A week in Hawaii – ‘Pre Molokai’

It all started off with a 8 1/2 hour flight on Air NZ on Tuesday night. Sam and I had a pretty good flight as we departed Auckland 10pm Tuesday night and arrived in Hawaii at 8am in Hawaii, this meant we were able to get a sneaky 5 hour sleep! – winning!

Our first day in Hawaii was pretty amazing we went for a swim on the amazing Waikiki Beach and also had a pretty incredible paddle from the finish of Molokai ‘China Wall’ and then 16kms of downwind to the Outrigger Canoe Club. The swell and wind were pumping..

One highlight was definitely getting surprised that I would be racing a Epic V10L GT! Thank you so much to the Epic team for organising this for me!

Wednesday was more a chilled day having a surf at Waikiki and relaxing. In the afternoon we were lucky enough to be invited up to the North Shore for a Team BBQ right on the beach of Pipeline and Gas Chambers! (World Famous Surf breaks) This was truly incredible to experience this up on the North Shore.. Sunsets, swimming and a delicious BBQ! A massive thank you to Charles & Beth for your hospitality!

I also received my Bennett paddle all the way from Australia and it is a huge honour to be a part of the Bennett Team! Thank you to Greg Bennett for all your work and getting this to me for Molokai! Be sure to check out my Facebook and Instagram for pictures of my new bennett paddle and Epic GT as swell as ongoing pic’s and updates.

Thursday morning was a really early wake up and we went to see the sights of Pearl Harbour.. It was my second time there but nice to show Sam around the place and I don’t think it could ever get boring as it’s such a moving place to visit. In the afternoon we had short paddle and wave play before heading to race registration in Hawaii Kai and a nice dinner on the waterfront at the Kona Brewing Co.

Friday morning I went for a light paddle and am feeling really good. At lunchtime Sam organised a helicopter tour of Oahu and it was so incredible to see the sights  from above! We now have the afternoon to relax before flying to Molokai tomorrow!!

Race day is Sunday and this year there is a staggered start. Female’s and intermediate males start at 8:50am Hawaiian time and elite males & OC1’s start at 9:30am. The wind looks to be dying off to nil wind at all but hopefully we have some bumps out there!

Until next time –

Happy Paddling 🙂

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Maui Jim Molokai World Champs

The Molokai World Champs is a 52km paddle from the island of Molokai across the ‘Channel of Bones’ to the land of Oahu. This channel is known to be one of the World’s most dangerous channels due to its large swells, winds, currents and no land for miles! In 2014 I went into Molokai with no real expectations of how I would perform, it was by far the longest race I would have done and I really had no idea or what to expect. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to win, it’s in my nature and I don’t accept anything less from myself. 2014 Molokai took me 4hrs and 33minutes and I came home with the win (11 minutes ahead of the next female). After the race I thought to myself no way am I ever doing that again… I had blisters on my hands I couldn’t count for and was in a world of pain.

2 years later and I’m back…. about a year ago I thought to myself I want to be the female with the most Molokai win’s… I want to break the Molokai female race record!

Over the past 6 months training has been pretty intense.. Luckly my awesome Partner & Coach Sam Mayhew and I had sat down every week and planned the sessions to work in with my shift work. Long paddles up to 4 1/2 hours, 5KM Time Trials, and intense threshold sessions were among them as well as recovery sessions. After King of The Harbour I knew I was in the right place, I was fit, healthy and just needed to maintain this and increase the distance paddles. Unfortunately a week ago I was hit with some sort of virus/cold.. This is not the optimum preparation I would have wanted but it may not be the worst thing for me having a long taper!

With Molokai approaching fast and race date in just over a week the nerves are starting to kick in! I am not one to really show my nerves and let other people know how nervous I get I just seem to keep it to myself! Nerves are different and handled differently by everyone.. I’ve always been one to get pretty nervous event to the point of when I was younger I used to be sick before racing. Thankfully I’ve learned to control it! I believe some nerves are a good thing.. if you don’t have any then your not in the right frame of mind..

On Tuesday morning Sam and I fly out to Hawaii where we will have a couple of training runs before the race on Sunday just to make sure the ski is set up correctly and to get used to the wind & swells. As well as a couple of recovery days and some light paced sight seeing!

Be sure to check out my Facebook page for updates in Hawaii!

I would like to say a huge thank you to all my sponsors, family & friends for all that you do for me and helping me get here! Epic Kayaks, Vaikobi, Pita pit NZ, Balance Sports Nutrition SOS Rehydrate, AUT Millennium, Orewa Massage Worx

Happy Paddling!

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Post work paddle from Mairangi Bay, Photo: Sam Mayhew Go Pro

Feature Image: Josh Neilson Photography

Queen of the Harbour – The 2016 World Surf Ski Series has begun!

