Stars shine in the sun at successful LifeFlight Ocean Paddle

Karl Stefanovic teamed up with LifeFlight Ocean Paddle race guide Grant Kenny in the doubles, coming third in their division, despite Karl confessing he hadn’t had much time to prepare.

“I have not done any endurance or paddling. I haven’t been able to do any training,’’ he told media covering the event.

“This is a great cause, so I wanted to do my bit.”

The LifeFlight Ocean Paddle is part of the Australian Ocean Racing Series. Proceeds from the Sunshine Coast event help keep the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters flying.

“Having these elite athletes competing in our event and helping us raise money for the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service is incredible.  Our choppers provide a vital service for the community,” said race organiser LifeFlight’s Mandy Hentschel.

The 17 kilometre event showcased the sporting prowess of some of the world’s best ocean paddlers.

2017 ICF Ocean Paddling World Champion Cory Hill took out top honours, with Tom Norton in second place and 2015 under-23 World Champion Mackenzie Hynard a close third.

“It was really tough out there today, I had a really big battle with Tommy Norton. He gave it to me for the first eight kilometres and then I was able to get a little bit of a lead and consolidate on that,” said Cory Hill.

If dedicating their days to providing urgent aeromedical care and performing rescues isn’t enough, LifeFlight aircrew also took on the surf ski challenge.

Just over a week ago,  Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Aircrew Officer John Kennedy was winched to the rescue of a kayaker, who had capsized and was floating alone for hours, off Fraser Island.

Yesterday, he and LifeFlight Training Academy’s Jerry Ovens completed the paddle, both putting in respectable performances against a tough field of athletes and amateurs.

The 2018 LifeFlight Ocean Paddle organisers also thanked sponsors Shaw and Partners and local Sunshine Coast business Rockwell, for their support.