Freedom Day dawned beautifully, with the threat of bad weather quickly dissipating. The news from the organisers was exactly what the Paddling Doctor would have ordered:
“Good morning!! Rain has come and gone. Wind has died. No sign of fog. Race is a go.”
The excellent organisational skills and teamwork of the race coordinators ensured that Covid protocols were kept, and the paddlers set off in groups from 8am for the long course around the island, followed by rowers, single, double and triple surfskis at half-hour intervals. The short and medium course paddlers were the last group to set off into the grey seas as the swell started to make itself known.
Here is the lowdown from some of the participants – it’s an interesting mix of experiences and consequences of good and bad decisions, with a little help from friends thrown in along the way!
Evette Terblanche, 15km course - Choose your board wisely!
It was one of the most challenging paddles ever! On a good day the strip between Granger Bay and Clifton 4th can be like a mirror. And that was the prediction. When we turned the corner at Granger Bay, we could see it was not to be. The swell was huge and bouncing off the rocks. I made a huge mistake and paddled on a flat-water board 23” wide. Needless to say, my balancing skills were tested to the max. and I was swimming at times – especially turning the buoy at Clifton. We had a little headwind there that worked in my favour, but the turn meant the bounce was now on my weaker side. At least the water temperature was pleasant! My first race as a Diva !!! Can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully Neptune will deliver something special again. And into the ocean I shall go again, train harder and be more observant of conditions. Special thanks to race organisers who ran a tight ship under these strange Covid conditions.
Picture below: Evette Terblance and Elmari Renecle, both 15km SUP participants.
Sinda Takathani, 15km course - The gift of an entry from an injured athlete to a recovering one.
Oh my gosh! The race was intense with the side swell bouncing when we were approaching Clifton beach. Worst thing was that I had a flat-water board but the race was more like a downwind. I had a wonderful time and I’m glad I did the race after recovering from an accident where I was hit by 2 cars.
Thanks to Gary Van Rooyen and Evette Terblanche for encouraging me to do the Freedom Paddle – I’m grateful for that. Special Thanks to Steve Tripney for the entry – I could have not done the paddle if he had not given me his son’s entry.
I finished 2nd in the men’s category, coming in after Gary And Tarryn. Yeah!
Picture below: Sinda Takathani, with his finisher’s medal after completing the 15km SUP course.
William Mapham, 15km course - The blessings of the safety crew.
It was an incredible experience, my first event like this, the organisation was pretty cool. I was really impressed by the adherence to the Covid Criteria – really well done! ….
The event itself was exhausting, but it was very satisfying to do it. I trained quite hard for it and STILL fell in a lot! I think a lot of the other guys are super-experienced compared to me, but I still had a good time and really appreciated the safety crew.
When I was battling to get out of Clifton on my feet, they came and showed me I should rather go wider and further out as it would be more stable there, which was exactly what happened, so the way back was much more pleasant thanks to them. I did not catch their names but thanks a lot to them!
Picture below: William Mapham, 15km SUP course participant.
Jadon Wessels, 27km course on prone - The stoke is beyond epic!
The Freedom Paddle is not only the longest, but also the most gruelling race in Africa, and this year was the most epic one we’ve had so far – with epic people and memories made that will never be lost!
Not only were we met with epic conditions, but we entered 3 times as many prone paddlers than we had in the past! This meant that it wasn’t only a bucket list event, but it was also an awesome opportunity to show the spectators of the ocean-sports world that prone is here and it is growing. We’re here to show people why we love prone and the ocean, and there’s no better way to do that than just pushing regardlessly through the pain as we love our sport.
Picture below: The winning 27km prone paddlers, from left Jonny Lucas, Levi Mayes, Jadon Wessels.
Levi Mayes, 27km course on prone - First full Freedom Paddle at 15 years of age!
Hi Supsa community, I am the youngest person to have done this race on a prone board. I enjoyed seeing the amazing wildlife like dolphins, seals, jellyfish and also being able to see the shipwrecks and beautiful coastline along the back of Robben Island. It was so awesome to be able to paddle in such a great community with all the other people who paddled on prones – it was so nice to have them there and such amazing camaraderie. I am super-stoked to be a part of this iconic race in commemoration of Freedom day which is such a big part of South African History. It was a hard, long paddle with big ocean swells, which is what I enjoy, and I am definitely going to be doing it next year. Cheers!
Picture below: Levi Mayes, 27km prone paddler.