Bridge to Beach 2015

on Mar 24 in Uncategorized by

Sean 640 x 360


Bridge to Beach, probably Sydney’s most iconic surfski race, starting under the Harbour Bridge and finishing at Manly. It’s a no holes barred 11km sprint across the best harbour city in the world with some of the biggest names in Australian paddling having their name on the top prize, including Jeremy Cotter, Tim Jacobs and Clint Robinson. This year a South African came to town and etched his name in the history of the race, Sean Rice claiming a great win.

My alarm went off at 4.45 on race morning, and I could hear the wind whistling through the trees already, the predicted 17knt easterly winds had arrived. For those who know the Harbour, an easterly wind isn’t ideal for the Bridge to Beach race course, as it means a tough headwind slog towards middle head, and potentially choppy waters around that area. It was going to be a tough day at the office, but who would want it any other way? We loaded up the trailer at Rose Bay and headed into the city and to the start at Blues Point.

The race was scheduled to start at 8am, but as ever with this race, you need to be on the money on the start as it’s such a dynamic environment that once a clean line is established, the gun can go at any moment. This year the start was really clean, I don’t think anyone pushed it and everyone got any well. Well almost. A few of us who decided on a tight line down the wall were greeted with a bunch of fishing lines around the corner which lead to a bit of shenanigans untangling and getting going again. As soon as were were out of cover of the bridge, we were slapped in the face by the stiff winds, and that was to be the tone for the next six or seven kms. It was a case of hanging onto any wash available and grinding hard.

Approaching Middle Head, the waters started to chop up more, as the east swell and wind, combined with the rebound made for some very interesting stand up waves. Speaking to paddlers after the race, there were lots of swims around this section, forcing home the point that you should be paddling a ski you’re as comfortable remounting as you are paddling if you intend to tackle rough water races. Once past the head, some of the rebounds made for some nice runs towards Manly, and the wind started to help a little too offering some chops to chase.

Up ahead I could make out the bright Think PFD of Sean Rice and a small group which contained Cory Hill, Jeremy Cotter, Michael Booth and a double. With some serious speedsters in that pack, and particularly guys with a lot of iron man experience, I knew Sean’s race plan would be to burn them off on the water so it wouldn’t come down to a sprint up the beach at Manly. Apparently beach sprinting isn’t the Prawn’s favourite sport. Approaching Manly, with less influence from the wind, there were small runs to be had from the ferries and maybe some of that east swell lapping around. It was going to be a massive grind to the sand for the front runners, and speaking to Sean afterwards, this is where he made his break. “Man, you know how that ski is like, it just took off on those small runs” he said of the Uno Max Ultimate he raced.

Team Think had a really solid day on the water with Mackenzie Hynard inside the top 10 singles and I finished 11th single, so that was 3 Uno Maxes in the top 11. As important as the race results are for the top guys, it was a huge thrill for me to see so many people paddling Think skis and achieving some great results and personal goals. Well done to you all on your races, on what was a hard day for everyone.


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A shout out to Dean Gardiner and his team at OceanPaddler on another well run race. I can’t imagine the logistics of getting around 300 paddlers across Sydney Harbour safely must entail, but they nailed it again. This year’s event was run to support the Fragile X Association, so it was a great privilege to be able to paddle to show we are all behind this very worthy cause.

The weekend closed Sean’s PaddleLife tour of Australia and New Zealand. He now heads off to Dubai and then onwards to every corner of the globe it seems spreading the surfski lifestyle. What a cool year of adventures lie ahead.

Hopefully see you all at another race very soon,


Stewart O’Regan

Think Kayak Australia

Mob:     0404 236 638
Skype:  stewieor