Clarke eyes up surf ski success

Rachel Clarke Ski.jpeg

 

New Zealand surf ski star Rachel Clarke hopes her eagerly-awaited return to action from injury at the Hong Kong Dragon Run event on Saturday (Nov 10) will act as a springboard to a successful 2019 campaign.


As a two-time winner of the iconic Molokai Challenge, the 2017 World Series champion and a six-time winner of the King and Queen or the Harbour race – the de facto New Zealand Surf Ski Championships – the 28-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore boasts an enviable record.

However, she suffered the first significant blip of her career last July at the Gorge Downwind Champs in Oregon, USA when suffering a 6mm tear of the tendon in her elbow, 10km into the race.

Facing a “frustrating” five-week spell without paddling her return to the surf ski was accelerated by platelet rich plasma technique in which blood is taken out of the arm, put in a spinning machine and injected straight into the tendon.


“I’d never had any problems in my elbows or shoulders before, so it was quite frustrating,” said the gifted paddler. “I’ve slowly build things back up, the elbow seems fine at the moment and I am back in a space where I can go at 100 per cent.”

The Hong Kong event over a distance of 24km kick-starts a busy pre-Christmas period of racing for Rachel, who also plans to compete in the 27km The Doctor event in Perth on November 24 and Sydney’s Shaw & Partners 20 Beaches Ocean Classic race on December 15.

Primarily she hopes to compete without any further issues to her elbow but the Kiwi also has hopes to fulfil some goals.

“I would definitely like to have a good crack at the top of the podium in Hong Kong and also the Australian races too,” she explains. “All are key races with a lot of money on the line, which makes them more attractive to the best of the best from around the world.”

Starting her paddling journey aged 12 as part of the Red Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Rachel was a water sports natural competing for New Zealand in surf lifesaving, swimming to a national standard and also securing national age-group titles in Canoe Sprint.

Yet it was not until she was aged “19 or 20” did she discover her true calling – the sport of surf ski.

“I never really had that top-end speed for canoe sprint but as I am more of an endurance-based athlete, I thought it was quite cool when I started winning ocean paddling races.”

Training out of Takapuna Beach, Rachel, who also works as a special squad constable with the New Zealand Police, set a target in 2014 to compete overseas and on her international debut produced a stunning display to take victory in the iconic 53km Molokai Challenge in Hawaii – regarded by many as the sport’s flagship event.

Since that victory, Rachel, who is coached by South African surf ski guru Lee McGregor, has gone on to enjoy major international success, last year securing four victories in the world series to take the overall title.

Boasting a 100 per cent record in the King and the Queen of the Harbour event in New Zealand with six wins from six races she has also proved domestically invincible

Yet there is one title missing from her CV – the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships – having finished third in Tahiti in 2015 and fifth last year in Hong Kong

“I wanted to finish better than fifth but the top six women all finished within a minute-and-a-half of each other, so it was pretty close racing, she said of her most recent performance in the biennial event. “It was also dead flat in Hong Kong whereas I tend to enjoy the swell and the wind.”

Next year Rachel’s main international goals will be banking her third Molokai title in May and finally landing that so far elusive ICF World title in France in September.

Juggling the demands of shift work and training up to 15 times a week on the water and on land, where she combines running with gym work, is far from easy.

Yet for Rachel it is no huge sacrifice.

“Surf ski is a sport where you meet some pretty awesome people both nationally and internationally , the people you meet are friends for life! And as a bonus, it doesn’t cost a fortune to get into it!” she says. “To be given the chance to travel the world, paddle and enjoy the ocean at the same time is amazing.”

Article by Steve Landells

Photo credit Sam Mayhew


Clarke eyes up surf ski success

New Zealand surf ski star Rachel Clarke hopes her eagerly-awaited return to action from injury at the Hong Kong Dragon Run event on Saturday (Nov 10) will act as a springboard to a successful 2019 campaign.
Rachel Clarke Ski.jpeg

 

New Zealand surf ski star Rachel Clarke hopes her eagerly-awaited return to action from injury at the Hong Kong Dragon Run event on Saturday (Nov 10) will act as a springboard to a successful 2019 campaign.


As a two-time winner of the iconic Molokai Challenge, the 2017 World Series champion and a six-time winner of the King and Queen or the Harbour race – the de facto New Zealand Surf Ski Championships – the 28-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore boasts an enviable record.

However, she suffered the first significant blip of her career last July at the Gorge Downwind Champs in Oregon, USA when suffering a 6mm tear of the tendon in her elbow, 10km into the race.

Facing a “frustrating” five-week spell without paddling her return to the surf ski was accelerated by platelet rich plasma technique in which blood is taken out of the arm, put in a spinning machine and injected straight into the tendon.


“I’d never had any problems in my elbows or shoulders before, so it was quite frustrating,” said the gifted paddler. “I’ve slowly build things back up, the elbow seems fine at the moment and I am back in a space where I can go at 100 per cent.”

The Hong Kong event over a distance of 24km kick-starts a busy pre-Christmas period of racing for Rachel, who also plans to compete in the 27km The Doctor event in Perth on November 24 and Sydney’s Shaw & Partners 20 Beaches Ocean Classic race on December 15.

Primarily she hopes to compete without any further issues to her elbow but the Kiwi also has hopes to fulfil some goals.

“I would definitely like to have a good crack at the top of the podium in Hong Kong and also the Australian races too,” she explains. “All are key races with a lot of money on the line, which makes them more attractive to the best of the best from around the world.”

Starting her paddling journey aged 12 as part of the Red Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Rachel was a water sports natural competing for New Zealand in surf lifesaving, swimming to a national standard and also securing national age-group titles in Canoe Sprint.

Yet it was not until she was aged “19 or 20” did she discover her true calling – the sport of surf ski.

“I never really had that top-end speed for canoe sprint but as I am more of an endurance-based athlete, I thought it was quite cool when I started winning ocean paddling races.”

Training out of Takapuna Beach, Rachel, who also works as a special squad constable with the New Zealand Police, set a target in 2014 to compete overseas and on her international debut produced a stunning display to take victory in the iconic 53km Molokai Challenge in Hawaii – regarded by many as the sport’s flagship event.

Since that victory, Rachel, who is coached by South African surf ski guru Lee McGregor, has gone on to enjoy major international success, last year securing four victories in the world series to take the overall title.

Boasting a 100 per cent record in the King and the Queen of the Harbour event in New Zealand with six wins from six races she has also proved domestically invincible

Yet there is one title missing from her CV – the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships – having finished third in Tahiti in 2015 and fifth last year in Hong Kong

“I wanted to finish better than fifth but the top six women all finished within a minute-and-a-half of each other, so it was pretty close racing, she said of her most recent performance in the biennial event. “It was also dead flat in Hong Kong whereas I tend to enjoy the swell and the wind.”

Next year Rachel’s main international goals will be banking her third Molokai title in May and finally landing that so far elusive ICF World title in France in September.

Juggling the demands of shift work and training up to 15 times a week on the water and on land, where she combines running with gym work, is far from easy.

Yet for Rachel it is no huge sacrifice.

“Surf ski is a sport where you meet some pretty awesome people both nationally and internationally , the people you meet are friends for life! And as a bonus, it doesn’t cost a fortune to get into it!” she says. “To be given the chance to travel the world, paddle and enjoy the ocean at the same time is amazing.”

Article by Steve Landells

Photo credit Sam Mayhew


Clarke eyes up surf ski success
 

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