The PE2EL Race: Are You Tough Enough?

Toughest surf ski race in the world

Imagine four days of surf ski racing in the open ocean…along one of the most rugged coasts, with sizable surf, in the world.  The Port Elizabeth to East London Challenge (PE 2EL) is a total of  155 miles that spans that section of the coastline of South Africa.  It’s billed as one of the toughest races in the world.  Looking at these waves, from the 2013 race, we can understand why:

Those are people in the lower right hand corner. Compare their size to the size of the waves!


Look how small the ski is!

Here’s how Gavin Dickinson and Rob Mousley described the first day of the 2013 race, which was clearly grueling. From the Surfski.Info website.

The first day of the race is the longest: nearly 75km from Blue Water Bay to the notorious Woody Cape.  Over the years Woody Cape has been the graveyard of many a surfski but the last few events saw small conditions that belied the Cape’s ferocity.  Not this year.

24 skis started with a large ground swell running and a fair SW wind. The Blue Water Bay beach break claimed Justin Swaart and Marcell Basson’s rudder and they set off in a borrowed ski.

The paddlers were briefed that the Woody Cape was recording 5m swells – little did they know that for once the web sites were under reading the swell size. 

Woody Cape was utterly insane.

15 – 20ft sets were rolling in as the paddlers were coming home.

Race leader Bevan Manson was first in avoiding two massive waves and making it to the shore break. What followed was carnage.

Eight skis were broken, some utterly disintegrated to nothing – leaving paddlers with 30min swims against the rip current.

So, next time someone you know complains about race conditions, tell them about this race!

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