Pam Golding Properties Queen and King of the Kromme 2023 are Chloë Bunnett and Jasper Mocke. Well done!

by Richard Arderne

This is Jasper’s third title, with a 1hr 41min 12secs, and two titles in a row now. And great to have top paddler Chloe Bunnett here. Just a bit sad defending champion Jade Wilson wasn’t well on the day. It would have been exciting to see them race. However, jade was strong on Friday, sprinting down the Kromme in the river downwind! A bit more about Chloe is below.

And great to have Kirstin Scott on the podium for the umpteenth time over the last 15 years. Second-placed Riccardo Talevi has also been on our podiums many times, but perhaps not on top in singles? The third man was Thomas Lovemore. Slightly slower than his world champ brother Hamish, with Hein Van Rooyen just a few secs behind Thomas.

Hennie Roos, one of the ten EL paddlers, and unsurprisingly the first over 60 paddler on Saturday. PS BWCC had 16 paddlers, so they got the prize for the club with the most visitors! Two minutes later, Ashley Fulford, Chloe Bunnett, Brendon Thompson, one of SA’s top paddlers, 55 to 60), and young Morgan Tebbutt.

Then amazingly, 22 boats within the next five minutes, around the 2hr mark.

Uncharacteristically Rob Welsh was in the last spot in 2hr 15min, suffering from a cramp (Rob has been a frequent past visitor to our podiums).

Well done to everyone who braved the harsh conditions, strong westerly on the way up, and powerful incoming tide on the way back! 

Special mention of some relative newcomers to paddling (some not so young!) who paddled out of the sheltered canals into that wind, plus chop from passing boats, not easy! 

Judging by comments, we all expected to enjoy paddling back with the wind only to find the strong tide even more of a challenge than the wind. 

Over 80 paddlers, probably a record for this event, despite the challenging conditions and some last-minute faders (no names mentioned).

Thanks very much to all the volunteers. Charles Jonsson, Jen Vallance, Magda Boshoff, Carol Rothero, Kath Bowren, Anita Dobrowski, Gail Brooker, Dave-and Marie Louw, Chantel Fichardt James for the coffee & rusks, Paul Middleton & Chris Middleton once again taking their boat up the river. Also Jaco Prins and Dirk Harding for assisting the paddlers who swam. 

Another swimmer was Capt Pete King, within the first 100m! But being the stalwart he is, he paddled past most of the field, including irritatingly passing yours truly as well!

So next year, do we try again to have paddlers stay between the buoys and the deep channel (partly to make it fairer for surf skis vs k1s) or let everyone choose their own way? The trouble is that this can result in paddlers choosing a bad option and being forced to portage. Personally, I prefer the first option. And I witnessed Gary Atkinson in his k1 open up at least 200m versus Marcus Burri and me (in skis)/ This was at the long corner up the Geelhout on the way back by paddling in the very shallow water! He loved that! So I need to buy a k1!

Former World Champ Jasper Mocke needs no introduction to us in St Francis, but here is a short intro to Chloe Bunnett’s illustrious career: “I’ve been racing for the Spanish national Surfski team since 2014. In 2021, I achieved a silver medal at the European Surfski Champs. And a top 10 at the World Surfski Champs. I’ve won Cape Point Challenge twice and completed it 11 times”. Chloe lives between Knysna and Spain. 

PS Although it was a singles race, doubles and k3s were very welcome, and quite a few entered, notably the swift combination of surfers Phil Smith and Dale Staples .. and married couples Brandon Van Der Walt and Tracey van der Walt and Jason Goedhals and Natalie Goedhals.