Some of the world’s fastest paddlers are in Perth this weekend for the Fenn Nelo Doctor as the 27.5km dash from Rottnest to Sorrento cements its spot on the international paddling circuit.
Competitors are tipped to hit high speeds during today’s crossing.
The race, which includes competitors on surf skis, ocean skis, outrigger canoes and stand-up paddle boards, has come a long way since it was first held in 2002.
More than 400 starters are expected to catch the ferry to Rottnest to compete in what organisers are expecting to be ideal conditions.
This year, racers have come from as far as Germany, South Africa and the US and include last year’s winner Tim Jacobs and race favourites Hank McGregor, Jasper Mocke, Bruce Taylor and Jeremy Cotter.
Olympic gold medallists Murray Stewart and Ken Wallace will also compete.
The race leaders complete the course in about an hour and a half, while others take more than four hours. There is $20,000 in prize money at stake.
Race organiser Dean Gardiner said the race had grown every year in numbers and the level of competition.
“It is always the first big race of the year,” South African Mocke, who is competing in his fifth Fenn Nelo Doctor, said.
“The quality and depth of the field is so good, it’s an honour to win here.”
Cotter, who has finished second in the race twice before, said a channel crossing was unique because most races were up and down the coast.