Formentera Race

Standard

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:)

Advertisements

Cape Town

Standard

Spent the last week in Cape Town, stayed with good friend Megan Kelly (see www.holisticvet.co.za ). The wind blew, as it always does. Although on my first training paddle with the boys, it didn’t blow at all, making the 30 odd km’s seem more like 40 odd! Great to meet with old friends, I also forgot how beautiful CT is.

The plan was to get some solid training in, with an increase in intensity, as well as 2 races of the Discovery/Men’s Health CT Series.

FishhoekMicheleEray02

Photo by Justin Vellacot/Gameplan Media

Both races went well, the first being a 3 lap affair in Fish Hoek, with some headwind, downwind, and 9 surf turns! Great fun! The second was an epic from Fish Hoek to Buffel’s Point in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, held in a seriously strong NW. The above picture is of the 3 lap Race in Fish Hoek.

Surprised with my fitness levels after only 2 weeks of training (or relieved 🙂 ) Back in Plett now, with one more week of prep before the Knysna Sedgefield race, and then off to Hong Kong and Dubai. Not much time to train this year, going to have to rely on some great race tactics…

First Week of Training.

Standard

One week done, many more to go…

OwenM090311 1274

Summer is approaching, and the extra light hours are making getting up early a real treat. Low tides have made for some classic beach runs, and Bongo seems to be coping with the longer distances better:) Strength training has left me a lot more stiff and sore than usual, maybe that comes with turning 30? Otherwise, thoroughly enjoying being back on the water.

First ski session on Saturday, and there were at least 5 Southern Right Whales along the way, and then again, was within 50m of them on the beach run. Bongo kept stopping every time they would bellow out, and look at the sea. Not sure if he could see them, or if he just didn’t know what was making that noise.

On the Keurbooms River, which has been glassy (Yes Glassy Robbie-no wind 🙂 )I spotted a troop of baboons on the bank, and the Fish Eagle was guarding his valley as usual. I am so lucky to be able to train here. Now just need to get the body to agree!

End of Winter Training

Standard

Wow, these past few months have been great. Coming to Durban was a fantastic idea, as not only did I get to train in the relative warmth of Natal’s Winter (whatever-you guys have no idea what a winter is 🙂 ), but I got to do the Winter Surf Ski Series, which was epic. Managed to win every race I entered, and win the B Grade men’s section as well.

The Downwind’s here are superb, with the best part being that the water is warm. Such a difference, when a wave crashes over your legs, and you don’t lose your breath and get numb feet as a result! Besides training in the sea, managed to get most of my flatwater training in at La Mercy-what a beautiful “secret” spot. Thanks to Barry for joining me in some crazy sessions!

Tomorrow is the National Sprint Trial, good to see such massive changes in the way CSA is handling the sprinters, all-in-all it’s so positive, and great to see a plan being put into action. Then on Saturday and Sunday it’s the SA K4 Champs, held at Shongweni Dam – another amazing Natal spot. Getting most of the Olympic K4 together for this, except for Nikki. Should be fun to paddle again together, as it’s been over a year since we raced in Beijiing…

And then it’s the long drive back to Plett, with a last 2 weeks of training at my home base, then off to Portugal for World Marathon Champs:)

Here are some photo’s of the past few months in sunny Durban.

Dunlop Durban World Cup

Standard
Photo by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Photo by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Surf Ski paddling is so much fun! Especially when the wind is blowing, the water is warm, and the dolphins come cruising past.

Sunday morning dawned, and the wind was blowing outside my digs in Durban North. Yes! I had nightmares the night before of a 32km flat paddle, not ideal. So, to get down to the beach at Durban Undersea Club, and have my ski roll in the wind (dinging my ankle in the process) was actually a pleasure, as it meant that my day was only going to get better.

The runs were great! I potentially went a little too shallow, but all in all, my line was good. I got away at the start, and then just tried to concentrate on stringing the runs together so that my boat speed never slowed down. Managed to negotiate the shorey at Westbrook successfully, so no embarrassing ski-on-head episodes there.

Lightie (Clint Pretorius) stormed the field to win from Matt, and Oscar! That guy just gets better with age! Michelle Eder was 2nd in  the women’s race, and Tiffany Kruger was 3rd.

Great event, thanks to Dunlop for coming to the party, and to Billy and TRacy for organising it.

