"The Doctor" - Rottnest Crossing in WA
EASTAUGH, GRAY SET FOR ROTTNEST CROSSING
Western Australian big wave surfers Damon Eastaugh and Courtenay Gray will turn their attention to stand up surfboard paddling next week when the planet's best take their shot at World Cup glory in the richest ocean paddling race in Australia on January 17.
With more than $30,000 on offer 'The Doctor', as the 23 kilometre marathon downwind paddle from Rottnest Island to the Scarborough Beach Auditorium is known, will see paddlers from all over the world converge on the Western Australian capital to compete against Eastaugh and Gray on the stand up boards or in the surf ski and outrigger canoes categories.
Eastaugh and Gray have cult followings in the surfing industry with Eastough being a former winner of the Australian Oakley Big Wave contest. In the surf ski event, WA's Olympic kayak hopeful Reece Baker will be on home waters against the country's best open water paddlers including Tim Jacobs, Murray Stewart, Jeremy Cotter and Caine Eckstein.
Australia's elite will shape against a host of international stars including legendary South African and reigning World Series champion Oscar Chalupsky, fellow leading South Africans Dawid Mocke and Hank McGregor, the 2008 champion from the famous Molokai to Oahu race, Tahitian Lewis Laughlin and paddlers from New Zealand, Hawaii, Asia and Europe.
The event, the brainchild of Perth born nine-time Molokai to Oahu winner Dean Gardiner and fellow WA paddling icon Ash Nesbitt, is one of only four 4star events in the surf ski world series. The outrigger canoe field will be headed by world number one Hawaiian Karel Tresnak.
Gardiner has been at the top of ocean paddling both as a competitor and a race promoter and organiser for almost two decades and the veteran believes 'The Doctor', now in its fifth year, is the world's best pure downwind race.
"This event has developed into the most competitive and coveted downwind race on the international ocean paddling calendar," Gardiner said. "The fact it is a crossing, from Rottnest to the mainland, with just the paddlers and the open ocean makes it such a pure test of the paddler and the elements.
"We have the best paddlers in the world coming to Western Australia's summer playground and I know from talking to the overseas guys they are looking forward to taking on Australia's best.
"It's great that we have added the standup paddling event this year too and have confirmation that both Damon and Courtenay will compete because they are huge names in their sports.
"Standup paddling is growing everyday and these guys are trailblazers in what could become the premier standup paddling event in the world."
The event will be followed up by a 15km two person team relay from Fremantle to City Beach the next day, Sunday January 18. Both races are not just for the elite either with the event open to paddlers of all levels.
Entries and event information can be found at http://www.oceanpaddler.com/.
For all media enquiries please contact David Lyall or Jason Allan @ GSI Communications: 02 9976 0844.