Adventure Sport

Top dogs gear for Surfski Cup

2011-06-23 16:27
Yannick Laousse (File)
Durban - Australian surfski legend Dean Gardiner and a team of top French surfski paddlers head up the international field for Sunday's Dunlop Surfski World Cup.

Gardiner and fellow Australians Brandon Rice, Bruce Taylor and Mark Anderson will be joined on the record entry on the startline by racers from New Zealand, Brazil and Hong Kong, ready to pit themselves against the very powerful local elite field of surfski stars from around the country.

The French team is led by experienced Yannick Laousse from Brittany, keen to build on the experience from racing in this event a few years ago. "I was last here in 2009 where I finished 14th so I would love to finish in the top ten this time," said the likeable Frenchman.

The four Brittany team mates however had a frustrating and at times traumatic trip to Durban for the big race.

"We missed our connecting flight from London to Johannesburg, our luggage was lost at Johannesburg airport, someone reversed into our rental car here in Durban and one of our team was stung by a jellyfish when we went for our first paddle but it is okay because we are here and very excited for the race on Sunday!" said Laousse.

"I have won the bulk of the races back at home and Stephane Roudat and David Slachta have regularly finished on the podium," said Laousse. "Unfortunately one of the other very strong French paddlers couldn't be here this time but the guys who are here are definitely the top paddlers from home."

"We've just finished our season back at home so we're all coming here very well prepared and I'm very happy with my form at the moment. I would definitely say that I'm ready for Sunday's race," he added.

Unlike many other European surfski paddlers, the Brittany quartet is used to paddling in very rough and windy conditions and will be ready for whatever weather is thrown at them on Sunday.

In 2009 a contingent of young French girls were caught out by the heavy winds and offshore conditions during the race from Winklespruit to Durban, and they all had to be rescued, several of them by helicopter.

Gardiner is an iconic figure in the sport, and will be relishing the opportunity to lock antlers with his old adversary Oscar Chalupsky, both of them racing in Veterans classes now.

Mark Anderson got to grips with the typical KZN conditions last year, while Bruce Taylor is making his debut at the Surfski World Cup, he is one of the pacesetters and regular winners in the Australian domestic surfski series.

Perth racer Ruth Highman will bring real needle to the women's race, where she will go toe-to-toe with the classy locals Nikki Mocké and Michéle Eray.

The Surfski World Cup takes place on Sunday 26 June from Marine SLC at Addington beach.


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