At Nagle Dam now for a flatwater training camp. Next stop, Portugal for World Marathon Champs!

Photo by Craig Dutton

Photo by Craig Dutton

Press Releases by Gameplan Media

Standard

 

Racing to a win in Mauritius-photo by Barbara Yendell

Racing to a win in Mauritius-photo by Barbara Yendell

 

 

Durban – Olympic star Michèle Eray will start this weekend’s Dunlop Surf Ski World Cup Durban as the overwhelming favourite to win the women’s title, and in the process continue the staggering unbeaten run in domestic and international surf ski races.Eray, who hails from Plettenberg Bay but is currently based in Durban where she is competing in the winter Discovery Men’s Health Surf Ski Series, won the tough Investec Surf Ski World Cup in Mauritius held in difficult big surf conditions off the Indian Ocean Island, racing away from Toti stalwart Michelle Eder in the dying stages of the race.

After a thoroughly successful Beijing Olympic Games where she stroked the South African women’s K4 into the A final, Eray has turned her attention to the discipline of surf ski racing that she loves, and has proved to be unbeatable.

Eray hit global headlines by winning the lucrative Dubai Shamaal in November last year, starting her unbeaten streak that has taken in a number of tough internationals, and all of the domestic series races she has entered.

Apparently carefree in her attitude, the likeable Eastern Cape star is a fiercely determined competitor who often measures her performance against male competitors, while campaigning for improved recognition for elite women’s achievements.“It looks like I will be starting in B Grade and it will be an added incentive if I can win that category as well,” said Eray.

Eray is likely to find her toughest competition coming from the core of elite local surf ski paddlers, including the Amanzimtoti duo of Tiffany Kruger and Michelle Eder, Donna Winter, Nathalie Veckranges and Angelique Mulder, as the defending champion Alexa Cole has not been racing competitively this season.

 

 

 

The Dunlop Surf Ski World Cup Durban race will be staged on either the Saturday 11 July or Sunday 12 July based on the optimal downwind weather conditions forecast. However race committee head Billy Harker             has indicated that he is aiming to run the race on Saturday 11 July

Should the weather be coming from the south, the race will repeat last year’s course from uShaka beach in Durban to Westbrook beach outside Tongaat, a distance of 32km.

However should the prevailing weather be coming from the north east, then the race will start at Ushaka beach and finish at Winklespruit, 35km in distance.

Should the World Cup be raced on the Saturday, then a social mixed doubles race will be held from DUC on the Sunday where organisers are encouraging the serious racers to paddle with their spouses, as a thank you for their support.

 

 

 

Charged atmosphere ahead of Dunlop Surf ski World Cup

Durban – Surf ski paddlers will be anxiously watching the ocean and hi-tech weather forecasting models to see if the anticipated weather front arrives on the weekend for the Dunlop Surf Ski World Cup Durban 2009.

With a powerful field of the world’s best surf ski racers assembled for the 35km downwind race, the organisers have stuck to their guns and will wait for the arrival of the frontal system on Sunday to be able to offer the optimal swell and sea conditions for this premier event.

With McGregor absent, away in the Western Cape to defend his title in the Berg River Canoe Marathon, the door has been left open to crown a new champion, leaving the classy field of elite surf ski racers decidedly on edge ahead of the race.

Durban surf iron man Matt Bouman has enjoyed prodigious success in the domestic Discovery Men’s Health Surf Ski Series this winter where he is unbeaten, albeit in generally mild ocean conditions, and will start the race as one of the serious contenders to lift the title, and the winners cheque of R40 000.

“It sounds like I can’t handle big downwind conditions, which is absolutely not the case!” said Bouman. “I have not been at my best in a few of the bigger races, like the Mauritius race this past weekend, so I am keen to do well in Durban this weekend.”

Bouman made it clear that young Durban star Clint “Laaitie” Pretorius presents the biggest challenge to the title. “I can get the better of him in a training paddle every time, but when there is a cheque waiting at the end it is a different story,”
said Bouman.

Pretorius narrowly lost the Investec Mauritius Ocean Challenge title to Hank McGregor in big swells on the weekend, and is due another big international result after his sensational victory in the 2006 Molokai Challenge.

