US Surf Ski Champs

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Leaving the hotel at Berkeley dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, we arrived in the Nelo Truck (the biggest car I have ever ben in!) at Fort Baker to fog and wind and freeze! This place… It’s like 4 seasons in one day!

The race organisors had put out a spread of note, coffee, fruit, water and cake. Awesome:) After a comprehensive race briefing everyone got onto the water to warm up.

From the start, we paddled into the wind, but with the current about 6km to a turn can, then back into the current, however the wind seemed to drop. Under Golden Gate bridge again, to the HotSpot near the start, and then on to Angel Island. This section was great, and the runs just got better and better. The run from Angel Island to Berkeley was amazing, dodging sail boats and  surfing runs.

Unfortunately my wrist blew up within the first 10 minutes, and the pain just grew from there. It was excruciating, and I think mentally, this was one of the toughest races I have ever done. Each stroke was like having a knife stabbing into my wrist. The only relief was when I caught a run and could relax. The finish couldn’t have come sooner, and I realised while I was paddling, that there is no way I can continue on my trip. I made the decision that I need to get home and rest my wrist so that it can heal. I can’t explain how disappointed I am. I love Portugal and the next 2 weeks of my trip were going to be amazing. Plus I have 2 titles to defend.

It is what it is I suppose, and I need to focus on the future, and the races that are still coming up.

The organisation and hospitality from the organisors was unbelievable, and this is definitely a race to add to your calendar. Besides the amazing race, there is the city of San Francisco and surrounds. Think: the best sushi ever, loads of touristy things to do and amazing scenery.

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California Dreaming

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Golden Gate Bridge

After many flights, a few delays, and a security frisking from a Fräulein at Frankfurt airport, I arrived in San Francisco. Late, tired, and feeling guilt about making Helen wait for me.  And then a sniffer dog at the airport discovered an apple in my bag… Back into the queue at customs!

There is so much water in this part of the world. I stayed at Carter Johnson’s awesome houseboat in the Sausalito area for the first few days. Carter has to go down as the World’s Best Host. Not only did he move out of his own house so that we could all crash, he even arranged a cool chef called Texan Tom and his wife Sandy to make us unbelievable French Toast for breakfast 🙂

Houseboats of Sausalito

So far the trip has been great, ran up onto Golden Gate Bridge, then paddled underneath it! Serious current that. Did I mention it’s cold? This wind can freeze your bones! We checked out a very cool hippy town called Bolinas, tasted many local beers (the whole microbrewery industry here is massive).

Now I am at race HQ in Berkeley, staying with Michael and Boris from Nelo USA. They have one SERIOUS truck. Will put a photo up soon! Now I am waiting to go to the start at Fort Baker, looking forward to catching some runs.

I picked up some tendonitis in my wrist just before I flew out here, pretty bummed as I have had to sit out on all the paddles. It is still pretty sore, however I have been fortunate enough to see Scott Kelly, physio legend!  So hoping for a miracle here, as have many races and training sessions lined up for this month!

Have to dash, will update after the race!

Team Nelo, me, Michael and Boris

 

Summer in Winter

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It’s that time of year again, when I am fortunate enough to jet across the ocean to some summer weather, and plenty of International racing! Thanks to my sponsors Nelo, I am sitting at George airport, and I am starting to chew my nails, as my first flight is delayed, and I have a connecting flight in Joberg to catch. My eventual destination (for the first part of this trip) is San Francisco, for the US Surf Ski Champs.

Click on the logo to go to the race website:

It’s my first trip to the USA, and I am so excited. The race has, in the past, produced some amazing downwind conditions, and I am frothing to catch some runs, especially after the past few weeks of river racing on the Berg. You also get to paddle past some amazing landmarks, like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge. That’s one way to be a tourist!

Next up is the Nelo Summer Challenge, I won the 10km event last year, and placed 3rd in the “Life Saving” style event. 10km might be a bit short for me, as I really start to enjoy it when it gets tough, but it is a nice change to the usual 2 hour events we do. It is fast, hard and much closer with regards to the racing, so a lot more exciting! Here’s the link to the event website:

Then I travel south to where it’s even warmer for the Portimao race of Champions. I also won the long distance event here last year, and placed 2nd in the short sprint event the day after. This year the course has been shortened, promising full downwind conditions. Here’s the link to the race website:

Yip that’s me on the race website! Cool hey? That funky Nelo Surf Ski got auctioned off after my string of European races last season.

So, 4 weeks away from home, 12 flights in total, 3 countries, and 8 events! Should be awesome! Last year I still had an extra 2 weeks overseas as I had World Marathon Champs in Spain at the end of the trip! One year older, and hopefully a bit wiser, saw me shorten the trip somewhat. I was pretty buggered after that trip last year, and arriving home just in time to race the Fish River Marathon probably was the icing on the cake!

This year everything is a bit more spread out, with the 30th Fish River Marathon only in the 2nd week of October, and Marathon Worlds being a month later than normal, at the end of October.

While I am travelling and racing, our National Sprinters will be trying to qualify for the London Olympics. I am holding thumbs for them! Today actually marks three years since we raced at the Beijing Olympics. Feels more like 10!

Last weekend also saw Hank win the Avon Descent in Perth, and Hilary Pitchford winning the women’s section. Well done you two! A whole bunch of South Africans where at the 75th Sella Descent in Spain, one day I’ll get there….

I had a nice break after the Berg, but recently have been  struggling with a wrist injury. I have been having to improvise a lot in training, but am hoping the break has done me some good.

OK, that’s it for now. Hopefully my plane takes off soon, so there isn’t too much of a mad scramble on the other side!