The Joe Glickman Award is back for 2021 – and this time, organisers want your help to decide it.

The concept was created last year to acknowledge those who work tirelessly within our sport, often out of sight, while also honouring one of surfski paddling’s greatest advocates.

“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,” committee chair Bruce Seymour explained.

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

“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

Oscar Chalupsky was named the inaugural recipient of the Joe Glickman Award for his tireless advocacy of surfski paddling around the globe.

A larger-than-life character, it was clear how much this recognition meant to the 12-time Molokai Champion, who was told of his win in an emotional video presentation.

That award was decided by a judging panel of four influential surfski figures, made up of Dean Gardiner, Dawid Mocke, Michele Eray and Jim Hoffman.

This year the panel – which now includes Chalupsky – has settled on three finalists, with the winner to instead be decided by a public vote.

The finalists for the 2021 Joe Glickman Award are:

  • Dean Gardiner

  • Billy Harker

  • Greg Kitto

Below is a short background on each of the nominees. At the bottom of the page is the poll to cast your vote.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler


The Australian is one of the most accomplished, recognisable and influential surfski paddlers in the world.

As an athlete, his list of race victories reads like a surfski encyclopedia.

Gardiner is a nine-time Molokai Champion, a number only bested by his long-time sparring partner and close friend Oscar Chalupsky.

He’s won Australia’s biggest races – The Doctor and 20 Beaches – to go with major titles from all corners of the globe: San Francisco, Tahiti and even the first World Championship exhibition event in Cape Town in 2004, over a field regarded as one of the most competitive ever assembled.

He’s claimed Australian and World titles in surf lifesaving, while he’s also the only person to have won Molokai’s surfski and outrigger races in the same year.

But it’s as a race organiser where Gardiner has had the biggest impact – Dean is the godfather of downwind racing in Australia.

He created the Australian Ocean Racing Series in 2002, which has now become the richest event in the world – and it continues to grow each year.

“My reasons for starting the series were simple,” he says.

“I knew that all the things that I hated about existing races would stay the same and the profile of the sport would stay the same unless someone made a commitment to growing it and making it better.

“I believe we have achieved that here in Australia and this has set the bar for races globally.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler


Billy Harker can lay claim to pioneering surfski racing as we know it.

A passionate paddler, in 1998 he launched a series of races in Cape Town that would drive the sport’s popularity to new heights. A number of races were already established at the time, both in Cape Town and in Durban, but Harker attracted a level on sponsorship that, previously, was unseen.

Harker ran 25 races over those first six months – all on different courses – and the positive response led him to quit his job in early 1999 and invest his time solely on his series.

It produced immediate results.

Men’s Health had joined as the naming right’s sponsor, while several large businesses committed to the sport – despite many having next to no knowledge of the sport.

“It was a properly hard sell because I would have to spend the first 20 minutes trying to explain what a surfski was,” Harker recalls.

“The only people who knew what a surfski was were in the lifesaving movement, or who knew Oscar Chalupsky and that he paddled such a thing at the Molokai.”

From the year 2000 to 2013, Harker organised 35 races a year, in what became a golden period for the nation’s downwind paddling.

More than 50 highlights programs were broadcast on national television. ‘’ became the world’s first surfski dedicated website. And a new entry record was reached, when 525 paddlers competed in the New Balance Season Starter Grading event.

Harker went on to play a crucial role in organising the first ever ICF World Championships in 2013 and is still involved in South African racing today.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler


Greg Kitto has been a mainstay at surfski’s biggest races for the past two decades – but he isn’t an athlete, and he isn’t a race organiser.

Instead, he’s the man who has helped bring surfski racing to screens right around the world.

A surf lifesaver himself, Greg discovered a passion for media while filming a surfski-and-swimming relay from Cape Town to Durban in 2001. It was an eventful trip that encountered plenty of hurdles, but that group, featuring Dawid Mocke, was successful and the documentary was made.

As Greg puts it, he “was hooked.”

“Having seen the evolution of the sport and craft, from a rescue vehicle in the 80’s to a long-distance racing craft, there was an understanding of what the sport was all about,” he says. “And it was the people in the sport.”

“The people drove its development, the people were its heart and they kept the blood pumping through the sport.”

Since then, Greg has filmed every major event on the calendar – Molokai, The Doctor, Dubai Shamaal, Hong Kong, The Gorge, Tahiti and many, many more – and he’s captured all of the big moments.

Under his production house White Hot Media, Greg has created more than 100 television shows, countless more videos and even event live-streams.

Greg’s work goes far beyond simply filming races – he prides himself on telling a story.

It’s a quality that embodies the spirit of surfski.

“The goal was to take something I loved, ocean racing, and make it a part of my life.” He says.

“Use what I know and take it to the world.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

These three are all deeply deserving winners who have shaped our sport for the better.

But there can only be one winner.

*To cast your vote in the 2021 Joe Glickman Award, click here.*

Voting will close at 4pm AEST (GMT+10) on Monday October 11, with the winner to be announced on The Paddler shortly after.