 

Race boss Billy Harker         told a gathering of sponsors, media and elite paddlers that he was planning to start the race at the Durban Underwater Club at Ushaka Beach at midday on Sunday, as the weekends balmy windless weather will give way to the arrival of a South Westerly front mid morning on Sunday.

That will pave the way for a repeat of last years 32km course from Durban to Westbrook beach outside Tongaat, though the winds and swell will be less severe that those experienced last year when Hank McGregor raced away in three and a half metre swells to claim the title.

However the race organising committee are still open to changing the venue – and the day – of the race to take advantage of moderate Easterly winds on Saturday that will offer a race from Durban to Winklespruit. The final decision will be relayed to all participants by SMS and at the pre-race briefing.

 

Another elite icon Dawid Mocke         from the Western Cape agrees, and was quick to debunk Pretorius’ apparently lackadaisical approach, pointing out that the Durban North youngster had come storming through the field to claim second in last years Durban Surf Ski World Cup, and then repeated his come-from-behind charges in the Hong Kong Dragon Run, the Dubai Shamaal and last weekend’s international in Mauritius.

“Watch your back!” was his clear message. “There is a very clear strategy to (Pretorius’) race, and it is working well for him at the moment,” said Mocke.

2007 winner and current surfski.info world series champion Oscar Chalupsky stressed that the extent to which the arrival of the weather whips up the swell would profoundly determine the outcome of the race and the likely title contenders.

“If there is a bump out there, then the experienced guys like myself and (his younger brother) Herman (Chalupsky) will be there, but if it is flat like it has been all week, then the younger sprinters will come to the fore. Make no mistake 35 kilometres is a long way if the conditions are tough.”

He also looked to the largely unheralded international contingent to perform, particularly if the conditions are not as big as last year. Mark Anderson will fly the flag for Australia, and will race for a place in the prizemoney with Frenchman Yannick Laousse.

His Brittany compatriots Gaetan Sene and Martin Gunda and have both been forced to withdraw due to injuries suffered in the build-up to the race.

The women’s race sees Australian Lara Taylor eager to mix it with the classy field of locals headed up by the apparently invincible Michèle Eray, and the likes of Tiffany Kruger, Danica Vorster, Michelle Eder, Nathalie Veckranges and Donna Winter.

Eray was in superb form winning in Mauritius, a title that will sit alongside her trophies from the Dubai Shamaal, Hong Kong Dragon Run, Eurochallenge, the Cape Point Challenge, the SA Single Ski Champs and the 2009 Drak Challenge canoe marathon.

The sprightly twenty-something Plettenberg Bay star who stroked the SA women’s K4 to the A final in the Beijing Olympic Games last year has had the measure of all her challengers in the past year, and hasn’t tasted defeat in a ski race in that time.

The event will provide a great opportunity for ski enthusiasts to follow the race live on a big screen at the Durban Underwater Club on Sunday afternoon, as fifty boats will be fitted with GPS tracking devices, allowing for real time monitoring of the positions of every contenders in each of the categories.

With over R120 000 in prizemoney spread between the various classes and age groups in single and double skis, the three star event on the surfski.info world series remains one of the most prestigious titles on the global calendar.

“That’s what attracted us to this event,” said

Georg Schramm, Head Sales and Marketing at Dunlop Tyres. “This race represents a lifestyle that and a search for excellence that we can identify with.

6th Win

Standard
Photo by Anthony Grote
Photo by Anthony Grote

Today’s race started at the Durban Undersea Club (DUC), which is gem of a spot, nestled in the corner of the Durban Beachfront, near the Harbour Wall. We paddled along the coast towards North Beach, stopping three times to go around bouys placed in the Surf Zone. The first was at New Pier, the 2nd at Bay of Plenty, and the final obstacle was at Battery Beach. You did 2 laps, meaning you went in and out through the surf 6 times. Many opportunities to make, or break, your race.

I had a stormer, finishing in 9th place Overall in the Men’s event.
The photo on the right is by Anthony, see www.anthonygrote.com for more excellent pictures.
On Friday I am off to Plett, for some super, soul-cleansing forest and sea time 🙂 Actually the SA Marathon Champs will be held over the weekend of the 27th and 28th June, and I am the lucky person who needs to go organise. Plus I am racing, so I really need to get down there. Vert excited about going home for a few weeks, to see my family and my puppy Bongo. Hope he still knows who I am…