Ironmen’s star power to clash
Ski events were added to the clash four years ago and the new dimension has given extra spice to an already jam-packed four days of racing, with the presence of household names like Hurst and Poole now sure to draw even more spectators down to the beach.
Not that the distinguished pair will have things all their own way.
There is a vast difference between surf and ocean ski craft.
Surf skis are heavier and shorter; making negotiating waves and turning around buoys easier, while the lighter, longer and sleeker ocean skis are perfect for riding runners downwind.
With events over 3km, 7km and 25km, the ocean skis will certainly have the advantage but with categories for both classes, competition might revert to a duel between the star duo.
Sparring partners in the Nutri-Grain series and current made-for-TV Deep Water show, the pair are always on the lookout to get one-up on each other.
Poole is still recovering from a broken leg - his second in three years - and is still spending extended periods of time in a moon boot.
But last season's Nutri-Grain Ironman series third place-getter is taking every opportunity to work on his upper body and core strength, including racing at the Clash of the Paddles.
Hurst too had health issues last season and has taken some time to regain his strength.
He will use the Clash to continue his build-up to the upcoming series - a series he first participated in as a 15-year-old back in 1996.
Racing at the 2015 Clash starts today, with an intensive camp already underway for ocean ski paddlers under the guidance of renowned paddler Dean Gardiner.
Outrigger crews are already in transit and there are plans in place for a bumper weekend both on and off the water on Hamilton Island.
Entries remain open and local paddlers of all abilities are encouraged to attend, with the opportunity to race alongside Olympian Hurst just one of the great aspects of the weekend's action.
For full details visit http://www.hamiltonisland.com.au/sports-events/clash-of-the-paddles.