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!

2010 over and out

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Did you feel it?

2010 was one jam-packed year! It always seems like the more busy you are, the longer the year. 2010 was one pretty long year! Add to that the fact that time flies as you get older and I am left with one long, fast year:)

It was my 2nd year “post-Olympics”, and another chance to race as much as I could. I also took on a coaching job in Port Elizabeth which let me get to meet a whole bunch of new, excited-to-paddle people. I have much to be grateful for, and here is just a short highlights package of my year…

1. Moved cities. Not sure whether to put this in the “lowlights” section! PE is a very different place, you either love it or hate it. Luckily, the people there are super friendly and nice. Moved back to the Land of Milk and Honey-Plett:)

2. Spent a lot of time in East London, which could be the jewel of South Africa, but shhh! Let’s not let that secret get out. Beautiful coastline, and great people.

3. Became the owner of Splash, the Staffie puppy on one of my coaching trips to East London. A total handful, but worth every vet bill and ripped up piece of furniture. I have been on more beach walks than ever before, and he is a great running partner, and forever happy and forgiving companion.

4. On the sponsorship front, I was fortunate enough to become a part of Team Nelo, and the move has been the best thing. I am loving paddling my NeloSki so much, that the majority of my training is now done in the ski rather than the K1. I have also managed to sign on for 2011 with all my current sponsors. Thanks for your ongoing support PVM, Knysna Racing, New Balance! and Rudy Project (and all your support and generosity Thule).

5. I got to go to Portugal (and Spain and Dubai) and spent a few weeks in that great country, and do some pretty cool new races.

6. I won my 3rd Dubai Shamaal, 3rd Cape Point Challenge and my 3rd SA Surf Ski Title.

7. I FINALLY won the Fish River Marathon!

8. I had 2 very solid performances at the Marathon World Champs (Flatwater), coming 4th in the K1 and the K2, which makes me fired up for the 2011 Worlds in Singapore! Time to change those Wooden medals into real ones!

9. My parents came and watched some international Surf Ski events! Great to have their support.

10. Last but not least, the Soccer World Cup. What an event, and what a success for South Africa as a nation!

The year is over and I am still so stoked on paddling. Here’s hoping you all have a great 2011!

Here is a great slideshow of some photo highlights for 2010:

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Banyoles

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After a very cool time in Ibiza and Formentera, I flew to Barcelona and  hired a car. My day got made when the rental guy said “It’s a Mini-Cooper”!! Yes please:)

Lost the map the rental guy gave me, but made it ok anyway. Went straight to the Lake, which is where they held the canoeing and kayaking events for the Barcelona Olympics. I found Albert, the local legend, who is paddling K2 for Spain, and he hooked me up with a Youth Hostel.

After a good rest (missed out on that these past few days) I headed out on my brand new Nelo (cool Green colour-thanks Andre). It has been 3 weeks since I last sat in a K1 and the adjustment took a while…  I found my flatwater legs soon enough, now t is time to work on some speed.

Unfortunately I picked up a bug, but have been taking antibiotics ad am now feeling a bit better. Had to take the Mini back (my heart was broken). Mark Bosch arrived on Thursday, and it was good to have a training partner. The whole SA team arrived on Saturday.

The weather has turned for the worse now though, from 35 degrees to constant rain, but at least it’s still warm. There are just a hell of a lot of flies…

Been touring around a bit, went to Girona, and Olot. Very cool old towns, pretty romantic.

That little dot is me:) In Girona

Still 4 sleeps until my race. Hope it comes fast as I have had enough of this spot now… My speed has got better in the boat and I am now ready to race. After a month of racing my ski in Europe, the best I can hope for is just to survive:)

The Legends: Roelof and Andre

Here is the race website for more info: www.banyoles2010.com

Formentera Race

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After our epic car journey with Rui (a man of great patience), we boarded the ferry to Formentera. Rui put his whole van plus trailer on board, and we were off.

We arrived to one of the most beautiful spots! I can’t belive I went to an island to do a surf ski race (well, an island next to Ibiza). It was an amazing experience, and I don’t think I would have ever visited this place otherwise. It is known as the hippy island, and apparently Bob Marley played in one of the caves years back.

We wasted no time, and had a swim in the unbelievably blue water. Not too many fish, but great anyway!

I totally got into the Spanish island vibe, we went to bed late, woke up late, had siesta’s, paddled in bikini’s (not the boys), drank Pinto De Verano (which is red wine mixed with lemon juice and loads of ice) and ate lots of tapas.

The Race: (was hacking with the camera-first left it in Rui’s car, then battery died, then camera died on an underwater experience, so no photo’s, waiting for the other’s)

I had a terrible start, was lying about 20th. I managed to sneak some rebounds and work my way up to 10th, and then on the downwind bit, I caught up a few places into 6th overall and first woman). There were 2 laps of this headwind-downwind course, and the 2nd lap turned out to be a bit harder as the wind died. All in all a good event, with a prize giving dinner thrown in too. Sean Rice took the guys from Barry Lewin and Richard von Wildeman (Oos Kaap).

