This race is pretty special to me, it’s where my long distance paddling all began about 8 years ago when I thought I would give a ‘long’ race a go. Something I was so new to and had no idea where it would lead me to where I am today.
Leading into the race I felt quite a bit of pressure leading up to it, not from anyone else but myself. I tend to do this a lot and I guess it’s because I have such high expectations of myself. Which is a good thing right?! I had heard Teneale had to pull out of the event which is a shame as it would have been great to go head to head with her! Local kayak paddler Rebecca Cole was entered to give it a good crack as well as a few up & coming paddlers. I try to race my own race and not worry about other people as much as I can. I had been doing more miles on the water than ever before, I felt fitter mentally & physically, I feel pilates has been a huge help to all of this swell so I was in a very good head space.
Race day came around quickly and we had some predicted Nor Easterly winds averaging 20km’h which I was excited about! The start time was mid day so we have a bit of time to wake up, get a good breakfast into us, collect our skis and make pour was up the peninsula to Shakespeare Regional Park. The race briefing was conducted and course was set, dry start stranding next to your ski, paddle into a head wind for 3 1/2 kms then turning around the media boat making our way down the coastline a further kms finishing at Takapuna Beach.
Before we all knew it we were lining up on the beach ready for a start. You never really realise how hard it is to hold your ski straight into the wind standing on the ground, have your leash connected and your bladder system attached ready to go with over 100 other paddlers!
Whilst making sure you’ve got all of that sorted your in the hands of the starter and the hooter went. I jumped into my ski quickly and got away paddling cleanly. I managed to have a flyer of a start sitting about 8th place out into the wind for the first 3 1/2 kms. I just tried to conserve as much energy as I could but not falling behind. As we hit the media boat we made a right hand turn around it and then started heading down the coastline. From this point everyone started to take slightly different lines. I knew the tide was heading in with us and we had a strong push from our left should so wanted to stay out quite wide for as long as I could. My partner in crime, Sam Mayhew wasn’t too far ahead of me at this point so I followed his line for a while. I found this section quite fun, it was technical in the way of the swells pushing from quite an easterly direction but you could definitely surf the runs and keep cutting back left to ensure you didn’t end up too close to shore. Before I knew it we were coming around the Takapuna reef pole and into the finish line. I unclipped my leash and ran up the beach where Sam was waiting for me! I was so happy to find out I finished 7th overall in the single skis and had a superb race. I was just as happy to find out Sam had an incredible race finishing 2nd overall!!! This race was also our World Champs selection event so we were both happy to have good races fro secure a spot for that!
Massive congrats to the men, Andy Mowlem for the win and Toby Brook for taking 3rd and in the women’s Rebecca Cole for a great race and Danika Mowlem taking 3rd. King and Queen of the Harbour is being moved to November so I’ll be able to give it another crack later this year!!! The reason for the move is to try and make it better timing for the likes of surf lifesavers & flat water paddlers to attend the event. Also it works well within other races around the world and hopefully some more wind!
Next on the cards for me is the prestigious Molokai at the end of May, so ill be doing a fair few miles on the water for the next few weeks!
Until next time