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