NEW COURSE AND DATE FOR 2023 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 2023 Ocean Racing World Championships will be held in Perth a week after the Shaw and Partners WA Race Week, ending any hope that the two events would be combined.
Australia’s ICF-affiliated body Paddle Australia, local surfski organisation Indian Ocean Paddlers and Dean Gardiner’s Oceanpaddler, which runs the WA Race Week, had been exploring the possibility of the World Championships being contested in place of the West Coast Downwind.
Stakeholders held a sit-down meeting at last month’s WA Race Week, but The Paddler understands the groups were unable to come to an agreement and have now walked away from the idea.
Instead, Paddle Australia will engage an independent event manager to run the World Championships, which will be held between November 30 and December 3.
“There are certain things the ICF won’t budge on, and there are certain things Dean [Gardiner] won’t budge on,” a source aware of the discussions told The Paddler.
“There’s common ground, but not enough for us to have the World Championships as part of the WA Race Week. It’s a shame, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.”
One of the sticking points was the requirement that all competitors at the World Championships be financial members of their national body.
Paddle Australia is essentially absent from ocean paddling in Australia, meaning the vast majority of downwind athletes hold no affiliation to it.
There were also several commercial and ideological differences among the groups that led to discussions coming to an end – however it did so respectfully and without any ill feeling.
That sentiment may not be shared by athletes, however.
The Shaw and Partners WA Race Week will begin on November 18 next year, ending with the Doctor on November 25.
Given the World Championships window closes on December 3, it means paddlers wanting to contest both events will need to be in Perth for at least 17 days.
Realistically, that figure is more likely to be 19 days, bearing a considerable expense.
Paddle Australia is now pushing ahead with planning for the event.
A provisional course has been set from Bathers Beach, on the southern side of Port Fremantle, to Scarborough Beach.
The distance is roughly 20 kilometres and would allow a more direct line with ‘The Doctor’ wind.
This finish location would also allow Paddle Australia the opportunity to explore a commercial partnerships with both Fremantle and City of Stirling councils.
An official announcement from the ICF about the 2023 World Championships is expected to be made in the coming days.