Dunlop Durban Surf Ski WC Report

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Photo by Anthony Grote

Windguru couldn’t quite make up its mind as to how hard the wind would blow come Sunday, however it was certain of one thing: the surf coming in at La Mercy beach would be massive! Take a look at some photo’s by Greg Labuscagne on this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.173550652707583.46845.154072097988772

I had woken up with a sore throat and blocked head on Saturday morning. In my final race prep paddle my heart rate was unusually high, and I slunk off the water and into bed for the rest of the day. I am learning (finally) that when your body gives you warning signs, you need to listen, and act on them. Lots of Vitamin C, water, and an immune booster and the most crucial ingredient-REST. With Berg only 2 weeks away, I really couldn’t afford to get sick now. Luckily it seemed to work, as i woke up with just a small head cold on race day.

My small (really small) rental car, with awesome Thule racks and Nelo Ski loaded on top must have looked pretty crazy driving along the freeway to Marine Surf Life Saving Club for the start at 9am. At least I had wheels! The wind was nowhere to be seen, and the swell looked big, but I knew it would be travelling pretty fast to try to catch.

Race Course

As usual, the race started with the slower batches first, racing snakes last. We were off in B Batch, and we had some pretty fast guys in our batch. I wasn’t feeling fantastic off the start, and let the front bunch go, along with Nikki. I knew this was going to be a long, hard grind and didn’t feel it was necessary to blow myself up in the first 5 minutes.

After about 2km I made a small break, and then basically tried to go just below max the rest of the race. I wanted a nice time buffer over any competitors in case I had a problem coming in at the finish, and ended up winning by 5.5min from Nikki Mocke, with Australian Ruth Highman in 3rd. I felt great the whole way, and managed to keep my boat speed up, as well as catching the odd bump (few and far between), and so I am happy with my form going into Berg.

As is Hank I am sure. He looked phenomenal when he came past me just before the Lighthouse, and I am sure he is going to dominate Berg as he did this race!

I got some great coverage including a National TV clip on the SABC News (even if it showed me getting smashed in the shorey! at least I had a smile on my face!)

Here is a link to the results:

http://www.surfski.co.za/viewresults.php

 

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Tree Blocks, Rain, Fish Eagles and the Swartlands Marathon

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Photo by John Hishin-Cape Town Sport Photography

I spent the past week in the beautiful winelands region of the Boland/Swartland area in the Western Cape. I managed to trip the ever-changing Berg River a number of times, and at all different river levels. It was amazing, as the change that occurred after the heavy rains of Wednesday and Thursday changed the river so much that I could hardly recognise where I was. Weirs that were big drops the day before, I paddled right over the top, oblivious that there was something below me! And tree blocks that had caused big problems were suddenly under water!

It had been 7 years since I had last been on the challenging river, and my fear of the trees was still present! Luckily I managed to trip with many past champions and Legends, such as Giel van Deventer, the Rabies, and Graham Bird. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Each time was a different adventure, the only consistent thing was a massive Fish Eagle flying above us.

I am using a new boat from Knysna Racing Kayaks, and its a lot smaller than any other K1 I have paddled in the river. It’s a lot closer in size to my Nelo Vanquish 3 that I paddle in the flat water. I love the responsiveness of a small, rigid boat, and it handled the river conditions so well! Thanks Albert! I also used Vibram Five Fingers on my feet, it felt amazing to be able to feel my peddles, almost like I was barefoot! I will do a seperate post on the 2 types I am testing out a bit later.

It’s amazing how a bit of river knowledge and confidence through the tress will save you many minutes of hard paddling! I leant the hard way the first few times, and I am hoping to learn even more as time passes. The camaraderie of the local Western cape guys is awesome, and everyone is keen to help and explain where to go in the maze of the Berg River and all her trees and channels!

The SA K1 race was hosted by Peninsular Canoe Club who did an awesome job on the organising front, with loads of safety and they even went and cleared a number of dangerous tree blocks the weekend before!

The race went well for me, I paddled with Robyn Kime the whole of the first day of 40km and most of the second day of 45km. I ended up opening a small gap in the last few km’s to take my first National River title, with Robyn in 2nd, and Berg Legend Jean Wilson outsprinting Hilary Pitchford for 3rd.

In the men’s Hank MacGregor won the endsprint from Lance King, and ever-fit Graeme Soloman in 3rd.

Berg is going to be very interesting!!

Thanks mom for seconding me!

John Hishin-Cape Town Sport Photography

Thule Rocks

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Thanks to Richard Downey @ Thule for my unbelievable roof rack system. It is super stable, don’t think this blustery wind is going to even budge my ski. And, I can get at least 4 boats on my roof now, maybe even 5 if they are all small K1’s!

Thanks to my dad the Swiss engineer for putting it all together for me:)

I also got a bag, which is so simple, yet has everything you need when you travel.

I especially like the section for sunglasses/ipod, that is lockable, and has a hard casing for protection. Brilliant!

Thule really make top class products, and they must have spent thousands of hours designing the products, as they are incredibly well thought out, as well as being top quality too.

They also support paddling in South Africa, as well as many paddlers. Yay! So people, back the brands that back your sport!

See www.thule.co.za for more info.

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!