greg about 6 lengths ahead.  Bevan has moved ahead of Oscar.  The locals are heading right next to the rocks.

Barry Lewin is sitting 6th Ian Grey 7th.  coming up on Pt. Bonnita


Just waiting for some photos...

So Greg won the hotspot - fantastic.  Judy's a little confused with some of the names I think, but those guys are all in the top group.

So they'll all be heading back towards the bridge and the strong currents.  They have to try to stick as close to the cliffs on the north shore as possible.

(For those who don't know - Fenn Kayaks is putting up hotspots in selected races around the world.  First paddler past the hotspot takes a $1000 prize.  There will be three hotspots at Dubai.) 


Greg Barton is leading!  Daryl Bartho is right behind him

Greg is 3 boat lengths ahead.

Greg has won the hotspot.

Lewis is third, then Oscar, then Bevan, then Barry, then Patrick Dolan...



It's really hard to hear our commentator - the wind is whistling through her cell phone...

3-4 guys have broken away - but the whole fleet has been swept a couple of hundred metres east of the straight line between beach & hotspot.


The hotspot is about 500m away now.  The hotspot is a big yellow buoy and Judy's boat is carrying the judges to see who's first around...


8-9 guys out front, then two boat lengths until the next pack.  Conditions are very calm right now.

Bevan is making a move...

Strong current, but quite flat.  The current is "ripping around" but it's very flat.  Greg Barton may actually have the best line - he's about 10m further west than anyone else - the current may push him ahead to the hotspot. 


Rami Zur close to the front, with Bevan Manson, Patrick Doland (?), then Barry, then Daryl.  Greg Barton a little back, ahead of Oscar, ahead of Daryl 


Barry's in front

Lewis is next to him

8 guys have broken away as they head towards the hotspot. 


And they've started - a big ferry has just gone by -

Zsolt is sitting in second place right now...  trying to identify the first place ski...

Water is rough under the bridge - white caps on the water out beyond Point Bonnita...



 The paddlers are nicely warmed, all lined up ready to go. 

Another shot of the beach a few minutes ago:


US Surf Ski Champs - nice day
Current condtions at the start of the US Champs


Nothing new to report - start should be in ten minutes. 


15 minutes to go - we hope.  Apparently the wind is weaker than forecast which is great for the route out - but the paddlers will be hoping for plenty of following wind for the return trip... 

US Surf Ski Champs - Briefing
US Surf Ski Champs - Briefing

Saffas at the US Surf Ski Champs
Proudly flying the flag - SA team!



Calm conditions - but a strong tide rip happening at present - 3-4kt...

The Coast Guard have requested that the race be delayed for 20mins or so to allow some freighter traffic through.  So we're looking at another half hour before the race starts.  Most of the paddlers are out on the water warming up already.

We have some photos to stick up...  stand by a couple of minutes.


The paddlers are all congregating at Chrissy Field for the race briefing.  I'll be chatting to our commentator on the course, the lovely Judy Baker (paddler & girlfriend of one of the race organisers, Dave Jensen).  

Spoke to Dawid Mocke just now who is bleak - he was unable to defend his title after a back injury put paid to his training for the race.  The good news is that he's fine now - and I'll be paddling (briefly) with him on our Millers run downwind paddle tomorrow - 25-30kts SE forecast - yippee!  (Briefly because we start together and he then disappears about 15 strokes later!)

Dawid said that the critical part of the course is along the cliffs from Fort Baker into the current & the wind.  If anyone's leading the race by 15seconds or more at the turning buoy at the far end of the course, they should have the race in the bag.

I spoke to Oscar Chalupsky and Joe Glickman a little while ago as they were driving to the start.  It's a beautiful sunny day in San Francisco and there's not much wind at the moment...  BUT the forecast is for 15-25kt NW out at sea so we can expect that the paddlers are going to have a really tough time heading out - they'll have both wind AND current against them.  But of course they'll be going like rockets on the way back in with 3kt current in their favour, a good wind and waves to ride.

This is going to be a CRACKER of a race. Dawid agreed that this race is really difficult to call.  The South Africans are all strong - but watch out for Zsolt Szadovszki...  The ex-Hungarian has been improving radically since he started surf ski paddling 3 years ago and could present a real challenge to the rest of the field.  Greg Barton is fast - but hasn't been able to train optimally due to work and travel commitments...  Oscar has also been travelling extensively recently.  Daryl Bartho is back from a slump, paddling hard.  Bevan Manson is hugely motivated following his win (over Dawid Mocke) in the 46km Scottburgh to Brighton.  Barry Lewin comes fresh from victories at the Liffey Descent in Ireland and in the Soualiga Challenge in the Caribbean...  And this is the first race in the 2007/2008 season - the guys are hungry!

(Ok, I'll be back in 20 minutes or so to hear what how the race briefing went...  ciao for now.) 


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