On Wednesday, 6 June 2022, after nearly 500 St Francis Paddling Club time trials since 2011 (and many more before that), a new world record was set for 10km. It smashed the previous time by more than two minutes, with an incredible time of 35 minutes and 58 seconds!!

Given the quality of the two paddlers, we were expecting a good time, but not nearly as fast! And it was low tide when times are about 5% slower!

Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke are household names in the paddling world. Hank has been the top paddler in the world for many years, and Jasper not far behind, also a world champion.

Some background:

In May 2013, when the record was 43’23”, Pam Golding offered R1,000 for the first canoe or surfski (single or double) to break 40 minutes. This was increased in 2015 to R10,000.

The idea was to promote St Francis as a paddling and sporting destination, good for businesses and property values.

When it seemed that 40 minutes was a bridge too far, the time was eased to 41’45”, but with a catch. The R10,000 would go to the Sea Vista creche and a bottle of Pam Golding wine to the paddler/s!

In 2016, Greg Louw and local Phil Smith broke 41’45” and 40 minutes, with a 39’50”! So Disney Creche benefitted from R10,000’s worth of building maintenance.

It was then decided to offer R5000 for the first single to break Matt Bouman’s single record of 41’26” (set in 2016) and an additional R5000 to break 40 minutes in a single.

On 19 July 2018, Hank not only smashed Matt’s record, but he also broke 40 minutes! When he had 50m to go, the Pam Golding franchisee shouted that the prize would be doubled if he broke 39 minutes, but (luckily!) his time was exactly 39’00”.

Hank and Jasper winning the 2016 World Marathon Champs in 2016 in Germany (photo supplied)

We thought this time would never be beaten, but with Jasper now living in JBay, we thought maybe this could be achieved. So on 20 May this year, we offered R10,000 for the first single to break Hank’s record. However, we attached some strings: the paddler would give some training and take the Pam Golding franchisee on a downwind to JBay!

In the meantime, local ace Phil Smith had improved the doubles record time from 39’50” to 38’15” in 2021 with Ricci Talevi.

On Wednesday, 8 June this year, whilst I was overseas, I read on our WhatsApp group that Hank and Jasper would be paddling that evening. Messages asked what Pam Golding was offering, which I tried to ignore!

Although our offer had been for a single to break 39 minutes, I decided that Hank and Jasper paddling a St Francis time trial was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

So we offered R10,000 if they could break not only the doubles record (38’15”) and 38min, but also 37min. We thought this was a safe bet, especially with a low tide.

Well, they smashed the old record, and they smashed 38min, 37min, and 36min. So they paddled the 10km course in an astonishing 35’58”

This means they paddled at an incredible average speed of 16.7 km/h for 10km. On a course which includes eleven corners per 5km lap (i.e. 22 corners for 10km), almost all very sharp corners!

Surely a record never to be surpassed!

By Richard Arderne