Unfortunately Rich lost his camera, and mine died, so hoping to get some more photos from the others. The next day we  caught the ferry across to Ibiza. I was surprised at how awesome it is. I definitely didn’t go for the party scene, but the beaches  are incredible. Wayne “the Legend tour guide” took us to all the best spots, and we checked out the Old Town, and had dinner with Amanda and Mark before crashing at our apartment. No sleep for us however, as all the Pommies were coming (or going) to the Disco’s…

Wayne Powell (tour guide)

Wayne dropped us off at the airport, and I said Adios to the guys as they were all heading home. the second part of my Eurotrip is just beginning though, as I have Marathon Worlds next week. I flew to Barcelona and rented a car. I had been threatening to rent a Mini Cooper, and when the guy behind the counter said that was all he had, I knew it was meant to be! Wow, a bright red one too! STOKED!!!

I lost the map he gave me, but Banyoles was pretty easy to find. Made my way to the Lake, and ran into a guy I know, who hooked me up with a spot to stay right on the water. Lucky lucky! The rest of the team arrives on Saturday, and I am fetching Mark Bosch tomorrow (and dropping off the Mini-my heart is already sore!).

Been good to be on my own for  change. Making the adjustment from Surf Ski to K1 has been interesting, but feeling better in the boat today. Unfortunately have picked up a head cold, hoping it goes away soonest! Took the Mini to Girona to see the sights and sounds, very cool city, hope there are no speeding fines waiting for me!

OK, better hit the sack, as need to be up early tomorrow.

have bought a new camera so hopefully will get some classic shots of the car (and the race venue of course!).

Buenes Nochas:)

Leaving on a Jetplane…

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I am off in one month to go and race my Nelo Ski and K1 in Europe. So excited:)

Thanks to Cátia at Nelo for putting up with my many “change my mind” incidents, and booking my flights.

So first up is the Nelo Summer Challenge. It is going to be an unbelievable event, the guys at Nelo are going out of their way to put on something super special. Personally I am very excited to race all the Flatwater Girls in the Sea:)

Click on the image for the race website and more info

Then it is off to the Algarve for the Race of Champions.

Click on the image for the race website. Portugal seems to be the place to be over the European summer.

I then have a 3 week wait for the World Marathon Championships in Banyoles, Spain.

Team SA is looking good, with some old faces back in the mix.

With such a long wait I might just be heading to the Islands for another race 🙂 … More info soon.

And then, the greatest South African River Race on the calender… da da dum:

The Hansa/Powerade Fish River Marathon. I will basically land from Spain, and drive straight from the airport to make the start of the race. I wouldn’t miss it for the world 🙂

Next post, the guys at Thule (namely Richard Downey) sent me some awesome stuff. Just taking some photo’s and will post soonest!

Eurochallenge…

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New Nelo Ski

I love Spain! The siesta in the afternoon, the relaxed attitude of the people, the long daylight hours in summer.

I was lucky enough to stay in an apartment right on the beachfront, and very close to the Club Nautico, which was race HQ. My folks joined me on this trip, and it was great to have them with me.

Unfortunately I caught a head cold just before leaving SA, which progressed to flu while I was in Spain. Anti-biotics were in order, but the timing was off, and the race came on probably my worst day. After a frantic start, with lots of chaos around the turning can, the pace settled down to a manageable level. I sat back, and let Nikki pull, waiting for my high heart rate to come down. Eevn though our pace was pretty slow, it never dipped below 176bpm, which is a normal herart rate for me, if I were paddling hard, but at cruising speed, that is a bit scary. After about 10-12km, I tried pulling on my own, and it shot up to 186bpm, which is getting close to my max, and I wasn’t even going hard. Tough decision, as I had flown all the way from SA, but I decided to pull back and just ride out the rest of the race. Is this maturity? I hope so as I just celebrated my 31st birthday yesterday:) Well done to Nikki for the win.

The photo above is of my new ski, made by the incredible guys at Nelo in Portugal. Wow, this boat is fast. Pity I didn’t do it justice.

Check out http://www.nelo.pt for more info on this boat and all their other products (namely the best K1 in the world, the Vanquish 3). So stoked to be using their products now, and my new ski and K1 have just left Portugal and will be arriving in Durban tomorrow. Hoping to shake off this bug so that I can get back into training.

Well done to Dawid for winning the guy’s race, and to Shaun Rice for his 2nd place, this guy is so talented!

Next up is the Durban World up, however it is much earlier this year, so I really hope that the wind still blows for us!

My Folks