• The race started in 1980 to "fill the gap" in between the years that the PE to East London race is run.
• Current record holder is Sean Rice in a time of 3hr 40 mins (2010)
• People who have won the race twice include: Herman Chalupsky; Oscar Chalupsky; Paul Marais, Dawid Mocke, Peter Creese and Hank McGregor.
• Out of the 19 races held so far, 2 have had strong north-westerly winds; 11 have had strong south-easterly winds; and 6 had calm conditions.
• 1984 and 1995 there were extremely strong south-easterly winds. Looks like every ten years, the south-easter howls.
• 1984 there were 31 entries. The wind at Soetwater was blowing 28kts, 6 competitors withdrew before the start. 15 more retired before Tommy Tucker.The wind was measured at 47kts at Cape Point, making this the year the Cape Point Challenge legend was born. The winners took over 6 hours to complete the course, prospects for 2005?!
• 1995 the organisers changed the course, which ran from Buffels to Cape Point and back to Fish Hoek.
• 2005 organisers were forced to run the course from Fish Hoek to Cape Point and back (56km) due to high winds and excessive swell there were 250 entrants. Dawid Mocke won his first CPC and Nikki Mocke, her second.
• 2006 a decision was taken to stage the event annually starting in 2007
• 2007 Peter Cole lead for most of the race but was overtaken by Durban's Daryl Bartho just 5km from the finish, Bianca Beavitt won the ladies.
• 2008 The course was again changed to its current format to start in Scarborough. The compulsory 10 minute stop at Buffels Bay was taken out and paddlers rounded Cape Point and headed straight downwind with the southeaster to Fish Hoek - a distance of 50 km. Hank McGregor won his first singles title, while Michelle Eray won her first title.
• 2009 Due to a howling 30kt southeaster blowing at Cape Point, the course started in Simons Town, paddlers paddled to Buffels Bay and then out to Cape Point where they rounded a bouy and back to Fish Hoek. Dawid Mocke triumphed for a second time with Michelle Eray also picking up her second title.
• 2010 Flat glassy conditions greeted the paddlers with Sean Rice taking control of star studded field as he rounded Cape Point to set a new record of 3hr 40mins. Michele Eray won the race for the 3rd time.
• 2011 Again, the conditions were picture perfect with Hank McGregor taking control once rounding Cape Point, to take his second title. Alexa Cole won the ladies.
• 2012 Was a gruelling NW Challenge. Flat as a pancake, wind picked up steadily throughout the morning. Closest finish ever with 5 guys sprinting for the line. Hank Mc Gregor, Sean Rice, Grant V D Walt, Simon Van Gysen, Jasper Mocke.
Peter Creese 1980, 1988
Tony Scott 1982
Oscar Chalupsky 1984, 1999
Garth Watters 1986
Ian Boyd 1989
Lee McGregor 1991
Paul Marais 1993, 1995
Peter Cole 1997
Herman Chalupsky 2001, 2003
Dawid Mocke 2005, 2009
Daryl Bartho 2007
2008, 2011, 2012, 2013
Sean Rice 2010
Jean Wilson 1997, 1999
Kim Rew 2001
Nikki Mocke 2003, 2005, 2013
Bianca Beavitt 2007
Michelle Eray 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
Alexa Cole 2011
CAPE DOCTOR ROARS FOR IRON HEARTS (Written as a prelude to the 2003 race)
By Sean Brewis
The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve covers the southern tip of the Peninsula and ends, theatrically, in the towering headland known as Cape Point. The sheer cliffs fall dramatically for about 300m (985 ft) to the turbulent Atlantic Ocean below. From Cape Point, on a clear day when the gale force winds don’t howl, you can see the entire False Bay coast to Danger Point and Hangklip in the east.
It is against this backdrop that one of South Africa’s most gruelling offshore endurance marathons takes place – the Cape Point Challenge 2003- 60 kilometres of potentially hazardous terrain: foul weather, large swell and converging currents. Get ready for it!
For many years the race has reflected the hallmark of a good surf lifesaver. In more recent years those with the heart for it have pulled through to relay the extraordinary experience of the feat.
For Fish Hoek lifesaver Peter Creese, a slim young man of average height with ‘an incredible heart rate’, a challenge had been ushered: the pending virgin clash of 60 kilometres of wild ocean with the force of an inner desire to overcome whatever prevails. A call to stand up and be counted amongst a few kindred spirits, one brisk morning in 1980, and forerun an ocean experience that would carve its place into the hearts and minds of generations to come. Craft in hand, they hugged the Soetwater beach, and at the crack of dawn, forged ahead.
As Jill Creese remembers, “It was very exciting to watch them take off, being the first time. In those days there was no sports science institute and Peter had many papers of his own training schedules as he was forever paddling. He worked out his own bio-rhythms and was friends with Tim Noakes, who was very interested in him because of his slow heart rate and belief that Peter would excel at running.”
