2007 US Surf Ski Champs Coming to San Fran Sept. 29-30
$12,000 cash purse on the line
Who says Barry Bonds is stealing all the limelight in San Francisco? While the slugger recently beat Hank Aaron’s homerun mark at home for the Giants, organizers of the 2007 U.S. Surf Ski Championships are anticipating hitting a homerun of their own when the 2007 US Surf Ski Champs come to San Francisco Sept. 29-30.
“The event will feature a deep international field of world-class paddlers from South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Canada and across America,” says organizer Kenny Howell, adding that this year’s race includes more than $12,000 in prize money donated by sponsors, with cash awarded to the top 10 men’s and top five women’s long course finishers, top five doubles teams, and the top relay teams.
Held in San Francisco Bay, the 17-mile course features rough water, powerful currents, and hectic boat traffic, making it one of the most dynamic and scenic paddling races in the world. While two-time winner Dawid Mocke of Cape Town, South Africa, recently pulled out due to a back injury, the world’s most decorated ocean paddler of all time, fellow South African Oscar Chalupsky, will have his hands full with the likes of two-time American Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Barton, a two-time winner of the U.S. Surf Ski Championships. Also vying for the podium is Tahitian Lewis Laughlin, the 2007 Molokai World Champion, as well local favorite Zsolt Szadovszki, a former member of the Hungarian National Sprint Team now living in San Francisco. “Even though Dawid pulled out, the competition is still incredibly tough,” says Howell. “Oscar will have to battle to get a podium spot.” The women’s division is just as fierce, including former US Olympian DeAnne Hemmens, who won the event in 2005, and the women’s 2007 Molokai World Champion, Megan Quale of the US.
Originally designed for lifesaving in Australia, surf skis are ocean racing kayaks with open decks. They are long, narrow, tippy and built to catch and surf wind waves in rough ocean conditions, especially when handled by an experienced paddler. The sport is growing in the US, with 2007 marking the 5th year of the US Championships in San Francisco.
“The race course includes San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate, and stretches of exposed ocean where confused ocean swells can be six to 10 feet,” says Howell, adding that this year’s event also includes a new “Alcatraz Breakout Relay” on Sunday. “The 17-mile route is designed to test the endurance and rough water skills of this deep and talented field. Conditions vary with tides and the weather, but high winds, large waves, and strong currents are pretty typical.”
The race venue, Crissy Field, is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and lies just inside the Golden Gate on the city side of the Bay. With the spectacular backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Marin Headlands, and the San Francisco skyline, it offers a large sandy beach for launching surf skis as well as great viewing opportunities for spectators. Ample free parking is immediately adjacent to the beach and start/finish area. Food and drinks will be served, and prizes handed out on location after each event.
Entry fee is $55 per racer for one race (either solo or doubles); and $35 additional for second race (solo and doubles) if pre-registered before September 1. After September 1, fees are $75 and $55, respectively. Relay race fees are $20 per racer. $55 entry fee includes a racing jersey for the first 100 registrants, and a goody bag. Lunch served on site for all registered paddlers after the races.
Schedule of Events
Singles Race (long and short courses): Saturday, September 29, 2007
Registration: 9:00 a.m.
Race Start: Noon
Doubles Race and Relay Race: Sunday, September 30, 2007
Registration: 7:30 a.m.
Doubles Race Start: 9:00 a.m.
Relay Race Start: Noon
Info: www.wavechaser.com; 650-784-7377