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I was born on 19/04/83 in Empangeni on the KwaZulu Natal North coast to Mother Bambi Edwina May Barber and Father Mark Alexander Lewin. I was brought up in Durban and haven’t left, I love it here. I played almost all sports through school but only started paddling a K1 at 15 years and then progressed to Surfski racing at 18 when I left school. I currently race as a semi pro athlete and compete in events all over the world. I try get to as many international surfski races I can afford.

I mostly live a life of passion for paddling and the sea. This blog aims to share my story through words, pictures and video that take you the viewer into my life as a paddler. Join me on an adventure. Hope you enjoy!

Mouth 2 Mouth 2015 – 1st Double – New Course Record – 2h16min22

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

I go up the north coast every year to do the Mouth 2 Mouth for many reasons. It has one of the most untouched coastlines we get to paddle, the people are salt of the earth and my favorite, when the North East blows, it can be one of the funnest downwinds you can find anywhere on the planet.

The race is always well organized by a crew of people from both towns of Richards Bay and Zini, who changed things up a little this year and made it a doubles race, with the plan to alternate with the calendar in KZN.

I love doubles racing as it gives a team vibe to a normally very individual endeavor. The distance of the race suites doubles as well and I was not the only one was excited for the challenge this year.

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I was lucky enough to jump into a boat with Ausi import Brendan Rice, who is out in SA to do the Fish and stayed on for a holiday. We had a warm up Friday evening in the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back. The boat felt really good as we came back from getting stuck on the shark nets to take the doubles win. More importantly we got comfy in the boat together.

The weather forecast for the weekend was awesome with 2 days of NE. The race decided to hold for the Sunday and we set off out the Richards Bay harbour with a nice 15knot wind at our backs.

Brendan and I had a steady start and worked though the bunch to lead at the harbour wall with a big batch some 50m back lead by the danger crew in the field, good mates Hank McGregor and Lee Furby. We settled into a nice rhythm straight away milking one run to the next across the bay towards new mouth (the first real marker on the course at 8km). This first section is challenging as the runs tempt paddler to head into the bay. I was glad to stick to a straight line aiming for the first point, where the runs would straighten.

The middle section we really went well. It’s hard to see any other boats while going downwind so we just stuck to the game plan of a shallow line all the way down the course. With good conditions I always new there was a chance we could break the race record. I currently own the singles record at around 2h23min and thought we could go 5 min faster in a double at least. We watched the speeds stay high the whole way even though we were into a slight head current.

Near the finish I think my mind wandered as I made two mistakes in the surf coming in that cost us two swims. These things happen but not two in the space of 50m. It cost us some time as well as my pride. We eventually beached with Hank and Lee just behind us, a little too close for comfort after working really hard the whole day to get a lead.

The finish time, even with the swims was enough to get the race record and it’s quite lekker to now own both the singles and doubles times. A big thanks to Brendan for the power in the back of the boat which made my life driving the double downwind so easy. Pity Brendan is going back to Ausi, I could use him in the some of the doubles races here in SA.

A well done to the Zululand crew on another awesome race. Great value for the entry fee, awesome hospitality and of course, some nice wind.

ICF Surfski World Champs – Tahiti 2015 – 12th

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

Climbing off the plane to a rich smell of salt in the air and humidity, I couldn’t buy smile, taking in the vibe, sounds of the warm Tahitian welcome music.

Flashes of fond memories came flooding back from my trip last year where I got to visit 5 islands in 10 days and more importantly make some long lasting friendships. Bending down to receive a lay of flowers around my neck my excitement for the week ahead was at a huge high and the long, very tiring trip, soon forgotten.

The first couple days on the island were spent sorting admin like accommodation, fetching surfski’s and familiarizing myself with the tough logistics of the race week. Just as well as the jetlag from the 12hour time difference really wacked me out of sorts on day 3, forcing a ton so catch up sleep and recovery.

