The world's longest and toughest surf ski marathon, the Southern Shamaal PE to East London Surf Ski Challenge, started at Bluewater Bay at 5am on a Thursday morning in December. 39 singles and 44 doubles combinations set off on the first of four gruelling stages and 250km of ocean paddling. SAOPA's Stanford Slabbert, an amputee, was one of them! The local Bluewater Canoe Club masters (over 50) combination of Markus Burri and Stanford had a scare off St Croix island on the return leg of the first day, when a large shark breached alongside their double ski, spraying them with water.

During the 75km third stage the Hamburg point break caught Burri and Slabbert off-side with a spectacular wipe-out and a long swim. Fortunately their double emerged unscathed, and they completed the stage. Plett's shark attack survivor, amputee Neal Stephenson, placed fifteenth (21:14:27) out of the 33 singles finishers. Markus and Stanford placed sixteenth overall (19:50:37) missing third place in the veterans category by just 24 seconds. They were the highest placed masters team and it was their third fi nish as a combination. This was Stanfords tenth successful finish, having completed his first challenge as a junior in 1977. He has started on 13 occasions.

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