Starboard Team Wins Top 3 Positions at Harry’s Paddle.

Congratulations to Pete Cox and the entire crew who helped make Harry’s Paddle Event a big success over the weekend in Eastern Australia..  Starboard Team Riders Trevor Tunnington and Beau O’Brian battled it out in the 8.5km distance event, with Trevor taking the win just ahead of Beau.  Paul Jackson, riding a Starboard Sprint, placed 3rd.

We received a great recap from Founder Pete Cox who gives us insight into the overall highlights and how Harry’s Paddle was created to raise awareness and funding for the Harry Meyn Foundation and Harry’s House, a family retreat for those with cancer, or families who have just lost a loved one to the disease.

More from Pete here:

As 201 competitors converged on the Stockton Peninsula in Newcastle NSW Australia, even the grey clouds that loomed above would not dampen the excitement of this the 03rd Annual Harrys Paddle. The location and venue places competitors , families and friends on a peninsula that is the opening to one of the worlds busiest coal transit ports to the west & an amazing stretch of sand dunes for 34klms to the North East lapped by the Pacific Ocean and creating the ideal opportunity to deliver a two day event consisting of a BOP challenge on the Saturday followed by a 8.5klm flat water race on the Sunday . The event was originally created by Pete Cox to raise awareness toward the Harry Meyn Foundation and offer donations toward the foundation from race registrations and activities across the event. As the event continues to grow it has allowed itself to expand its support in to the local community by donating to the Stockton Surf Club and Stockton Bowling Club as well as numerous local business that all come together for this great weekend. The Foundation was founded in loving memory of Harry Meyn and Harry’s House was built as a family retreat for those with cancer, or families who have just lost a loved one to the disease. “From our experience with Harry being diagnosed with cancer [and subsequent death]

… it turns the family upside down,” David Meyn, Harry’s father and CEO of the Harry Meyn foundation said. “The family literally gets torn apart and doesn’t have that chance to be together. Harry’s House allows them to get away from everything, albeit only a week at a time, but allows the family to reconnect… and recharge for the journey ahead.”

As the National and International competitors gathered, predictions were being made as to who would win the classic battles the Australian stand-up paddling community

has come to know and love. With the return of title holders and event ambassadors Sondra Purser , Beau OBrian and Toby Cracknell challenges amongst the field were well written before the first event began. Newcomer James Casey versus Jake Jensen in the BOP and Beau O’Brian, Trevor Tunnington and Paul Jackson duking it out in the distance were feasts for spectators. In the women, it’s always Karla Gilbert versus Angela Jackson in any space they race. “She usually gets me in the BOP stuff,” Mrs Jackson, the current SUPRacer world number six said. “Hopefully in the flat-water and distance stuff, I’ll have her number.” Angela Jackson says yesterday’s action in the BOP was the “gnarliest” conditions she’s raced in. “[It was] a tough little shorie, heaps of side wind and head wind and chop… but it was good to see everyone give it a go,” she said.

In the RACE to the bridge and back on Sunday, there was a lot redemption needed from some of the better-known paddlers. Queensland’s Kelly Margetts took the BOP crown, with James Casey and Toby Cracknell in second and third respectively. “I just had no energy in the tank [in the BOP] so hopefully I can pull it out,” current SUPRacer world number four Jake Jensen said prior to the Bridge and Back on Sunday. “It’s flat-water, it’s hard to pull away from anyone in flat-water.” Even more glory to Margetts was winning the side bet he had with his Lahui Kai teammate Jaden Jensen. As a result, Margetts was fortunate to race the gruelling 8.5klm Flat Water event to the Bridge and Back on a 14 foot board. His younger minion was forced to grind it out on a 12’6. It was a battle of wits, line and pace to see who would fall away first to the half way mark for the elite competitors, paddling the first four kilometres in just under 20 minutes. James Casey, who led the pack to the first turn, said he and Trevor Tunnington pushed a wider line, hoping to gap the field to the bottom mark. I was in the wash and probably coming 18th from the start. I wanted clean water so I rolled the dice,” he said. “I looked at the tide charts before the race, so I knew it was running.” Unfortunately for James, the chase pack caught up just before the turn. Coupled with a fall, the task proved too difficult to try and grab the win on the second leg. Last year’s third place finisher Grant Hardiman said there was so much movement between the lead packs, it was hard to navigate and have tactics. “One guy would take off and a few guys would stick to him and realise he wasn’t going fast enough so they’d run back,” he said. Some dicey moves and spills on the second half of the race had some bitter rivalries surface. Word back in the finish line, there was some pushing and shoving reminiscent of the 2014 Bilbao challenger. However, as one of the world’s elite paddlers put it, “there’s so many positives in this event, it doesn’t even need mentioning… it’s all part of racing.”

In the end, the Sunny Coast’s Trevor Tunnington took the top spot on a over defending champion Beau O’Brian and Paul Jackson who finished second and third respectively. Tunnington said it while being fun, was a super hard race for him to win. “We had a bit of a wash ride train going amongst the guys,” he said. “I went sort of  medium pace, but then towards the end, I sprinted the last few kilometres.” 

In the ladies, Angela Jackson got off to an amazing start, leading the girls essentially from start to finish. Rounding the bottom mark, Angela had a roughly 150 metre lead over Karla Gilbert, with Terrene Black trailing behind. Those positions didn’t change for the rest of the race. Angela took the win, with Karla and Terrene second and third respectively.

Overall, the event was a huge success attracting all levels of paddlers. Some even deciding to race in fancy dress.

“It’s been a great fun event, great people to hang out with, it doesn’t matter who they are , they are all pretty good people,” said Greg Hearn, who decided to race in a tutu. “For a weekend away, it’s probably one of the best.” “Pete Cox has done an awesome job,” Iron Mum, and second placed Karla Gilbert said. “It’s probably been the most professional run SUP race that I’ve been to so far, so hat’s off to Pete and the crew, it’s been great.” Peter Antoniou, the director of Virus Actions Sports Performance and major sponsor of the event, said they want to continue the relationship with the event and encourage their international paddlers to compete next year. Rainbow Sandals USA director of marketing Melissa Neo commented “a fantastic event and we cannot wait until next year, being fresh into Australia with our product, and having this opportunity to be involved in such a well organised Stand Up Paddle boarding event was a pleasure.”  Caren Forbes, International Branding Manager for Starboard who is the official Stand Up Paddle Board sponsor commented “it was an opportunity to continue Starboards support of this event into its 03rd year and we were extremely pleased with the results that our team riders came away with and the level of competition at the event.” Congratulations NSW, you now have two SUP weekend events that are attracting over 200 competitors from around the globe. The depth of racing talent on offer and the growth of events clearly shows the strength of the sport in Australia. Pete Cox the event organiser in summing up acknowledged his amazing army of volunteers in the event green shirts that allowed the weekend to be delivered despite this years tough weather conditions , and Pete has already begun planning for a bigger and better event in 2016 as the invitation goes out to all international paddlers to come and be a part of this event to take on the best Australia has to offer in an amazing location.

Until we meet again in March 2016 , may we all enjoy getting our toes wet and paddles in the water .

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