Starting Monday morning of race week with the acclimatization in the bag was a huge boost and training on the racecourse commenced with a couple of really awesome paddling sessions. The wind was from the wrong direction to start but it soon switched with the mood in the race village alight with the prospect of downwind conditions for both Ladies and Men’s races on Friday and Saturday respectively.

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I was lucky enough to stay with a good friend Julian and his family on the western side of the island. The homely feeling of a home stay and great hospitality went a long way to settle the nerves. The daily routine of catching two busses across the inland to the race village became familiar, with the friendly greetings of the locals in their home language sounding more and more like the norm rather than a far away island in the middle of the pacific.

With all in place, I went into the last 24 hour of the worlds more relaxed and confident than any other race in the last year. This may have a lot to do with the last weeks training and prep going to plan but sure does help having amazing people around you in these stressful times. There is pressure and expectation (most put there by myself) causing those big butterflies in the tummy ahead of the big day.

The ladies race was nerve wrecking. I don’t do well as a spectator and watching on the live stream at the finish of the race really got the blood boiling. It was great to see good mates having a go on the world’s biggest stage for our sport. Michele Eray (ex saffa and defending world champion), now racing for her adopted country, the USA, surfed the runs like a downwind queen to lead heading into the final 3km of flat into the finish only to get caught and passed by Teneale Hatton from New Zealand. It was quite a show of physical power and determination from Teneale who is the 1000m K1 record holder. It was quite inspiring to watch such a tight race and such a high level in the ladies. If it showed anything the men’s race was going to be unreal.

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The SA team did very well with Jenna Ward coming 4th overall and winning the u23 title. She lived up to her nickname from marathon, the “lioness” with a gutsy paddle fighting the whole way to the end for every meter. Hayley Arthur (soon to be Nixon) in her first international race came away with a top 10 in 7th. Hayley is certainly one to watch in the future after only taking up surfski a couple of months back.

After a good sleep it was the men’s turn on Saturday on the 34km course on the north of the main island of Tahiti. Smashing some Future Life and coffee into the system on race day, looking over the ocean, I played the race through in my mind. Each step would be important to make sure of no mistakes and a solid outing.

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The start was in a little bay on the inside of a reef pass. With so many boats and the wind blowing 20 knots it wasn’t going to be easy to hold a line and for the first time in some time the paddlers played ball. I got away well in what I thought was a very fair start.

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Jasper Mocke went out like a bat out of hell with a group forming around him to my left, which I joined and another group came up from the right to eventually join after about a Km or so. The first 3 km out to the hot spot buoy was always going to be challenging with side on wind and swell. This is certainly not my strength but the training I have putting in certainly has made me into a much better all round paddler over the last couple weeks. I was happy to stay in the mix for a good 10min on the front guys. The bunches eventually broke up with a bit of boat wake and some really strong efforts by Jasper at the front who ended up taking the hot spot.

I turned into the downwind in the top 15 or so, with tons of boats all on top of each other. I couldn’t make out who was who at first bit, but as I settled into the runs I was able to take a look around to see who was where.

There was a front group that had developed with Sean Rice, Jasper Mocke, Clint Robinson, Corry Hill and Michelle Booth some 100 to 200 head of a big group of up to 10 paddlers all going what we call the “downwind dance”. The list of paddlers is too long to go though but could see Hank McGregor and Murray Stewart on a similar line to myself.

The first 5km of the downwind produced some challenges. There were 6 media and safety boats out front with the leaders creating a lot of wash messing up the runs, this making for hard work, dealing with a lot of side on mess. I stayed calm and just used the water around me the best I could getting some awesome runs in-between the boats coming past.

Eventually the boats move out to sea a little and I chose to move more to an inside line to avoid the chaos. It worked straight away with some nice rhythm and my average speed going up by 1 or 2km/h. There were really good runs the whole way for the course with some big bombers in the first half and then the swell dying off creating faster smaller runs in the second half once around the northern tip of the island and some moto’s (little pot shaped islands on the reefs).

