Paddlers target third annual Dragon Run race

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am

More than 150 paddlers will compete in the third annual Dragon Run international surf-ski and outrigger championships over a 24-kilometre open-sea course today, vying for US$12,500 in prize money.

The race starts at Clearwater Bay and heads to the Ninepin Islands, where contestants are likely to face three-metre waves before they paddle to the finish at Stanley. 'This is going to be the race of the season, given the quality field,' said two-time winner Dawid Mocke, of South Africa, who has returned to defend his title.

A third of the competitors are from abroad and include some of the biggest names in the sport, such as last year's women's winner Michele Eray, who is also from South Africa.

Stiff competition is expected from reigning Molokai world champion Hank McGregor (South Africa), last year's runner-up Clint Pretorius (South Africa) and second runner-up Jeremy Cotter (Australia), along with nine-time world champion Dean Gardiner (Australia), Dubai Shamaal winner Tim Jacobs (Australia) and Sean Rice, who has just won the Mayor's Cup, a race around Manhattan.

In the outrigger-canoe event, Hawaiian champion Karel Tresnak Jnr will return to defend his title.

Local paddlers to watch include Leon Rossbotham, who has been both the surf-ski and outrigger racer to beat in local competitions this season, and Hong Kong windsurfing coach Rene Appel.