1949 vintage - Ocean ski paddler – Tim Hookins
Photo courtesy of Abbey Digital
In 2012, Tim Hookins set the Vet60 Un1 record. He’s only been getting faster since.
This was before Ocean Racing Skis were recognized as a distinct class.
Tim has paddled, set and held records, landcrewed, and generally been an ardent Classic supporter for eons. He was also Paddle NSW president between xx and xx.
These days, he gets excited by chasing and catching waves on his ski in the ocean. Perhaps he’s one of the hardy bunch of paddlers hoping for wavey conditions on the big open stretches around Bar Point.
This is his story…
Never let that nagging self-doubt limit how far you can go in any pursuit.
When I finally, agonisingly, reached Wisemans Ferry on my first Classic back in 2003, I stopped for a rest and made the unusual decision to have a shower. By the time 10 minutes under the hot water had floated by, my dreams of finishing were in tatters! I never did get myself back into the boat. My wife also had not discovered the widely used technique of forcing her charge back into the boat with some very stern words if necessary.
By the following year I had learnt that the company of good people was a huge advantage in those circumstances and good people with spirit are in plentiful supply both paddling in and volunteering for the Classic.
In a team of three the next year we did the race in Mirage 580s. One of my companions went swimming at 3am, bashed against the hull of a launch with the river current flooding out at about 9 knots near Spencer. We rescued our teammate and soon got under way, though I’m sure he was pretty chilly for a few pitch black kilometres after that.
Meantime my love of Ocean Racing in surf skis had taken hold and I was doing races out in the ocean starting with the “20 Beaches” classic from Palm Beach to Manly.
Back in 2007 there was no category in the Classic for surf skis and very few were entered. The theory was that in an open ski you would freeze to death starting with your legs!
So in 2008 I entered my “Fenn Elite” ocean ski as an unrestricted single craft. I put a little plastic makeshift screen in front of the said at risk legs and survived. Maybe it was a warm year. But this is the interesting thing about challenges. Knowing I could survive a 111km paddle overnight, the next challenge was to do the Molokai Surfski world championship which is a mere 52km, but in a single paddle over the open ocean from one Hawaiian Island to another. Building upon my Classic experience I achieved it and enjoyed the wonderful experience of being out there on the open Pacific Ocean at the age of just under 60.
Since then I have honed my experience as an ocean paddler and have now participated in the Australian Ocean Racing series each year. I have now done “The Doctor,” a premium ocean race of 28km over an open stretch of the Indian Ocean between Rottnest Island and Perth, 8 times. I found that my quickest time was the most recent, done just after my 70th birthday.
I had thought my quickest paddling was years behind me but my recent experience has left me wondering: If I do the Classic one more time, would that not be a great springboard for having another crack at the Surfski World Champs at Molokai? I would then be the oldest paddler to have done it.
As I said earlier, never let yourself be limited by self-doubt.