The middle section of the race is a blur of focus, one run at a time. I saw people around me yet couldn’t tell you where they were, with the mind solely on the water and making the boat run the best I could.

In the front of the race there Sean Rice had really gone out hard and lead with 10km to go. In his own worlds “I lost concentration for a couple minutes, lost some time that I just couldn’t get back”. Corry Hill took charge and hard a stormer last couple km into the final reef. The race is never over and with a 3km flat second into the finish and the world’s best chasing. The final stretch into the finish would be a lot of pain. Just like Molokai, Corry showed his diverse talents, not just in catching runs but is physical power holding of a charge from Clint Robinson to take a deserving World Title.

The evergreen Clint took second. A show that age is a just number. This was quite show from an athlete in his 40’s racing guys 20 years his junior. Jasper Mocke rounded out the podium for the SA team, a great result for the world traveler.

Looking back at my 10 years of racing international surfski events I have never seen a field this strong. Its great that the whole surfski community came out firing for worlds and it shows in the depth of the results. Its also really positive to see younger guys getting in the mix on the top 10 on the worlds premier surfski event, promising a bright future for the sport.

My final km’s were super hard with a couple of paddlers converging on the final reef so close to each other. I put me ears back and went away from Mark Andersons and Joey Hall, while gained some big ground on Kenny Rice and Sam Norton in front. I got up to 20m behind them by the line, but a little to late to catch them. This section of flat would normally be a worry which I played through my mind a number of times, imagining tying to just hold on. The body came through though, surprising even myself on the ability to catch time on the flat.

I wrote in a previous blog on how I really wanted to get racing right on this trip after not being where I wanted to be last year on a trip to Maraamu. I certainly got a lot right this year from training leading into the trip, too fine tuning diet and race nutrition (with the help of GU), avoiding the cramping nightmares I was fearing.

My goal for the event was top 10, which I missed by the closest of margins coming home 12th. It is to soon after the event to tell weather I am really happy with that. I do know, that was the best I have paddled in over a year. I laid down everything I have in the tank and I guess I am sort of proud of leaving it all on the water. No mistakes, no excuses and an overall solid paddle all round. I have leant from my mistakes and am still growing as a paddler.

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I have to thank a lot of people who helped me get to a place where I could lay down my best effort at worlds as this trip was a big financial and time commitment. Getting boats to Tahiti is an absolute mission so firstly a big thanks to Fenn Kayaks for the awesome Glide at the race.

Varsity College and Jeep Team South Africa are both long-standing sponsors of mine and without them, my paddling wouldn’t be possible at the level I am able to race at. Both sponsors have become family with real understanding of what it takes to make paddling a reality for me.

Lastly to the people from around the world, who read this blog, sent messages and have my back every day at home. I am blessed with a large community of great people in my life to share these journeys with. Thank you all.

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As I climb on a plane to head homeward my heart warm to the memories made this year on the island. The Tahitian people are amazing and connecting with passionate surfski paddlers from all over the world is always special.

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In a time, which is so important for the growth of our sport, to have a second world champs has gone a long way in uniting the paddling community. We have 2 new world champions and a great downwind race that was watched on a live stream all over the world. Lets hope this inspires more people to get out to the World Champs in the future.

The sport is in such a good place with talks of the next world champs and its bright future with the ICF. I look forward to being involved in the next couple years as the sport evolves.

Weather many paddlers will go back to Tahiti for another race on the main land would be in question after the experience this year. The lack of any organization from the Tahitian Federation was a big challenge for all the athletes at the event with no communication or set itinerary. Sadly this may detract from the experience off the water form many who will not be back. I will certainly be back to Tahiti for many years to come as I have so many friends on the islands and connected so well with the place. I will have to just pick wisely on which events to attend in years to come.

Maururu (thanks you) to all the Tahitian people who made my stay such an amazing experience this year.

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Where? and Why Tahiti?

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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My previous visits and experience of this majestic place in recent years have led me to develop a soft spot and a connection of sorts, for the venue of the ICF Surfski World Champs 2015. Check out my last blog on my path to Tahiti Here

The biggest most prominent questions I have gotten been asked from people over the last couple of weeks’ leading into up to the event has been: is “Where is Tahiti?” and another popular one (justifiably so): “Why are surfski world champs being held here?”.

So here is a little info on Tahiti and the French Polynesian Islands.

French Polynesia is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Draw back on your memories of school days and the classic globe (which still had a use before Google Maps ), Tahiti is on the other end of the globe and exactly 12 hours behind South African local time. French Polynesia is made up of 6 or so bigger well known Islands, with there being 118 Islands in total. Tahiti is the economic steam train of French Polynesia, with the highest population in comparison to the other islands and forms part of the Society Islands, of which Papeete is the capital.

It certainly is the most beautiful place I have been to. Do yourself a favor and Google Tahiti (I’ll be sure to post plenty of pics as well) and it is a feast for the eyes, images of rustic wooden accommodation, hanging over crystal clear water, you’ll be packing your bags and booking a ticket (well, at least 3 if you’re flying from SA) in no time.

After having a bit of time to digest all of the above, you can only imagine the planning and the time that goes into getting to Tahiti. The flying time to Tahiti is quite crazy and it takes a couple days before your feet touch Tahiti soil. Now you can only imagine the logistics of getting surfski’s around the world for the race, no small feat.

Why Tahiti?

There are a number of factors that contribute to a successful and enjoyable event and even more that go into hosting an ICF World Champs. The requirements would be a good downwind course, sponsors, support, funding and the manpower to administer the whole affair.

The big factor people won’t understand until they have been to the islands and this is the one I want to talk about as to why Tahiti is the Worlds venue. The Tahitian lifestyle is centralized around the ocean with kids learning to dive, fish, surf, paddle OC1 and Surfski’s in conjunction with learning how to walk. The ocean forms a part of their every day lives to such an extent that some of the Tahitian history, culture and legacy is founded on the association and importance of the ocean.

It is this cultural charm and Tahiti’s all round majestic beauty that etches such an impression on every visitor, all of which will be on display for the world to absorb at Surfski’s biggest stage. I cant wait for the rest of the world can see what blew me away 10 years ago on my first trip to the islands.

With growing up in the water, the Tahitians have evolved into skilled waterman. Their performance in Worlds is certainly going be something to keep an eye on. I was so blown away last year by the skill levels of the paddlers on the island I had to document it and made a video on one of my paddles with the local club, which you can find here.

Paddling is a way of life for the Tahitian people and I couldn’t think of a more fitting place to have Worlds, right in the home of a place where the ocean and paddling are entrenched in the culture of the people. I look forward to connecting with this phenomenal culture and the even more phenomenal Tahitian people.

My Path To Tahiti 2015 – ICF Surfski World Champs

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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As I sit on the airplane, the reality is now really starting to sink in. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have the privilege of traveling to one of the most amazing places in the world two years in a row. It is something I never want to take for granted and I hope I can soak up every second of the islands and its people.

Tahiti has always been a special place to me. In life, we live various experiences, which mold and define us, these are the life events which, like the proverbial crossroads, are the cause for major shift in perspective (I like to think we can count them on one hand). Some 10 years ago I was lucky enough to travel to the islands at an influential stage of my life personally. I was leaving varsity to make my way in the real world. The trip had an influential and deep-rooted effect, it changed the way I saw the world and was a starting point in shaping the confidence to start my own business.

Tahiti 2005

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It took me many years to get back to this special place with constraints such as the travel time and great expense being the only reason. Despite this I always knew that the island would draw me back and last year the anticipated return became a reality with a great trip to the Maraamu Surfski Race on the iconic Bora Bora. I was fortunate enough to experience the warmth and generous hospitality of the Tahitian people while venturing to five of the islands over a course of ten days. I had a first-hand experience of the life and culture of the locals. My racing however didn’t go according to plan. I was not suitably prepared for the task at hand. This detracted from my experience and I was left with a sense of hollowness, I had failed my own personal expectations.

Going to Tahiti two years in a row is not the most financially viable idea I’ve come up with. Although well worth every cent and the endless hours on the plane, it’s a costly and time-consuming exercise, not something I would or could normally do. When the ICF Surfski World Champs race was announced the kid in me just couldn’t say no.

The second challenge, over and above the cost of the trip, was getting the race right. I needed to fulfill the hollowness of my previous attempt, to do justice what the place means to me, for my awesome sponsors but most importantly, for me.

With not racing on the international stage a lot in the first half of the year it is so hard to gauge how well I could do. This time my focus has been channeled specifically on ensuring that I get to the race the best paddler I can be. More often than not surfski paddling is an out and out time trial effort, both a physically and mentally battle with one self, pushing the limits of the body as well as the mind.

Five weeks ago I compiled a strategic plan of attack to help me with my training, and to help master the critical elements. With the help of a Bio and Dietician, as well as a more in depth look at my programming, the work commenced. Being fully aware of the fact that four-five weeks of training was a bit limiting, it was nonetheless a few weeks of very constructive training. Unfortunately, life in general takes over and balancing work, life and training is not always easy. The limited amount of time I do have however is used constructively.

I can’t believe how much I have been able to achieve in this short space of time. I have given up alcohol, changed my eating habits, and have trained more strategically on and off the water. The results are a happy, fit and motivated paddler. The biggest shift for me however has been a mental one, as you push day in and day out, the change and progress isn’t merely physical. My enjoyment levels while paddling have gone through the roof, loving every minute. I think it’s got to do with throwing fear of failure away and just putting all your cards on the table. It’s an exposing and transparent place to be, laying it all out there. As a result of doing so, has most certainly brought on great personal growth.

I don’t think I have previously been this excited for a trip or race. Not because its world champs but for more selfish reasons. The excitement is to see where I can take the body and mind, how deep I can really go?

These journeys are often so personal yet require so much support. I certainly haven’t been lacking any, from my family, friends, training partners, and sponsors going the extra mile with the little gestures like a gift in the post or music play list for the trip from someone special, none of which go unnoticed. You all ROCK!

So this is the first of a series of blog post on Tahiti 2015. Keep following back for more on my race as well as course and paddler previews of the Worlds. I have my GoPro’s with me so I will be posting some videos/photos of this iconic experience on my social media channels.

 

My Gas / Citadel Dolphin Coast Challenge 2015

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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This annual even takes place on the north coast of KZN, which is my training ground. It’s where I have learnt my trade along with most of Durban’s downwind paddlers. It’s those two elements that make this event special, the great coastline and the people.

The race has been around for some time but has made a resurgence in numbers and vibe the last couple years with some innovative formats and great racing. Its success attracted the title of the KZN Surfski Champs for this year, a nice reward for the effort that goes into organizing such a logistically challenging event.

In the process of getting the KZN Champs, Anton Fouche and his team shortened one of the days to fit the champs criteria, a nice twist from the much longer traditional course. The weather reports much have give the race organizers and paddlers grey hairs, as the wind predictions for the weekend changed on the hour making it hard to tell what was in store.

The call was made to use the Zinkwazi to Salt Rock section twice, which was a great one. It’s a section with awesome scenery that most don’t do often and the right distance for a great hit out at 34km.

Day one the paddlers were greeted with a nice 15knot SW wind for the singles day starting at Salt Rock. With a great turn out and a lot of happy faces that there was some wind the paddlers were set of in 2 batches.

The surf was very mild for Salt Rock standards and most got out without much hassles. It was very interesting to see the difference in the confidence in the surf of those who paddle out of the Durban bay. Paddling in the surf is just practice and I challenge those who want to do downwind paddling to spend more time in the waves, it really will advance your skills in the runs and up your confidence on shore entry and exit making for more fun paddling.

I got a nice clean start and got out without wetting my hair. I picked my line quite early on and didn’t try following anyone out to sea or to shallow, sticking to my plan. I passed a couple paddles who had got out ahead of me and when the GPS clicked over the 1km mark I looked around to see where the other were and couldn’t see anyone.

That’s how it stayed for the next 30km. I didn’t sea another paddler the whole way till the point at Zinkwazi. I didn’t have anyone to pace off so had to just control my effort and which were the best, run angles to use on the day. It was a lot of fun being out in such nice conditions, wind at the back, it felt like true freedom.

There were sections where I found some awesome rhythm and other where I felt I could have been running more consistently, hard to tell with no one around. Overall I was happy with my fuel intake with GU’s every 50min and how well the body handled race pace. A nice confidence boost in the training I have been putting down for world champs in 6 weeks time.

The first paddler I saw was Hank McGregor who took a much wider line out to sea coming in towards the waves at the finish just 200m in front of me. Now I think Hank is in very find form about to leave for world marathons so it was quite a surprise to see him so close.

I had to dodge a set on the outside of the point at the finish and then avoid some rocks on the inside spinning out, not the fastest coming in but safe to take home 2nd to Hank. My slower effort coming in almost let Adam Nesbit who had a blinder paddle in the back door, with him finishing just behind me in 3rd.

Top 10 Men

1. Hank McGregor
2. Barry Lewin
3. Adam Nesbit
4. Kyle Friedenstein
5. Wade Krieger
6. Steve Woods
7. Herman Chalupsky
8. Luke Nesbit
9. Gene Prato
10. Zoog Haynes

In the ladies Michelle Burn was completely dominant with Nicole Russell in 2nd and one of my downwind training partners Sharon Armstrong in 3rd.

I don’t think I saw one person to cross the line without a huge smile on their face after having a compete jol. Conditions really playing ball for some true open ocean paddling.

The highlight of the day would have to be the whale activity on the coast. At the start there were a number of massive whale jumping in sight of the beach and then again on the paddle around the paddlers. I had one land within 100m of me near the finish and after almost jumping out my skin saw a number of them swimming side by side which was quite a treat.

The doubles race was set to run in some NE wind from Zinkwazi back to salt rock the next day. We arrived to a light wind and great hope that it would freshen for some nice open ocean running conditions like the treat of the previous day.

I had teamed up with Bailey De Fondaumiere, Durban’s top junior surfski paddler. Bailey is a talented kid and been coming on some of my downwind training runs with me to get in some practice for the world later in the year. The idea was to have fun and give Bailey some experience in the downwind and stoked to get the opportunity to pass on some knowledge, really worthwhile for a kid with a passion for the ocean and so keen to learn.

We hadn’t paddled together before but this didn’t seem to affect us early on as we got a great start and turned the point in the first couple boats. I made a small mistake on the line going to far out to start but corrected this soon enough not to loose too much time. Bailey was a machine in the back and for a small frame the dude had some nice power. We had a nice consistent paddle in not the best conditions to finish 9th, loosing a couple places with a little swim at the finish.

I will have to take Bailey on another downwind paddle, as he couldn’t have learnt much in the flatter conditions on the day. Our combined times for the singles and doubles day put is in a respectable 4th overall.

A bit thanks must go to the people who make the sport so cool. Anton Fouche who organizes the race has a great team behind him to make it all a success. His sponsors, who are also paddlers in our community, see the value in supporting the sometime strange and wonderful endeavors of taking on the ocean. Thanks to Lee Furby from My Gas and Nic Horn from Citadel for making the event happen, you guys rock.

There are now 4 weeks till I leave for Tahiti for World Champs. That means a lot of work is ahead and the excitement of watching it all come together really has me motivated. Hope to have my readers along for the ride, thanks for the support and encouragement.

Mauritius Ocean Classic – 9th

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Racing

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Sitting on a plain on my way home, reflecting on the last week, my heart can’t help but warm. There are always points in ones life when you question purpose and when WHY creeps into the start of each sentence in your head.

Why?

Well for me the Lux Surfski Week answers a lot of my internal rumblings.

There are a number of elements that make up the experience I identify with so much. It is simply the gathering of like-minded people, to do what they love in an environment of sheer beauty. It answers question on why I paddler, why I love going downwind, why I love travel and why the people you meet on theses trips end up being such a great influence on ones experience.

The week has flown by way to fast. From getting looked after like kings at the Tamassa Resort, Surfing in warm clean water on beautiful reefs to paddling with friends in awesome conditions, time really does fly when you having fun.

I could talk forever on what we got up to but it is easier to show you. I did a daily video on the trip to get across what my writing cant. Check out www.youtube.com/barrysurfski for short clips of the week.

Race day arrived with the paddlers at the Mauritius Ocean Classic, strutting some very happy faces, the wind was blowing through the tall palm trees on the way to the breakfast hall. Wind on a race morning is always the nicest of feelings, excitement of the fun to be had and not just the hurt of pushing ones limits.

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I really hadn’t felt like the body was firing the week leading up to the race but my warm up went well and the shoulders felt looser than they had felt in weeks. A confidence builder ahead of taking on the sports power houses.

The start was a complete mess, but the bunches sorted themselves out heading out round the first point into a solid side chop. The point broke things up with some paddlers willing to take more of a tiger line and other looking for cleaner runs off the reef. The first couple km were a blur of run chasing at max intensity for me. At one point I pulled up to the mix of the font couple paddlers next to Matthew Bouman. I could see a hoard of boats on our outside, hard to make out who was who in the swell as I was constantly was trying to find rhythm with the ocean.

I never really found the efficiency in the bumps I had last year and went through two bad patches in the race. The first just 5km into the race in a swirl of current off the reef I missed a run and it ending up being a shocker mental battle for the next 5min. Maybe pushing to hard and not using the ocean. I ended up trying to force to many runs and missed even more. It was just enough to loose the 200m on the front paddlers.

I then had a great view of the front 5 and could see two boats level outside me. After a talking to myself I got it back together and put a couple of good km’s together with the GPS showing good numbers, each km upping the motivation run by run.

Unfortunately the second bad patch came after a support boat came screaming past and had to sit in its wake for a km. Changing my line again I got my head back in the game and set my sights on the La Morne pass. My line coming in was great and saw Dawid Mocke get a bomb of a wave just 100m in front of me but the ocean went dead and I had to paddle my way in without as much as a runner. The ocean is a funny animal that way, you never know the cards it will deal you on any given day. After a little swim on the inside and a couple places lost the final km was full tilt.

I came home 9th, not the result I wanted but after having so much fun in the runs on the day, one happy paddler.

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The sharp end of the race was won by my Jeep Team, team mate Hank McGregor with a show of power in the final km to win his 3rd title at the race.

Top 10 Results

1. Hank McGregor
2. Cory Hill
3. Michael Booth
4. Matthew Bouman
5. Dawid Mocke
6. Jasper Mocke
7. Steve Woods
8. Mark Anderson
9. Barry Lewin
10. Herman Chalupsky
Top 3 Women
1. Michelle Burn
2. Nikki Mocke
3. Nicole Russell

There are a lot of people that make the race happen and a big thanks must go to Dominic Henry , Albert De R, Keith Fenn, Travis Smith, Dawid Mocke and Anton E for the hard work and effort.

To all the paddlers from around the world that arrive for the weeks paddling, you are actually what make this week so special. I love hanging out with the paddler who are so passionate about the sport and am sure I will be feeding off this energy for weeks to come. Thanks for bring such “character” to the race.

I hope to be doing this trip for many years to come, my trip will be booked in the next couple days for the 2016 edition.

Next up I take a back seat to racing to run the FNB Durban Downwind World Series Race next week. Back to the grind.

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