2011 Summer Series – Botany Bay

Australia Day was awesome this year, not just because we got to celebrate living in the best country in the world, not just the best paddling country in the world, because I finished a race AND didn’t fall off! Fairly stoked.

The Summer Series event started at Dolls Point and headed towards Brighton and back over about 12kms. It was grey, a little blowy, but humid despite being overcast. It was also Fat Paddler’s first race on a ski so there was added incentive to stay focused and on top of the Evo – couldn’t be beaten by a first time race starter (I’m sure I have been before, but just not him).

The race started in the water with the field relatively spread out and heading for the first channel marker.

And we’re off!

Unofficial race steward Malcolm Hall from Carbonology sat with me for the first few strokes and then headed to make sure a few other first timers were making progress. I settled into a pace I was comfortable with and saw a few paddlers I knew in bunch heading to the first marker. Incredibly, something I read in SURFSKI with the Pros jumped into my head and I picked the best line for rounding the mark and picked up a couple of places in the process.

SURFSKI with the Pros – I actually learnt something

My newfound confidence was then put to the test pacing with a few of the paddlers I’d just picked up places on. Midway through the run to Brighton, Malcolm appeared, as if out of nowhere, to see how I was doing – the video showed the truth – I was pushing at a steady pace for me, but Malcom closed the 500 metre gap from where he had been assisting others to me in what appears to be about 5 seconds!

Malcolm making up the distance between the backmarkers and me in about 3.7 seconds

I stopped at the bottom turn to grab my drink bottle, and lost time I wasn’t able to make up on the guys I was chasing and trying to stick with. Lesson learnt – always use my CamelBack! I did catch one paddler on the way back and closed the distance considerably to the others, but had given too much away.

The only other person that got overtaken by me on the day:)

The run home also got me into a better paddling motion – hardly textbook, but I was connecting my leg drive with my rotation and better catch placement and drive on the catch – the Evo went from slightly wobbly to straight as an arrow and picked up speed noticeably.

I now can’t wait until next week when the Mauritius Paddlers will be guided by My Kayak Coach’s Jim Walker in an ocean skills session at Bondi Beach. For Fat Paddler, it will be his first time in open ocean conditions in a ski, ever! For me, I’ve tackled it a few times before, but to say I was either successful or confident is another matter completely.

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