Pure Prone Paddling

Pure Prone Paddling

The Prescient Freedom Paddle is a  magnificent race in a category of its own. Designed initially for surfskis and water craft, the last year or two have seen the inclusion of slower paddlers, like prone and stand up paddle boards, but don’t think that ever stopped the competitors from completing this arduous 27km route!

Last year, prone mentor Kit Beaton undertook the infamous race, but after a delayed start due to fog and some very challenging conditions, he was not sure he wanted to participate in a solo capacity again.

Just like a true athlete, when the news of the race surfaced again for the new year, Kit wanted to race.

He started to think about how to make it possible for prone paddlers to complete the course without the physical strain of paddling 27kms on their knees, with their hands sweeping through the icy Atlantic waters.

How does one get through a difficult task? Why, with a little help from your friends, of course!

This year he devised a new strategy with a twofold goal: helping to encourage more junior entries and allowing paddlers to participate in the full race.  Relay teams of two were formed and the 27km paddling distance was shared between the members. When they were done, they had edged up their total race distance to 30kms after each paddler did two rounds of 7,5kms!

The idea worked really well, enabling some of our upcoming prone paddlers to experience this elite race. The team of Jadon Wessels and Santxo Etcheverry were the winners in this category. Many of the junior lifesaving prone paddlers also entered the 8km course – another encouragement to prone paddling in their  divisions!


By starting the juniors at a shorter 8km distance, the alternating relay sections of 2 x 7,5km around the island seem a lot more within their reach, and will encourage them to enter in the years to come.

Kit models all his prone training on the Molokai race – a world-renowned Hawaiian epic between the islands of Molokai and Oahu, where conditions are generally treacherous. He ensures there is a qualifying event, allowing athletes to see that their fitness and craft are up to task ahead of them. This race demands high standards, and they have certainly been met.

With the support from the lifesaving community, we hope to see much more growth in the prone boarding arena too!

Photo credits: Wayne Grieveson and Billy Ackerman

Celebrating the Freedom to Paddle

Celebrating the Freedom to Paddle

Freedom is a status we take for granted in so many instances.Today’s blissful paddle was a drop in the ocean of what freedom means in our nation.

Freedom Day, 27th of April, is a uniquely South African public holiday and reminder of many who went before us, dedicating their entire lives to giving their nation the freedom they had never experienced.

The City Of Cape Town representative so aptly mentioned in his speech on the day that people choose to celebrate this day in various ways, but he was glad we had chosen to celebrate it close to the heart of the holiday – Robben Island, where many had suffered for the freedom of others.

While paddling we were on an almost indigo blue sea, with dusky dolphins diving gracefully nearby. We could look over at the Island on one side, and the Seapoint promenade on the other, and be truly grateful for the opportunity to be outside, healthy and doing a sport we love! Those who went around the island commented on the beauty of the silence as they circumnavigated it. It was a truly significant day to be grateful for our many life blessings!

The Prescient Freedom Paddle is a combined test of fitness, navigational and watercraft skills.  Paddling around an island can be treacherous in many instances, let alone if the weather is not in its best-dressed mood for that day.

The race is well-known in the surfski community, and in the last few years our SUP paddlers have been allowed to participate. This year we had two watermen taking on the full course of 27km around the island on their SUPs.

Thomas King and Rory Smythe, both well-known and experienced paddlers from the Cape Town SUP community, set out with the rest of the eager water-warriors. They both completed the full course – with some energy left over to spare at the end of the race. Thomas was happy to have improved on his time from last year and hit a 3:22 time – a massive achievement on a SUP! Rory came in just behind that at 3:35 – also a great time! 

The rest of the SUP Squad took a choice of coastal ways, with an 8km short route to Seapoint and a 15km medium route to Clifton on offer.

The calm weather here was a huge help, as on rougher days, the extra backwash created by the structures along the coastal route can cause the waters to be bumpy and unpleasant to navigate.

The men’s team in the 15km race worked on their drafting strategy to help one another along the way, with Sinda Thakathani taking line honours, followed by Rob Fowler and Gary Van Rooyen.

