Last week, Shaw and Partners was thrilled to partner with VÖOST Vitamins and Oceanpaddler to present the VÖOST Shaw and Partners Forster Race Week, being rounds two and three of the Shaw and Partners Australian Ocean Racing Series (AORS). The AORS is a national ocean racing series attracting competitors across a number of ocean racing disciplines including Ocean skis, Surf skis, Stand Up Paddleboards, Prone Paddleboards and Outrigger Canoes.

Off the back of the hugely successful Shaw and Partners WA Race Week, which takes place in November each year, race series owner and organiser Dean Gardiner scouted the NSW Coast to find a suitable location to host a similar event on the East Coast of Australia. Thanks to headline sponsors VÖOST and Shaw and Partners Financial Services, a $40,000 prize pool was put on offer and the VÖOST Shaw and Partners Forster Race Week was born. Series organisers are confident that the VÖOST Shaw and Partners Forster Race Week will follow in the steps of the successful Shaw and Partners WA Race Week in years to come, sparking yet another exciting growth journey for keen ocean paddlers as the sport continues to gain significant momentum.

The inaugural VÖOST Shaw and Partners Forster Race Week held from Thursday 13 May – Saturday 15 May 2021 saw just under 200 paddlers flock to Forster from all over Australia. Highlights of the three-day festivities included complimentary training clinics with the ocean’s elite athletes, a three-course dinner presented by Shaw and Partners, whereby the $25 paid by guests to attend the evening was all donated to Gotcha4Life https://www.gotcha4life.org/about-gotcha4life, the Shaw and Partners Nine Mile Cup, a 13km race from Forster Beach to Blackhead, and the VÖOST Forster Ocean Classic, a gruelling 20km race from Elizabeth Beach to Forster Beach.

Paddling power couple Tom Norton and Georgia Laird claimed thrilling victories in the Shaw and Partners Nine Mile opening race, which doubled as the second round of the Australian Ocean Racing Series. Norton went toe-to-toe with two-time ICF World Champion and Shaw and Partners Race Team member Cory Hill in an incredibly tight battle, only gaining the upper hand in the final moments. The pair were drag-racing around the last rocky point, when Hill pushed slightly wider to give Norton room, in the process slewing his ski and allowing Norton to claim the victory. Norton took the win in a time of 52 minutes and 27 seconds, just 13 seconds ahead of Hill (52:40), while Shaw and Partners Race Team member Michael Booth stepped back onto the podium finishing a further 33 seconds behind (53:13). Mackenzie Hynard claimed fourth (53:40) while Gold Coast ironman Taddy McDonnell rounded out the top five (53:55).

In the women’s race, Georgia Laird crossed the line in 58 minutes and 26 seconds, 16 seconds ahead of current ICF World Champion and Shaw and Partners Race Team member Danielle McKenzie (58:42) who was just 6 seconds ahead of fellow Shaw and Partners Race Team member Jordan Mercer (58:48). Jemma Smith (59:49) finished in fourth, while Hannah Sculley (1:00:44) finished in fifth place.

Powerful offshore winds on Saturday created racing conditions described as some of the most challenging seen in years. It was another tight battle across the 20km VÖOST Forster Ocean Classic course, which saw Tom Norton and Shaw and Partners Race Team member Cory Hill in another neck-and-neck battle. Norton claimed victory over Hill, with Shaw and Partners Race Team member Michael Booth claiming third place, ensuring the same podium as the day prior. Mackenzie Hynard finished with another fourth-place, with Greg Tobin in fifth.

The calibre of racing in the female division was also outstanding with surf ironwoman Jemma Smith turning the tables on Shaw and Partners Race Team member and World Champion Danielle McKenzie and AORS round two winner, Georgia Laird. Shaw and Partners Race Team member Jordan Mercer finished fourth, with Montannah Murray rounding out the top five. It’s another spectacular result for Smith, after claiming the Open Women’s ski title at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships last month. This week she is competing at the National Sprint Kayaking Championships, arguably in the best form of her career.

Shaw and Partners extends a huge congratulations to all competing athletes and looks forward to the inaugural Shaw and Partners Hells Gate 38, being round four of the Australian Ocean Racing Series in Noosa, QLD taking place on Saturday 17 July 2021. For more information on the Shaw and Partners Hells Gate 38 please visit https://www.hellsgates38.com.au/ – entries are open now!