This Weekend: The Aussie Battle Of The Paddle (The “PoP”)

 

The 2011 Power of the Paddle (2012 is set to be even bigger) // photo © Stuart Leake

Australia doesn’t have many big SUP races.

This country probably produces more of the world’s elite paddlers than any other nation, but it just doesn’t have the races. Whether it comes down to money, organisation, or a bit of both, there really aren’t any major international events on our Calendar.

That’s not to say the level of competition isn’t world class at Australian SUP races, anything but… even a local race in places like Queensland can attract a higher standard than most race directors around the world could ever dream of. It’s just that we don’t have the standard of races to match the standard of racers.

The biggest prize money on offer for an Aussie SUP race is at The Doctor, which is probably Australia’s most prestigious SUP race and the only one that can claim to be an “international” event. Though even that one piggybacks on an existing surf ski race. There a few other SUP races that have the potential to become a fixture on the international scene (such as the 12 Towers race on the Gold Coast, or the 20 Beaches race in Sydney). But apart from that, the calendar is thin. There’s plenty of local and regional races, but none that offer much prize money or attract a big number of international (or even local) competitors.

However one race that seems to be making its mark on the Aussie scene, and which could potentially become a big international event one day, is coming up this weekend: the Ocean Addicts Power of the Paddle SUP race @ Coolum, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Kelly Margetts on his way to victory in 2011 // photo © Stuart Leake

The 2nd edition of the “PoP” (trademark!) will be happening this Saturday the 17th and looks set to be the Aussie version of the Battle of the Paddle: It’s got a similar format to the Battle and pretty much all of the country’s best paddlers will be in town, so it should easily go down as the country’s biggest ever “BoP-style” race.

No international paddlers are expected to show up, yet the standard is going to be higher than most other SUP races around the world.

Defending champ (and recent Battle of the Paddle 4th place finisher) Kelly Margetts will be the one to beat, but he’ll be joined by the likes of Paul Jackson, Jake Jensen, Lincoln Dews, Beau O’Brian, Andy Davies, and pretty much all of Australia’s elite Stand Up Paddlers. It’s not just the top guys either; there’s going to be some serious depth in this event and organisers are expecting a pretty solid turnout.

On the women’s side, Australia’s best BoP style racers should be there: Angie Jackson, Sondra Purser and former Ironwoman Queen, Karla Gilbert. However defending event champion (and Molokai warriorTerrene Black is out injured.

The format for the Power of the Paddle is pretty cool too; it’s basically a mash-up of the Battle of the Paddle Elite Race and the Waikiki Paddle Festival’s Survivor Race.

There’s three rounds; Heat 1, Heat 2 and the Final. Though Heats 1 and 2 aren’t really heats, they’re elimination rounds.

Every competitor lines up in Heat 1, with the top 67% of finishers going through to Heat 2. Then in Heat 2 it’s the top 50% progressing to the Final. So if there’s 75 paddlers on the start line for Heat 1; the top 50 will go through to Heat 2 and then top 25 from that will make the Final.

While a lot of first time racers will probably try their luck in Heat 1, by the time the field gets whittled down to the Final the standard is definitely going to be world class.

This is the second edition of the event; Last year’s Power of the Paddle was an awesome race, with Kelly Margetts and Terrene Black prevailing in tricky conditions that saw plenty of waves/carnage (see the pic above).

SUPracer.com will be there this weekend, and I’ll personally be trying to make 64th position look like a victory again, so we’ll keep you updated on all the action as it happens.

2011 Power of the Paddle RESULTS

Men’s
1st: Kelly Margetts (44.39)
2nd: Beau O’Brian (46.27)
3rd: Paul Jackson (47.06)
4th: Lincoln Dews (47.17)
5th: Justin Holland (48.02)

Women’s
1st: Terrene Black (55:55)
2nd: Sondra Purser (1:01:07)
3rd: Simone Horsfield (1:02:49)