It’s not every day that a father and son are crowned national champions simultaneously. Mount Edgecombe resident Herman and his 83-year-old Umhlanga father Paul Chalupsky were recently named national surf ski champions in their respective age groups, qualifying for the surf ski world champs set to take place in Spain this month.
The Chalupskys are a remarkable family and certainly no strangers to the surf ski world. Paul was the very first Springbok team captain in the early 1960’s and has been the SA canoeing champion on numerous occasions over the years in all three disciplines – marathon, sprint and downriver paddling.
Herman followed suit, getting Springbok colours for canoeing, surf lifesaving, surf ski paddling and was a junior water polo Springbok. His brother Oscar is also one of the top surf ski paddlers in the world.
In their most recent challenge, Paul and Herman took on the 28 km paddle in a 10-knot easterly wind, which, apparently, was a breeze for the duo! “The stronger the wind the better we go. I just love the excitement of paddling with a big swell sometimes 3km out to sea. Then it’s just you and the vast ocean,” says Herman, who finished in the top 20 overall on the day.
Paul (who still trains in the open ocean on most mornings at the age of 83!) lives in the Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate where he and Herman do a lot of training in the dam. They have even initiated an ‘informal dice’ once a week, where paddlers of all strengths come and train.
“We are really lucky to have such great facilities on our doorstep to help with training. Pani Dam is the ideal paddling venue as it is just down the road. I also run on the golf course, but not too often as my legs are made for paddling,” laughs Herman.
Asked what their top paddling highlights over the years are, Herman says, “we both won the Berg River marathon in the Cape (about 20 years apart) and my father and his partner won the Sella marathon in Spain, which is the biggest, most prestigious canoe race in the world. Twenty years later my brother Oscar and I won the race as well.”
It is clear that Paul has inspired his sons to strive towards greatness and to continue training hard throughout their lives. And, of course, to make sure they are having fun while they are doing it.