By Joe Glickman
Standing next to his ski waist deep in the water, Oscar Chalupsky eyed the flat sea as he waited for the gun on the second day of the two-day World Cup in Perth. Having won the first day, his challenge was simple: win again and the overall title was his. But with the winner of the second day awarded twice as many points as the winner of the first, if he finished behind Daryl Bartho, brother Herman, or Aussie Ash Nesbit he could fall out of the top three.
Given the flat water in the lee of Rottnest Island, a resort 30 kilometers off the coast of Perth, speed-burners like Bartho, a former member of the Springbok National Sprint Team, Olympian Mike Walker of New Zealand, National Marathon Team member Nesbit, and Sydney Ironman star Dave Kissane, hammered off the line as if it was the start of a 1000-meter final.
Roughly one kilometer into the race, Chalupsky worked his way through the pack and pulled even with Bartho, whom he’d edged out the day before by just 10 seconds. Third the day before, Herman Chalupsky, who loves to paddle off the front, took off with a tight chase pack just behind. Oscar ignored them, dutifully following the directional arrow of his Garmin 305 GPS like a blind man his guide dog.
When his GPS told him he had six minutes to the finish, Chalupsky went flat out, paddling in anger up and over runs, leaving Bartho half a dozen boat-lengths back.
Too old, too fat, not fit enough and only potent in big downwind conditions – that’s the wrap on the 11-time Molokai Champion. In fact, it’s not far from the truth much of the year – until the 43-year-old, (sometimes) doughy 115 kg father of two with full-time business commitments and profound love of liquid carbohydrates begins serious training for the race he values most – the unofficial World Surf Champ staged in Hawaii each May. Roughly two months ago, however, Chalupsky set his sights on the World Cup in Perth. Despite a three-week stint at his boat factory in China, Chalupsky trained diligently, twice a day, imaging the scene unfolding exactly as it was.
Out to sea, the wind picked up to 12 knots and the man who considers himself “the master of the runs” edged slightly ahead of the 29-year-old Bartho in the one-meter high bumps. Paddling without a GPS, Bartho asked Oscar more than a few times if he was sure they were on the best line. Chapulsky, however, trains daily with his Garmin, felt sure Herman had gone too far north, and, eyes glued to his trusty training tool, powered on with Bartho by his side.
Despite his legendary (some would say insane) confidence, Oscar knew Bartho possessed superior flat-water speed and felt it essential to open a sizeable lead before reaching the harbour in Hillary. Two kilometers from the harbour wall, Chalupsky put the hammer down.
“Daryl’s young and strong and was matching me run for run all the way across,” Oscar said. “I didn’t know how much he had left.”
When his GPS told him he had six minutes to the finish, Chalupsky went flat out, paddling in anger up and over runs, leaving Bartho half a dozen boat-lengths back. On the glassy flat water inside the harbour over the last kilometer, Oscar put his head down and never looked back until he leapt out of his Epic ski to the short run up to the beach.
Bartho followed 10 seconds later. Nesbit and Herman Chalupsky overtook Aussie dark horse Dean Beaman inside the harbour and finished a minute and a half behind Bartho. Durbanite Barry Lewin and Dave Kissane rounded out the top seven. (Dean Gardiner, the nine-time Molokai Champ who finished seventh the day before, did not start.)
Afterwards, Chalupsky talked about how hard he’d trained and “the sweet taste of victory.” After two decades of winning ski races around the world, this back-to-back win seemed especially satisfying to the self-proclaimed world’s best ski paddler. He’d been dismissed, yet again, as past his prime and too reliant on a big sea. But the conditions had been tame and the competition anything but, yet he prevailed. As he gets older and paddlers get faster, each hard-won victory is increasingly precious.
- Day Two Results:
- 1.45.52 Oscar Chalupsky RSA
- 1.46.02 Daryl Bartho RSA
- 1.47.35 Ash Nesbit AUS
- 1. 47.38 Herman Chalupsky RSA
- 1.47.56 Dean Beaman AUS
- 1.48.06 Barry Lewin RSA
- 1.48.11 Dave Kissane AUS
- 1.48. 14 Mike Walker NZ
- 1.50.11 Matt Rees AUS
- 1.51 57 Tim Altman AUS
- Oscar Chalupsky RSA
- Daryl Bartho RSA
- Ash Nesbit AUS
- Herman Chalupsky RSA
- Barry Lewin RSA
- Overall Results: