Dolls Point Delights – Harbour Racing Race 4

A band of volunteers arrived early on Sunday the 7th of August to get the course and event areas set up, oversee parking and general meet and greet duties. Kevin Nettle did a great job packing the cars into the event carpark.

Race Director Mark Sundin worked his magic with this year’s e-briefing:

The sky was blue and clear, the temperature was cool but good for paddling. At the start of the race there was a gentle breeze but the Bay lived up to its reputation for variable conditions. By the time the paddlers were half way across the course, the wind picked up. To the local paddlers it was nothing more than a moderate breeze, but to many in the race it presented excellent conditions to push themselves to handle conditions a little out of their comfort zone. The top turn at the mouth of the Cook’s River featured some good washing machine rebound waves from motorboats, and then side chop all the way down the runway would have given the paddler’s core a good workout. Meanwhile back at the finish line outside the Georges River 16ft Sailing Club, the race officials were commenting that the breeze was just a breeze.

95 paddlers registered for the event (28% of entrants were female)

  • Division 1 – Open Long Course: 54 paddlers (39 single skis, 6 double skis, 1 OC1 and 1 OC2). 27% of the entrants were female
  • Division 2 – Intermediate Long Course: 14 paddlers (12 singles skis and 1 double). 46% of the entrants in this Division were female
  • Division 3 – Short Course: 22 paddlers (20 single skis and 1 double). 36% of the entrants were female
  • Division 4 – SUP Short Course: 4 paddlers. There were no females in this Division

There were 2 juniors – 1 in a single ski (Division 2) the other was as in a double (Division 1).

Race start went smoothly with the 3 waves off and racing on time. Thank you to SSCC Commodore, Gareth Stokes overseeing race start.

The 3 safety boats were kept busy monitoring the paddlers, especially the small number of competitors who were unused to the bumpy and windy conditions around Dolls Point and the airport.

The Sydney CBD, Port Botany and airport backdrop makes this race unique but we had a special surprise for the paddlers. The highlight of the race for some of the short course paddlers was being escorted by a pod of dolphins.

Dolphin escort

Two paddlers deserve a special mention: Julian Glew and Benjamin Hall

Julian Glew from Avoca gave a stand out performance. Julian competed in Under 18 category in Division 2. It was the third time he’d paddled his new ski. He’d never competed in a 14km race and he’s new to harbour racing. This in itself was impressive, but Julian was the fastest paddler in Division 2. He also sent the race officials into a spin when he crossed the finish line with blood all over his face. He had a nose bleed during the race, someone yelled at him to keep going and that’s exactly what he did. This is a paddler to watch.

Benjamin Hall from Sydney Harbour Surf Club paddled in Division 2. By the IRB crew’s reckoning, Ben was coming 2nd when he lost his steering at the back end of the long course near the airport runway. He managed to paddle back across the bay into the wind on his own. He was offered assistance but declined. It took a big effort, but Ben managed to come 3rd in Division 2.

Of the 95 entries, 90 paddlers competed in the race. There was 1 DNF.

  • Div 1 (Long Course) – the overall winner was Ben Constable from Cronulla Sutherland Kayak Club with a time of 01:08:33, the fastest female was Hannah Minogue (01:13:29)
  • Div 2 (Long Course) – the overall winner was Julian Glew from Avoca with a time of 01:28:04, the fastest female was Rozanne Green from Shark Island Paddlers (01:36:32)
  • Div 3 (Short Course) – the overall winners were Justin Lennon / Peter Holz from Newy Paddlers with a time of 00:50:45, the fastest female in a single was Kate Lane from Sydney Harbour Surf Club (01:00:02), the fastest female / male combination was Gonda Kellermann / Charl Kellermann from Five Islands Outrigger Canoe Club (00:56:14)
  • Div 4 (SUP Short Course) – the overall winner was Drew Brown with a time of 01:14:17

The full results can be found at

Thanks to the photographers for the fabulous race photos:

As HR Committee Chair, I took the opportunity to consult with paddlers about the potential change from race stickers to race number cards and holders in 2023. The feedback was very positive. Michael McKeogh from CSKC trialled the use of a number card. In the bumpy conditions, the card didn’t fall off and it was by far the easiest number to see so the timekeepers support the proposal.

Happy volunteers and race officials, happy event.

An unsolicited message from paddler Jaki:

Thanks for the fabulous organising! We had a great race. A gold star to each volunteer!!

A final message from Race Director, Mark Sundin:

“Coming from a background where I was lucky enough to be involved in a couple of extremely successful sporting clubs, I know that what you really hope after the medals and trophies have been handed out, is that years down the track you have made great friends and great memories.

Yesterday’s Dolls Point Classic, run by an army of volunteers of my club mates, lead with great panache by Annette Mathews, just reinforced how good it is when you find yourself part of a community of like-minded peers with a healthy culture.

Hands went in the air when jobs were allocated to do everything from car park attendant, to helping with rego, to organising the myriad hardware to make sure the event ran smoothly, all the way to the hardy crews manning and womanning the safety boats.

It seems to happen with an unerring frequency with the good people from our club, as is their attitude of adventure, challenging and encouraging each other to get better, and celebrating the wins. In fact they seem to find a way to celebrate pretty much anything!

The hundred or so paddlers who enjoyed yesterday’s race had nothing else to worry about other than getting down the course, thanks to the club’s terrific club spirit and generosity. And of course that is reciprocated at the bevvy of events run around the state in marathon and other disciplines where we become the visitors.

The banter and good humour reminds me of my glory days playing team sport in an environment where you play with your mates, and you also play for your mates. It’s a great club to be a part of.

Well done to everyone, competitors and volunteers alike on a successful event.”

As the Race Manager you’re always very happy when an event runs smoothly. The next emotion is exhaustion. But the deflated buoys after the race always makes me a little sad. Until next time ….Saturday 3 September for Race 5, Brisbane Waters Open.

Annette Mathews

2022 Dolls Point Classic Race Manager
Vice President Sutherland Shire Canoe Club

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