From Tassie to Ulladulla – Makai Cup 2015

on Mar 05 in Uncategorized by

Luke 640 x 360


Makai Cup 2015


A few weeks ago I got a call from the boss (Stew) , “Want to come up and race the Makai Cup down the south coast?” It didn’t take long to make the decision as I’ve heard some great reports about the race and the last few years have been excellent down wind runs and event of the year in 2013. “Yep, I’m in” was the response. The chance to paddle in races around Australia is something I have really become hooked on. While I go into the races and give it 100% and try for decent a placing but never bother the elite end , for me its about experiencing the different coastlines and paddling groups we have around Australia.


Fri 13th

As with all trips away from Tassie to race, very early mornings are in order , up at 4 am then a 90 min drive to Launceston for a 1 hr swim session with good friend Trent Hadley. Then a short drive to airport for my 90 min flight to meet Stew at the airport , then a 3hr drive down to Ulladulla. Today was going to be long but the double shot of coffee at Hudson’s was going to keep me awake for another hour or 2. I’m betting wont be my last ! Checking weather reports while waiting to board and conditions are looking good with NE 27km winds up our tail for the race. I’m getting excited about a fun downwind race. After doing some deliveries of some custom colour Thinks with Stew  in Sydney, we drive 3 hrs down late arvo and spend the night at a motel in Ulladulla so we can have a relaxed morning.


Sat 14th – Race day

We decided to go have a paddle and check out the land marks for the finish as people completely missed the headland/finish last year. We got on the water at 8am and already a breeze from the NE was starting to come up. After a 5 km recon paddle it was back to motel pack up and have some breakfast, then head back down to get ready to race. The Makai Paddlers have a great setup and had everything in place. They have a new new transport trailer which is amazing that can hold 20-30 skis and also transport vans to ferry groups up to the start at Bendalong. We unloaded and waited for race start which was scheduled for a 2 pm start. Looking out to the bay some nice runs are being chased by paddlers warming up and the race was promising to be a lot of fun. After the race briefing from Damo we ventured out to line up and to get underway. I lined up far left and soon realised with the rolling/creeping start i had made a bad decision. Too late now and was chasing tails into a head wind for 3 km to the turning marker. I was hurting badly trying to catch up and managed to turn roughly in 20th spot but was left with some work to do. Soon as we turned the runs opened up and after gathering myself it was time to peg a few spots back and enjoy the ride. After a couple km I had managed to climb back into top 6 and spotted Dean Gardiner inside on my right. Having never done this course before and flying blind a bit i decided to surf over a bit closer to Dean (previous winner and legend of the sport). My thinking was he will know the best line and is unreal in chasing runs so stay close and you could have a good race. I managed to pull ahead a bit towards the end but ended a bit wider than Dean and he got around the headland in front and stayed the same for the 1km finish. I really enjoyed being close and watching how he surfs the runs and actually learned a lot from keeping an eye on him. He makes it looks so easy. In the end i finished 5th . 60sec separated 2nd- 5th so was good to be not to far off the pace. New Think Kayak team member Mackenzie Hynard paddled a superb race to win and shows what talent & bright future he has and is great bloke too!!

Makai Paddlers had the support of the navy helicopter that was buzzing overhead during the race which was pretty cool but the main job was to deliver the the Makai Cup to Macca , pretty cool concept! Think Kayak had 3 uno max in the top 5 which is great for Think & Stew, the conditions had everything from flat, headwind , downwind & cross chop, it shows that these skis can handle all conditions.


1. Mackenzie Hynard- Think Uno Max

2. Mark anderson- Fenn

3. Cade Barnes – Think Uno Max

4. Dean Gardiner- Fenn

5. Luke O’Garey – Think Uno Max

Mackenzie 2













A big shout out needs to go to the Makai Paddlers, they ran a great race and the vibe is unreal. They are super friendly and welcome everyone from beginner to elites. I am looking foward to coming back next year as it is just a great race to participate in and the effort and passion these guys put in to make the race happen deserves to be supported. Thanks heaps to Stew for looking after me for the weekend. Was good to get out and experience another race in a different part of Australia I have not been too. If anyone wanted a weekend away and a fun race , mark the Makai Cup on your list for 2016.


Luke O’Garey

Think Kayak Tasmania



Stew 640 x 360



Photos taken from the Makai Paddlers Facebook page, which were expertly taken by Cameron Staunton again this year.