Sure, surf lifesavers row boats, paddle boards and swim but ski paddling is the competitive discipline that grabs the attention of the crowds and television audiences. Colourful and fast, with a link to kayaking and the growing sport of off shore ski paddling a ski race final at Australian Championships will almost certainly boast Olympic medallists and current and past members of National teams. Scarboro has a proud tradition in ski paddling with the Vidler and Wright families and recently as the home of best female paddlers in the country.
A surf lifesaving ski must conform to tight regulations with each ski requiring a sticker of compliance that is checked prior to major competitions. They are expensive craft, typically $3000 or more new and propelled by paddles the can cost upwards of $500. While the club maintains a fleet of good quality skis for up and coming young paddlers to learn on it is expected that every paddler source his or her own ski as soon as they are proficient paddlers. There are no local manufacturers and it’s necessary to order skis from the east with waiting times in the order of six months. There’s a healthy market for second hand skis which are recommended while learning.
Balance is the first skill that a new paddler must acquire, once attained coaching and training focus on paddling technique, surf skills and fitness. It’s generally accepted that a number of years of paddling will be required before a paddler will be competent in all surf conditions. A paddler must be at least 15 years old before they are allowed to commence.
Traditional ski races are termed ‘round the cans’ with a start off the beach, negotiation of the surf break, a paddle in clear water around three buoys followed by chasing the swells and surf on the way home. Given that ski paddling is a sport outside of surf lifesaving there’s also a large number of other events available to a ski paddler.
A beginners group starts up in autumn and it’s essential for new paddlers to gain experience in flat water conditions over the off season to be ready for more directed training during the summer. Since paddling events like the Avon Descent are out of the normal season and training for skis occurs all year round including weights and running. It’s fun, great for whole of body fitness and just fantastic to be out on the water.
Structured sessions are programmed throughout most of the year with specific training cycles to match the competition calendar.
Ski paddlers range from teenagers to grandfathers and we all train together with great camaraderie. It’s a sport that has become a lifestyle and transcends surf lifesaving.
Interested in becoming Ski Paddler?
Organize your transfer today (membership page) and fill out a membership form and let us know what club you are coming from.
Contact our ski captain for any further information:
Ski Captain: Marty Robinson