Fenn Cup “underview”, all 2.5kms of it

Kayaking long

I was pretty amped about tackling the short course for the Fenn Cup. I’d been training much better and far more comfortably in the Evo at the Cooks River, covering 7kms in about 40 minutes.

Hitting Collaroy for the briefing, it was overcast, but the ocean looked fairly tame. It was a little bumpy looking, but nothing I thought I couldn’t handle. That turned out to be a little wrong.

The 7km course started at Mona Vale and the conditions there started to put the doubt in my mind that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. The beach drops away steeply in the water and only a few feet out I found myself chest deep in the oncoming surf – funny, sure, but also a little disconcerting.

Breaking through – yes, I’m holding my breath

The start line was good 2kms out to sea and the swell was coming from seemingly everywhere, combined with a relatively onshore wind. A lot a paddling, a lot of bracing and a lot of “feet out” got me there.

I was tense, nervous and sapped of most of my earlier bravado – this wasn’t extreme sea conditions by any stretch, but it was still beyond me. The start boat set us off and for 200 metres I was shaky, but good (i.e. I managed to paddle forwards).

But then it came unstuck – I over braced and fell in (hence the “underview” in the title). And then did again… and again… I think you get the picture. After the 17th self rescue I was completely exhausted and figured I’d spent more time in the water than on it. I DNF’d at the nearest beach and jogged back to Mona Vale to get the car.

Shark bait – 17 times on the day.

So, I was pretty despondent at that point. However, this was my first crack at an open water race in conditions that weren’t completely flat. I knew I’d struggle, but I didn’t think it would be this much. I have a lot still to learn about reading ocean conditions and learning how to cope with them. Despite the set back, I’m still keen to keep trying at ocean racing – not much point having an ocean ski if you don’t . I’ve also got a goal – I need to be proficient by the middle of the year as I’m taking on the Mauritius Shamaal – nothing like aiming high!:)

So back to training, and training hard.

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