Saturday, January 10, 2009

converging paddlers

Need to be amused, made to feel superior, and learn something at the same time? Then you’ve made a wise choice in visiting Rotto Bloggo this weekend.

We’ve intercepted a media release that merits close examination. It’s about an event called The Doctor, a paddling race from Rottnest to Scarborough. We hadn’t heard of it before – but we admit we’re sometimes pretty gormless – but the associated website says this is the fifth year of The Doctor’s incarnation.

The first breathless par: ‘Olympic kayak hopeful Reece Baker will be on home waters next week when the planet’s best take their shot at World Cup glory in the richest ocean paddling race in Australia on January 17.’

The planet’s best? Should we quibble about World Cup: is a qualifier needed, as there are several?

‘With more than $30,000 on offer ‘The Doctor’, as the 23 kilometre marathon downwind paddle from Rottnest Island to the Scarborough Beach Auditorium is known, will see paddlers from all over the world converge on the Western Australian capital to take on Baker, former local Ben Allen and the country’s best open water paddlers including Tim Jacobs, Murray Stewart, Jeremy Cotter and Caine Eckstein.’

Paddlers converging! Will there be a wet whacking sound, when they get to close to each other, and their paddles start banging together? But OK.

‘Australia’s elite will shape against a host of international stars including legendary South African and reigning World Series champion Oscar Chalupsky, fellow leading South Africans Dawid Mocke and Hank McGregor, the 2008 champion from the famous Molokai to Oahu race, Tahitian Lewis Laughlin and paddlers from New Zealand, Hawaii, Asia and Europe.’

The elite will shape? Stars, legendary and famous paddlers…and then some from other countries, too.

‘Holmes will stage her own international battle with South African Olympian Michelle Eray and New Zealand star Katie Pocock both confirmed starters.’

Just a tic. Who, pray tell, is Holmes? Can’t be John Holmes. An international battle…like World War II, except not with tanks? And there’s no law that says you can’t use commas in successive pars.

‘The event, the brainchild of Perth born nine-time Molokai to Oahu winner Dean Gardiner and fellow WA paddling icon Ash Nesbitt, is one of only four 4star events in the surf ski world series and also features categories for outrigger canoes and the growing discipline of stand up surfboard paddling.’

Perth-born, please. The successive fours are clumsy. But ‘growing discipline’?

‘The outrigger canoe field will be headed by world number one Hawaiian Karel Tresnak, while the arduous stand up surfboard paddling race will feature world renowned Western Australian big wave surfers Damon Eastough and Courtenay Gray. Eastough has a cult following in the surfing industry and is a former winner of the Australian Oakley Big Wave contest.’

Cult following. Damon will be described as ‘mercurial’ next. All these things sound pretty arduous to me. Do you think Courtenay is a future winner of the AOBW?

‘Gardiner has been at the top of ocean paddling both as a competitor and a race promoter and organiser for almost two decades and the veteran believes ‘The Doctor’, now in its fifth year, is the world’s best pure downwind race.’

OK. What are the odds there’s a quote from the man himself coming up expanding on the purity and fat-freeness of The Doctor?

“This event has developed into the most competitive and coveted downwind race on the international ocean paddling calendar,” Gardiner said.

Why, pray tell, is it the most competitive?

“The fact it is a crossing, from Rottnest to the mainland, with just the paddlers and the open ocean makes it such a pure test of the paddler and the elements.

I’m not very nautical or sporty. But apart from the ocean and the paddlers, what else would there be?

“We have the best paddlers in the world coming to Western Australia’s summer playground and I know from talking to the overseas guys they are looking forward to taking on Australia’s best.”

WA’s summer playground! And it has 63 bays and is 4.5km at its widest point!

‘The event will be followed up by a 15km two person team relay from Fremantle to City Beach the next day, Sunday January 18.’

Just followed is fine, thank you. Or should we have followed down? Or followed through?

‘Both races are not just for the elite either with the event open to paddlers of all levels. Entries and event information can be found at’

Either or. Or either. Are they desperate for entries?

I know it’s the PR person’s job to convey information to the media, and try and whip up an air of excitement about these things. But do they have to sound like a tired sports broadcaster going through the motions and fumbling with cliché?

And can we please spell Thomson Bay and kilometre correctly? (see the website for the error).

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