It’s difficult to articulate the impact that Joe Glickman had on the global surfski family.

He wasn’t a World Champion or a Molokai Challenge winner.

And he never stood on the top of an international downwind podium.

Yet his name is one of the sport’s most recognisable and his contribution undoubtedly one of the most profound.

Joe Glickman was an American paddler, passionate beyond description – and he was talented too.

A United States marathon kayak representative, his deep respect and admiration for the ocean saw him thrive in the surfski.

But it was off the water where he resonated the most.

A writer and journalist, he found words where others couldn’t, bringing new life to the emotions and sensations that we all share out on the water.

His writing and video production heralded a new standard of professionalism in surfski paddling.

Even by today’s standards, the quality of his work is still ground-breaking – like this piece on the 2012 US Surfski Championships in San Francisco.

Yet for those who crossed his path, his greatest legacy lies in his friendship.

He was one of those paddlers who just connected with everyone he met.

 “Joe was just so enthusiastic,” Bruce Seymour, race director of the Hong Kong Dragon Run, says. “It was infectious.”

“He was at all of the races and he’d take part and do really well, but he also interviewed everyone and wrote a lot and really move the sport forward.

“He was a big part of surfski padding and a lot of its biggest races.”

It’s not out of place to connect the success that the sport enjoys today to his work that stretches back for two decades.

But sadly, he isn’t here to see it.

After a brave battle with pancreatic cancer, Joe Glickman passed away in 2015.

‘Gone, but not forgotten’ is a cliched line, but it’s one that rings true for Bruce Seymour.

For the past few years, he’s been contemplating how best to honour Glickman’s legacy.

And after endless dialogue, deliberation and planning, he’s now arrived at an answer.

The Joe Glickman Award.

“I was just thinking that this sport of ours, of which so many of us are so passionate about, has no recognition besides winning races,” he explains.

“There are so many people who have put so much into the sport and contributed in so many different ways.

“Cricket has cricketer or the year, rugby has rugby player of the year… but we have nothing. 

“I thought it would be nice to recognise those contributions that have made surfski paddling what it is today.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

Seymour believes this new award represents the qualities that made Joe so endeared right around the world.

“It’s a combination of commitment, dedication, respect and so many other things that are the cornerstones of our community,” he says.

Each year, the Joe Glickman award will recognise a paddler who embodies that.

Given the spirit of surfski paddling itself, it won’t make for any easy decisions.

So, Seymour has enlisted a who’s who of paddling to help.

Oscar Chalupsky, Dean Gardiner, Dawid Mocke, Michele Eray and Jim Hoffman will all act as panel members to judge the prize.

The winner will receive the perpetual trophy that’s emblazoned with a passage – written by Joe himself – selected by his daughter Willa and wife Beth:

Remember that feeling as a kid when you got close to the beach and the solid ground of every day turned into soft sand?


Your heart would quicken and you would pull your parents’ hand like a restrained dog desperate to break free.
I still feel that pull.
When I paddle off and leave the land behind, heading out to an island or lighthouse or with no destination in mind, I feel instant peace and constant challenge.

“I thought it would be a nice touch,” Seymour says.

“It makes it more personal than simply a piece of metal or glass with his name on it.

“It means something – it’s not just an award, it’s carried by his words.

“His mind is imprinted on it.”

The recipient of the inaugural Joe Glickman Award will be announced sometime in July.