Easter weekend in the East Cape involves a lot of paddling. First up is Good Friday, and the Nelson Mandela Surf Ski Classic in Port Elizabeth, which forms part of the Splash Festival. This always promises to be a tough one, as the conditions are generally flat, and there are these tiny little bumps that just beg to be chased, leaving you exhausted to complete the 26km course. With a cold front passing through there just the day before, there was a great left over swell, and Mike Zoetmulder reversed his usual course, allowing us to surf the waves back from the Boiler Reef, which made the race a whole lot more fun! I won my 3rd in a row, and am starting to love my collection of “penguin” trophies. (Will post a photo soon).
After a quick 230km back home to the Land of Milk and Honey I got a great sleep in before the 1pm start of the Pennypinchers Easter Surf Ski Challenge which formed part of the Plett Easter Games, a weekend full of sporting activities, including trail running, mountain biking and more.
Image by Cape Town Sport Photography
Fortunately the river mouth had calmed down by Saturday, and the course involved 4 laps from Central Beach to Lookout, with laps 2-4 going in through the river mouth, around a can and back to Central. Most races these days are lap-style courses, which tend to get pretty boring. The great thing about the Plett course is that there is a bit of everything, surf, small runs, headwind and chop. Enough to keep it interesting and make the 22km feel shorter than it is. On the last lap, just after passing the Blinder rocks, a Mako shark jumped about 50m from us!
Crazy heart rate surge followed, almost like popping one of my PVM Octane Gels that have 100mg caffeine in them! I had a great race, and felt strongest in the middle section, and loved racing all the Plett guys I train with!
As part of MultiCoach, my online training and coaching business, I took local cyclist Erik Klootwyk, and taught him to paddle, as well as squeaking out some fitness training, just enough to get him to complete the 22km course in just over 2h30! An amazing feat, and I am sure he is as stoked as I am. The interesting thing is that he has mentioned how his core strength has increased so much that he is feeling better on the bike now! Bonus! Click on the Zero2Hero logo to find out more.
Sunday morning dawned chilly and crisp, even the Easter Bunny took a while to get moving:) I hopped in a double with local legend Stef le Roux, and the dice was on with other local crews Neal “Steel” Stephenson & Alexis Lyon, and Kyle Harris & Andrew Beverige. Stef had only paddled a few times in the last 6 weeks (including Saturday’s race) so our tactic should have been to take it slow, hold back and conserve ourselves for the home stretch. Unfortunately, Stef is just like me, and we charged off at the front, enjoying the race and vibe way too much for our own good. Halfway out to Robberg Point, a massive Brydes Whale popped up in front of us! A rare and privileged site, and another reason to paddle a ski! Just after that another Mako jumping (wonder if it was the same one from Saturday?)
Around the Point, and on to the Island. It was pretty choppy on the “Wild” side of Robberg, as usual, with lots of rebounds. Once in at the Island, a quick run around the flag and back out to the Point and home! I forget how amazing this paddle is. And that was that, another great weekend in Plett, with way too much chocolate!
Right now a massive storm has hit Plett, the temperature has dropped, and it feels like there is snow on the mountains. My “big mileage” week is losing momentum, I better go get cracking on the ergo instead!
Image by John Hishin-Cape Town Sport Photography