Dubbed the grandfather of ocean paddle races, the 19th annual Molokai Challenge is taking place this year (2013) on May the 19th in Hawaii. 50 year old Oscar Chalupsky from Durban in South Africa has registered for the event for the 19th time since he first paddled the grueling distance in the early eighties when he was twenty years old. Chalupsky has won the illustrious ski surf title 13 out of the 18 times he has already taken part in the challenge and is set on making it his 19th conquest this year. Despite his age being comparatively higher than the majority of competitors in the international ski surfing race, Oscar Chalupsky more than makes up for it in physical fitness, experience and absolute resolve.
In recent medical tests conducted by the South African Springbok's doctor, Craig Roberts, it was revealed that Chalupsky's fitness level is no less than phenomenal. After completing the test that entailed a rigorous session on a kayak ergometer and subsequent VO2 measurements, the athlete returned a score of 84%. On average, a top Olympic athlete in their prime would attain scores of between 70% and 90%. Typically, athletes of this calibre are between 20 and 30 years of age, a far cry from the 50 years Chalupsky has notched. Roberts stated that he had never seen such exceptional results from an athlete of that age.
What is Surf Ski?
A surf ski is a sea kayak used as a lifesaving rescue vehicle and for racing. It is longer and narrower than the typical sea kayaks that are designed for touring and has a cockpit and a rudder that is controlled by being foot pedaled. The narrowness ensures that experienced paddlers are able to effectively cut through the waves of big surf. Used by surf lifesavers, the surf ski is capable of achieving extremely fast speeds and has thus become popular as a sea vehicle used for downwind ocean racing, predominately in the warmer waters of South Africa, Australia, California and Hawaii. As contact with the water on this craft is inevitable, paddlers in colder areas have to wear wet-suits to ensure comfort. Extreme fitness and skill is required to manoeuvre the surf ski from wave to wave and to use the energy of the swell as propellant. In complete contradiction to touring with a kayak, the ideal conditions for this sport is strong winds and 6 foot swells. Not for the faint-hearted!
Proudly South African
Richmark Holdings and the company's sport-loving executive chairman Gavin Varejes have a long-standing reputation for backing South African businesses and sports people to attain ultimate achievement. To Richmark Holdings, sporting and economic greatness of the country is of utmost importance and it quite literally puts its money where its mouth is time and time again. Varejes is particularly involved with sponsoring of the surf ski champ as the pair go way back to when both were part of the Durban Lifesaving Club in the early seventies. Varejes believes that Oscar Chalupsky is the greatest ocean paddler the world has seen and says that the company feels both, proud and privileged to be of support to Chalupsky.
Gavin Varejes is the CEO of Richmark Holdings LTD and the President of SARLA (South African Rugby Legends association)