A PADBURY paddler is preparing for his first Lancelin Ocean Classic this month.
Organisers have added ocean kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to the program for the annual wind and kite surfing event.
Gary Maughan said Perth’s paddling community was looking forward to the marathon race from Ledge Point to Lancelin on January 16.
“The thing we just haven’t had is a really long distance race – that’s the biggest plus for everybody, to do something that’s really long distance,” he said.
“Back in 2006 when I started paddling, surf skis were still quite rare, with most of the ocean paddling fraternity paddling spec skis.
“Ocean paddling and downwind ocean racing then became one of the largest growth sports, with the number of surf skis at paddling events growing every year.
“As a sport we had lots of issues with insurance, rules and teething problems trying to find a home with either Surf Life Saving WA or Canoeing Australia; as a result, ocean paddling events dried up.”
Maughan ran the Indian Ocean Paddlers, based in City Beach, and helped build up the sport again with support from Canoeing WA.
He is a member of the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club and helped build the Sunset Surfski series.
Maughan said existing events covered short distance downwind paddles of 12km and medium distance runs of 24-27km, such as the West Coast Downwinder and the Doctor.
“There was just one final frontier to conquer for Perth ocean paddling – the long distance ocean paddle,” he said.
“Together with the City Beach Ocean Paddlers, the search for a long distance paddle location began in 2013.
“All this planning and searching came to fruition when an email arrived from Project 3 asking if we would be interested in being part of the Lancelin Ocean Classic.
“Perth is the windy city, with the doctor not only bringing in a wonderful cooling breeze but also a chance for downwind paddlers, kite surfers and windsurfers to get out there and enjoy the wind.
“That makes the Lancelin Ocean Classic the ideal event for WA’s inaugural long distance paddle event by joining our fellow ocean enthusiasts in their marathon event.”
Maughan said the competitors should take about three or four hours to paddle from Ledge Point to Lancelin, with the top competitors likely to move through the water around 15km/h.
“That depends on how much wind resistance there is as well,” he said.
The Lancelin Ocean Classic runs from January 14 to 17, with social events planned as well as racing.
For more information, visit www.lancelinoceanclassic.com.|au.