Skip to: site menu | section menu | main content

Surfski races

The surfski was developed as a fast, efficient means of getting out beyond the breakers for lifesavers, but it’s such a cool craft that ... well, one thing led to another and there are now races all through the summer. In fact, it’s virtually de rigueur to have a surfski strapped onto the roof racks of your car if you want to look cool.
Seriously, though, it's not all hype and image. They really are fun boats to paddle – fast, responsive and with the approximate stability of a razor blade balanced on its edge. And it was in South Africa that this discipline was first developed as a major competitive sport. As well as the regular races, there are two rather strenuous challenges, which are run in December in alternate years.
The Cape Point Challenge is a 60km race around the unbelievably beautiful (and more than a bit challenging) Cape Point. Before we settled on plain old “Cape Point” this needle-sharp promontory was called (perhaps depending on its mood) the “Cape of Storms” and the “fairest cape in all the circumference of the world”. The latter quote was by Sir Francis Drake who was certainly in a position to make such a claim, and the former by Portuguese explorers who’d seen its less fair face.
The second race is the Sunshine Coast Challenge – from Port Elizabeth to East London – a distance of 244 km over 4 days and also a pretty major epic.
Another really interesting race is the annual Scottburg to Brighton race on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Initiated in 1958, this was the first long distance offshore surfski race in the world. Of course, 46.5 km is no longer considered particularly far for surfski races but this is still a classic. Run every July (usually over the 2nd weekend) it often coincides with the sardine run.


Back to top