Jill recalls her son’s stamina and determination “He wasn’t in the lead ‘til the point but he shot through the kelp to make up ground. I recall Peter expressing to me at the Buffels stop the amazement of the Cape fishermen when he, a slight man in his thin craft, shot through the kelp, further shocking Clive Wakeford (president of Fish Hoek Lifesaving), standing at the vantage site overlooking south western reef. ‘Waarvandaan kom J?’(Fishermen) ‘Van Soetwater af ! (Peter) Is J mal?’(Fishermen)
“1 ½ hours into the race, a safety and camera boat drew alongside the front runners to stop the race. Tony Scott who was ahead had turned around and met us coming back. I hit Glenn on the head with my paddle as he started steering us back. ‘If you race, you race.’ Tony and Dave, and then Oscar, passed us going back out to the Point.” (Lee McGregor)
Glenn was nursing a badly gashed eye at the end. He merely told a reporter on the day that he thought he had been struck by a paddle. Glenn, a springbok lifesaver who went on to complete 10 consecutive PE to EL races before being lost at sea off Clifton 4th in 1997, said at the time “It was the worst seas I’ve ever raced in. But that’s not the point. We don’t do these things just to impress anyone or for a macho image. We do it because it makes us better lifesavers.”
“The day before it was rolling through so huge, you wouldn’t have got through from Cape Maclear to the Point. Everyone would have swum. On race day, we started drifting back a kilometre and met the McGregors, decided to sit behind them, and then it lulled and we took off again.” (Tony Scott)
Lee ‘Mad Mac’ McGregor still feels The Cape Point should remain one of the toughest races. “The Durban guys (Scotty, Oscar and Herman) started turning races around looking for downwind races. When touring Australia in 1982 Cape Point was seen by Aussie lifesavers as the toughest race IN THE WORLD. It was always a challenge, not just a race. Can you or can’t you make it on the day against the elements?”
Sentiment perhaps shared by another intrepid ocean paddler, “To me surf-skiing is about that extra dimension, conquering a piece of coastline in sometimes challenging conditions. Paddling around Cape Point basically defines the "Surf-ski Experience" for me.” (Memoir insert: Paul Marais; Single ski winner 1993,’95)
Safety has, however, remained of paramount importance to the longstanding officer of the event, Brian Sturman, from Fish Hoek Lifesaving Club. Brian received an award of commendation for bravery in 1971 for placing the safety of his life at risk in rescuing a shark attack victim off Fish Hoek. Brian and Clive Wakeford were also the first to do a False Bay crossing in a ski craft.
“Paddlers need to take all necessary precautions. All must have flares strapped to your body, not craft, as you might (but hopefully don’t) lose your craft. Safety jackets are advisable: B Grade surf ski paddlers are required to wear safety jackets. There will be 3 safety boats leaving the Soetwater (The Island) start. One will sweep from the back and the other 2 will monitor the field, one acting as a marker off Cape Maclear and the other off Cape Point itself. AtBuffels Bay there’s a 10-minute compulsory stop, where a doctor will be available for check-up.” (Brian Sturman)
The history of the race reflects two decades of the country’s most talented ocean and springbok canoeists lunging at victory! 1982 was a classic battle of the ages as the young Chalupsky’s challenged the ‘Old Guard’. Herman led out to the Cape Point, then blew 20 minutes from the Point leaving older brother Oscar (who had won his first PE to EL the previous year by 90 seconds over Tony Scott), to take on ‘Scotty’ in the 1 ½ metre swell and 5 knot SSE wind. Scotty recalls Oscar being 2 minutes ahead at the Point. “I picked up a minute to Buffels, then another minute to Boulders and we were level pegged for the last 800 metres to Fish Hoek Beach, when I overtook him and won by 17 seconds. I remember my comment ‘Oscar, you’ve never beaten me on the runs!’
Tony Scott was still under the impression (until records re-emerged in November 2001!) that his record time, set in 1982, remained. He was disappointed to find out that Peter Cole’s 1997 time, a lead-time of 10 minutes on Paul Marais, is the ‘new’ record. – Dammit, only a minute’s difference!’
The Cape Point Challenge continues to be a barometer of change in the nature of surf ski paddling for ‘better or for worse’. In 1991 there was the first international team out from Hawaii/ America (Included the top 3 ‘Molokai’ contestants) and South Africa fielded an U21 team (Brett Pengelly, Andrew Blackburn and the late Daniel Conradie). In 1993 it hosted the springbok trials for the Molokai and in 1995 foul weather caused a change in course for the first time, namely: Day 1- Buffels to Cape Point, back to Fish Hoek; and Day 2-Hout Bay to Camps Bay.
n 1993 Kim Elliot (Port Elizabeth) and Antja Manfroni (then recently crowned World k2 marathon champ from East Germany) broke open new ground for women surf ski paddlers by completing the race in a ladies double ski, as did Port Elizabeth’s Nicole Vlok and Julian Patterson in a mixed double. In 1997 the Cape’s Jean Wilson and Nikki Lihou became the first women to complete the event in single ski, and in 1999 Barbara Cole became the third woman to have completed the event in a single ski in the history of the race. That same year Port Elizabeth’s Nina Swart completed the race with Howard Loftus in a mixed double.
With favourable conditions a 4th lady in single ski may soon join these select few: “I completed the Mini Cape Point challenge and 49 km False Bay Crossing (Cape Hangklip to Fish Hoek) earlier this year. Weather permitting I’m keen for the Cape Point Challenge: I prefer surf and downwind to flats. (KIM REW: 2000 Cape Series winner)
The 1999 race saw rising talent Graeme Solomon exit early after snapping his cable 20 minutes from the start and Paul Marais anguished a defeat to the big O after cable trouble near the end.
“The Cape Point Challenge is also special in that if you win the race - you hold the title for 2 years - and there are many paddlers hungry for that title this year!" (Paul Marais: insert from memoir)