Sprint WA held a unique event on Sunday 30th August, the Special Ski Regatta.
Article by Jesse Phillips
A memorable day at Champion Lakes for nearly 90 paddlers for the Special Ski Regatta, with many first-timers taking to the sprint course over the 3 Olympic distances. As ski trailers rolled in, were unloaded and paddlers carried out their competition preparations the setup of essential regatta infrastructure was finalised. A tangible buzz of anticipation surged on the VenuesWest sports island with ‘newbies’ to the regatta world eagerly scoping out their race draw (the lane they were in and competitors within their race). A melting pot of the local paddling community was gauging unfamiliar names and unknown quantities, alongside their known rivalries – some with targets on their back. The regatta offered a new environment for many paddlers to test themselves against training buddies – with some surprised by how hard they could work over such short distances.
Some impressive performances were seen across the field racing into a stiff head breeze throughout the morning, with Dan Humble (Trigg SLSC) and Harriet Brown (Bayswater Paddlesports Club/North Cottesloe SLSC) the two fastest paddlers in the mens and womens field across the 200m, 500m and 1000m races. Paddlers contested races within a ‘formulated seeding plan’ utilising age, sex and estimated performance – many thanks go to the tireless efforts of Lawrence Greed, the Race Director for his adept seeding experience. Local sprint regattas are usually* seeded into divisions (based on previous performances across each distance) and therefore it was necessary to allow new paddlers to benchmark their own expected performance. This worked relatively well across the spread of the field to ensure fair can competitive races.
*State Sprint Titles are contested based on age groups (e.g.U14, U16, U18, Open, 40-49, 50-59, etc.).
The program of sprint distances was followed up by 2 events drawing from the surf life-saving format:
(1) an 800m double ski course which traversed the bridge between both sides of the lake before a long left-hand loop to finish at the regatta course finish line; and
(2) a surf ski relay event, an embodiment of club pride in the Carbonology Club Challenge Ski Relay with a 3-person handicapped 150m run into a 400m paddle course with a team bib changeover and deepwater finish.
Ramon Andersson (dual-Olympian and WAIS Head Coach) teamed up with Brett McDonald (World Champion Masters Marathon K1/K2) to dominate the course in the mass start event with the majority of the doubles field made up of an experienced paddler pairing with a younger novice club paddler. And in the Carbonology Club Challenge, it was Trigg SLSC who took home the new Carbonology ‘golden shaft’ club development paddle with a win from the team of Lily Boisvert, Will Savage and Femke Negus.
Many of WA’s paddling community leaders were on the island for the event including Steve Bird (coaching the young chargers from North Cottesloe SLSC), Dean Beament (supporting the IOP crew), James Duncan (setting the bar high for the Bunbury SLSC), Mark Sedgwick (the gregarious president of Ascot Kayak Club), Jane Liddle (matriarch of the Liddle Family paddling dynasty), Rowan Caren and Dan Humble (Trigg ski coach and club president of Trigg SLSC, respectively). In addition, it was awesome to see the numerous paddlers, parents, WASPS volunteers and supporters who made for a brilliant morning, full of good vibes and eager participation.
What was also exciting was the age range of paddlers (13-77) engaged in the event, along with a comparatively high percentage (30%) of female paddlers. This is an indication that our sport is motivating people for many reasons (health, performance, social) and has minimal barriers to entry. The Special Ski Regatta held on Sunday, August 30, 2020, was a success with paddlers encouraged to use the most popular craft type on the water to engage in a traditionally kayak-based discipline – and from all reports that novelty was not lost on those first-timers with many eager for more. It showed the strong paddling spirit in WA and that our sports’ local leaders and committees care about nurturing the next generation as well getting creative to inspire seasoned paddlers towards the diversity which our sport has to offer.
The Paddle WA Sprint Technical Committee invites paddlers to enter upcoming regattas – in skis. Now that data is being compiled on the speed of skis over these 3 Olympic distances there will be a more accurate process to seed paddlers into their current division, with the scope to have ski only divisions in sprint regattas moving forward.
Cheers to all for your support, Jesse.
2020/21 Sprint Regatta Season:
Regatta 1 – September 20 (Bayswater)
Regatta 2 – October 11 (Bayswater)
Regatta 3 – October 31 (Champion Lakes)
Regatta 4 – November 29 (Champion Lakes)
State Champs – January 30/31 (Champion Lakes)
Regatta 5 – February 28 (Champion Lakes)
Individual Race Videos can be viewed here.
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