The record field of surfski paddlers that has entered the Dischem Pete Marlin this weekend is in for a treat as wind and weather conditions look set to line up perfectly to allow the organisers to stage two days of excellent and varied paddling off the Border coastline.
The race organisers have confirmed that the singles day on Saturday will be staged from Orient Beach to Yellow Sands, a distance of 22 kilometres, with a steady Westerly wind expected to move in late on Friday and clean up the ocean swell for the key singles title race.
On Sunday a North Easterly wind moves in and the doubles day race will be held from Yellow Sands to Nahoon Beach, a distance of 17 kilometres. The final start times will be communicated to the participants via the event WhatsApp group.
The event has attracted one of the strongest fields of men and women paddlers, including five current world champions.
New men’s world champ Nicky Notten comes into the event as both holder of the global title and defending singles champion, but he will find the class of Hank McGregor, Dawid and Jasper Mocké, East London locals Andy Birkett and brothers Matt and Josh Fenn, Dom Notten, Kenny Rice, Matt Bouman, as well as the new Under 23 surfski world champion Uli Hart.
The women’s field is just as strong. New world champion Michelle Burn shares that same pressure as her men’s counterpart coming into the event as the defending champion, but she has a track record this year to start as a clear favourite.
That status will be tested by the class of new junior world champion Saskia Hockly and her younger sister Valmajean Hockly, the on-song local Nikki Birkett, Jenna Nisbet, Chloe Bunnett, who returns from a successful summer competing in surfski races in Europe, Jade Wilson, with her new Under 23 world title on her CV, Kira Bester and a handful of other women capable of racing onto the podium.
The doubles for the race on Sunday will see most of these stars of surfski racing paired with world-class partners for the decider that ends at the race base at Nahoon beach.
The event has been staged every year since 2008 in memory of popular East London sportsman Pete Marlin who died in a tragedy on the Umkomaas River in 1989.