Not to be deterred by the distance, our two strong female athletes, Evette Terblanche and Elmari Renecle, came in not too long after them. Terry Allan held his own admirably, and we look forward to seeing him in many more races to come.

Our junior paddler, Migael Terblanche, sadly had to turn back to the start due to a pre-race injury, despite setting out so well with the other men.

On the 8km route, we saw Lynne Beachy-Head take the win after being challenged by a fellow paddler to enter the race.

Caroline Gill and Fazlin Perin, were second and third respectively, shortly behind Lynne.

The culmination of the day was a jubilant prize-giving with ample food and beverages for all to enjoy, lucky draw prizes, and the honouring of those who put their all into the sport they cherish. The sponsors had already ensured that all who entered felt like winners, as the goodie bags received at registration the day before were top class gifts, worthy of the entry fees and then some!

We would love to encourage more folk to join this race next year. There is sufficient time to train and we would love to grow the SUP participation and competition to the levels of provincial and bigger national teams. You will thoroughly enjoy the Prescient Freedom Paddle – the most beautiful, scenic and memorable race in Cape Town, with so much meaning behind its name!

All photo credits to Billy Ackerman 
ISA appoints Anthony Vela as StandUp Paddle Strategic Advisor

ISA appoints Anthony Vela as StandUp Paddle Strategic Advisor

Some interesting growth for SUP in the international arena coming up. All the best to Anthony Vela on such a prestigious appointment! 

International Surfing Association appoints Anthony Vela as StandUp Paddle Strategic Advisor

La Jolla, California, USA – March 31 2022

The International Surfing Association (ISA) has today announced the appointment of industry veteran Anthony Vela as the organization’s new Strategic Advisor on StandUp Paddle (SUP).

Vela brings a wealth of international SUP experience to the ISA having been an elite athlete, coach, commentator and organizer.  More recently he has been the ISA Race Director for the 2018 and 2019 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships as well as the same role for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru where SUP was under the responsibility of the ISA.

SUP continues to be a priority sport for the ISA as the organization is responsible for governance of SUP globally at an Olympic level. Vela will now work closely with ISA Vice-President and multiple SUP World Champion, Casper Steinfath, and the broader ISA leadership to further enhance the investment in SUP and ensure its continued worldwide development and promotion.

Commencing with immediate effect, Vela will support to drive forward the ISA’s SUP strategy, which includes competition formats, course designs and event scheduling. This involves maximizing the global profile of the 2022 ISA World StandUp Paddle and Paddleboard Championship (ISA WSUPPC) and ensuring the successful delivery of the event. The 2022 ISA WSUPPC host destination and dates will also be announced soon.

Working alongside ISA Executive Director, Robert Fasulo, and other ISA staff, Vela will additionally help in the technical management of SUP competitions when they are a part of a multi-sport event, for example at the forthcoming 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. He will also help the ISA explore new SUP events and formats to further accelerate the growth of SUP and increase its global appeal.

Through his new role, Vela will also look to enhance the competitive rules for SUP and assist in the process to select event judging panels and race officials.

Anthony Vela, ISA SUP Strategic Advisor, said:

“I am stoked to support the ISA team and to continue to contribute to the global development of SUP as a surfing discipline.  The potential for SUP on a global stage is huge and I have been thrilled to be a part of the ISA’s efforts to promote the sport at the World Championships and Pan Am Games.  I am excited for what the future holds and look forward to getting to work.”

Fernando Aguerre, ISA President, said:

“SUP is hugely important for the ISA as we continue our program of investment and promotion to develop the sport globally.  I am really happy to have someone of Anthony’s caliber and experience on our team and have no doubt he will make a big impact on our efforts.

“The global SUP community can look forward to great events in 2022 and, following surfing’s successful Olympic debut in Tokyo, the ISA is investing in our long-term plan to now see SUP included in the Olympic Program. Anthony’s extensive expertise and experience will help us along this journey and ensure we deliver the best SUP events for all athletes and fans.

“The global SUP board market is now estimated at USD 1.5 Billion and is forecast to surpass USD 3.8 Billion by 2032. This means we are in a prime position to help take SUP to the next level of mass appeal as we see interest in the sport surge – especially amongst young people in many new and different markets.”


This article first appeared on the ISA website: