The last two and a half weeks have been, as usual, really busy. With the final tying up of loose ends leading up to the start of the surfski calendar for 2017, life becomes a bit of a whirlwind. And, as always trying to balance work and training is a challenge, and I’m sure, a daily struggle encountered by us all.
It is with great excitement to announce our title sponsors for the 2017 Marine Surfski series! If you haven’t heard by now, we are very pleased to have FNB as the sole title sponsors of the Marine Series for next year. We love what FNB has done for the sport of paddling and look forward to another successful series with FNB. The Marine Surfski series would not be the same without the FNB banners decorating our much-loved Durban beachfront.
Mouth 2 Mouth – Richards Bay
On the odd occasion we need an excuse to drag ourselves away from the crowded coast of Durban and head up the road to the untamed coastline of Richards Bay. Mouth 2 Mouth is another of my favorite surfski events. With too much traveling and not enough training I was sure that this event would be a good opportunity to clock some miles in anticipation of the Pete Marlin (SA Champs) and the Hong Kong Dragon Run later in the year.
There were a lot of happy paddlers on the start line with the wind blowing 25knots. White caps from the wind covered the water as far as the eye could see across the harbour, signs normally indicating an awesome downwind.
The wind uncharacteristically swung from NE to a more Northerly direction, making the conditions very challenging. The side on chop made catching the swell going down the coast extremely taxing on the body. Every run required massive amounts of concentration and physical power.
My race turned out to be all that I had expected, a test to see if I still knew how to paddle and an opportunity to log some time in the seat. I was happy with my fourth place behind that of Gene Prato in third place, Luke Nesbit in second and Matt Bouman in first.
With another week of training in the system, my confidence in my fitness was starting to strengthen. I had done a few longer paddles during my training sessions and the body was handling well. In a moment of boldness I decided, very uncharacteristically, to take part in the longest race on the KZN calendar. I would usually avoid these longer events, especially an event that hits the 50km mark. I have not really regarded myself as a long-distance paddler but with the training going well I was excited to have the opportunity to test my endurance levels, which seem to be improving, perhaps with age.
We had favorable wind predictions, which would aid our paddle from Pirates to Tinley. KZN’s hard-core and highly skilled surfski paddlers took to the beach that day to take on the grueling distance.
I got off to a conservative start picking my way through the surf without getting into trouble. The first few kilometers into the race seemed rather slow with not that many runs out of the Durban bay. With the passing of every kilometer however the conditions and swell began to build. By the time we hit La Lucia I was truly surfing.
The leading field, consisting of Luke Nesbit, Gene Prato and Wade Krieger, had attacked the race right at the outset. They had gone out hard. Far harder than I was willing to go in the first 10km of the race. My goal for the day was to ensure I would return to attempt another of these long distances races, I would have to exercise consistency in my pacing. The leaders of the field were all within sight. As the runs built I started to make good ground, picking up Gene about 40 minutes into the race and then, catching up with Wade a further 10 minutes later. I felt good the whole way, and led the bunch for a brief period from around the 20km mark.
I chose to follow my own line, which proved to not be the wisest of choices. Luke went out much wider, which aided him in finding cleaner runs off the Ballito point. My inside line was not so forgiving and I battled with some very bad refraction being too close to the coastline.
Luke claimed a well-earned win, with Wade in second place and myself in third. To have found myself in the mix in a race of this distance, so soon after my break, was awesome.
The next two weeks are going to be used to sharpen up on some of my week points and I am looking forward to some good racing in November.
Well done to all the paddlers who took part and a huge-thank you to the super-seconds for making sure we all get to do what we love!
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