The Mike Snell Trophy

on Sep 17 in Uncategorized by

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The Paddle NSW Open Ocean and Harbour series has come to a close for 2014. We’ve been treated to some fabulous races on terrific courses this season, the final one being Middle Harbour, “Spit to the Zoo”. This race has always been a personal favourite as it takes in a terrific part of Sydney Harbour and offers a great challenge of reading tides, wind conditions and the big ocean swells, which come straight through the heads. The race organisers opted for a slight change of course for this round, taking a right hand turn at Middle Head and heading straight down the Harbour to Taronga Zoo and back, instead of heading into Little Manly as has been the norm for many races, and turning earlier in the Harbour. I must admit to being a huge fan of this new course. It’s pretty special to race down the Harbour in the direction of the iconic Harbour Bridge and take in the city skyline and Opera House.

A significant part of the race was the inaugural Mike Snell Trophy, to be awarded to the first singles paddler across the line. Mike was a well known identity in the Sydney surfski scene, having been involved with the sport for many years, as well as being an excellent multi sport racer. I didn’t know Mike terribly well, only to saw hello to really, but I had raced him a lot, and in most cases came off second best to a tenacious racer. I remember being stoked the first time I managed to beat him, because for me it wasn’t easily done. But I knew I’d worked hard for it, which is how it should be.

Mike was taken far, far too early, after a quick battle with cancer. His passing has left a massive hole in the lives of his close friends, and to commemorate his life, they initiated the Mike Snell Trophy, which will be awarded at the Middle Harbour race every year.

The race got off to a clean start with a lead group of 5 skis forming (Sasa Vujanic, Cade Barnes, Joey Hall, Daniel Tamsett and myself). Not far ahead was a very big rescue boat from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, which sped up to create a massive wash after about 1500mt of racing. Myself and Joey Hall managed to eek out the best of the washes, with Joey nailing a great run to form a lead around Middle Head. Just on my tail as we past the Head were the other three, and we formed a group of four in hot pursuit of the young gun. I figured that it would only be a matter of time, and maybe a km or two until we reeled him in. How wrong was I? Joey put the hammer down and backed himself, raced at the front on his own the whole way. He crossed the finish line just ahead of Sasha, Daniel and myself to claim the Mike Snell Trophy. I don’t think an effort could be more deserving of winning a trophy with Mike’s name on it, as he showed true grit and determination, making the best of an opportunity, and most importantly, he worked his backside off.  I’m sure Mike would have been proud that a race which was contested like that was done so in his honour.

RIP Mike.


Stewart O’Regan

Think Kayak Australia

Mob:     0404 236 638
Skype:  stewieor