The World Surf Ski Series begun last weekend with New Zealand’s King and Queen of the Harbour held in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. The conditions were looking rather good for a Sunday race with winds of 20 knots mid week leading up to the weekend however that quickly changed! The wind died off to pretty much nil and lake type conditions. On Thursday night the race course was decided by race director Garth Spencer to be held on Saturday and to be run from Auckland’s Royal Akaranga Yacht Club down to Auckland’s iconic landmark, Waiheke Island with a 5km loop up the top of the Island extending the race distance up to 23kms. With dead flat conditions and and out-going tide it was going to be a tough race! We all knew that the start would be critical to get on a good pack and it would come down to the fittest person on the day. The night before the race it was decided that the start would be a Le mans race start (dry land) this came to quite a shock for most paddlers as we usually do a water start.

I knew in myself I was fit, I had a compulsory  month break in January due to a recent health scare and from then on I have been putting in the hard yards. Along with Partner & Coach Sam we have been doing a mixture of training from the surf club down at Mairangi Bay and also Ocean ski from Takapuna Beach and also adding in about 3 runs a week to mix it up. I had been feeling really strong and controlled during training and was feeling really good leading up to King and Queen of the Harbour. Unfortunately for Sam he didn’t have the best of luck on Sunday the week before the race he was admitted to Hospital for a Gastric Outlet Obstruction and got released on Wednesday, having not eaten for 4 days it was looking unlikely he would race. (on the back of getting influenza at last years World Champs)
On Saturday morning we turned up at the race start at about 8:30am for a 10am race start. I was very excited to be racing my new Epic V10L GT a fully carbon ocean ski with a custom made black paint job! Sam had decided to race even though he probably shouldn’t have! I got all set up and made sure I had everything ready to go and had a pre race warm up. At 10am the race had started, I possibly the worst start I could imagine and missed my foot strap when I ran down to pick my ski up, I finally managed to pick it up and by this stage I was in the back half of the field getting into the water! – not the start I was hoping for! I then worked extremely hard to work my way through the field and found myself in a pack of about 5 other paddlers, one of these paddlers being the current World Champion Teneale Hatton, I knew she would be hard to pull away from but had to stick to my own game plan and not worry about what anyone else was doing.  I stayed with this pack for about 2-3kms and about 7kms into the race I managed to pull away from Teneale with 3 other paddlers. I worked so hard to keep pulling away and tried to catch the next person in front of me. I got to the turning boat at Waiheke Island and knew I had about 5kms to go, at this point I wasn’t feeling so flash, my heart rate was sitting at 185bpm and I was hurting! I was with two other paddlers and knew I had to stick with them. We turned the top turning marker up the top of Waiheke and we were on our final stretch, the two paddlers I was with managed to pull away from me and I had to keep pushing through the pain. I crossed the finish line and was so happy and exhausted at the same time! It was definitely one of the toughest, flattest races I have done in a while! I came away with the win ahead of Teneale Hatton in 2nd and Stef C in 3rd. In the Men’s field it was top 3 Australian with Cory Hill taking the win, Michael Booth in 2nd and Mark Anderson in 3rd. Final results can be found here: https://www.webscorer.com/racedetails?raceid=66378
Overall I was really happy with my race, bar my start of course! I have a hard 5 week training block now after a week recovery leading up to Molokai in 7 weeks! Molokai is also the next World Series race held on the 29th of May in Hawaii.
Thank you to Epic Kayaks for getting my V10L GT over to me in time for the race and your continuous support! Also thank you to Vaikobi, PitaPit NZ, Balance Sports Nutrition, SOS Rehydrate, Fergs Kayaks and Orewa Massage Worx for all your support and helping me to achieve this!
Happy Paddling 🙂
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Back into the hard yards!! New Clinics, and Team Vaikobi

After a good 4 week break after my health scare i’m about 3 weeks back into training! I was really struggling during my break to not be out in the water training and racing, it was definitely tough! Im now in week 3 being back and absolutely loving it. Week 1 was very hard, my muscles were sore after every session and I kept thinking ‘mannnn’ have I lost this much strength and fitness?!’ Slowly I got back into my groove and started feeling great.

Last weekend I had my first long race in a while, the Bo Herbert Memorial Race, a 32km race in Northland, NZ. Sam and I decided to drive up early morning Saturday (day of the race) so  it was an early wake up. I managed to have a sneaky sleep in the car while Sam did all the driving! Once we arrived we had a pre race meeting in Tutukaka and the race course was finalised. It was a tough 32km race from Matapouri Beach, we then turned left up the coast and headed north for about 6km’s and turned around a bouy. The entire way to the bouy was a slight head wind with a bit of side chop to throw in the mix! We then paddled all the way down to Ngunguru where there were a couple more turning bouy’s. That was suppose to be a downwind section but it was very much like a washing machine and very hard to catch anything. There was about a 2km section where there were some catchable runners though! Once we turned the bouy at Ngunguru we headed back north again and turned into Kowharewa Bay. It was definitely one tough race! over 50% of the race into head wind it not what I call fun.. but hey, it’s all good training right?!! I ended up finishing 1st female and about 9th overall and gained some new blisters. 1st in the mens was South Africa’s Sean Rice. It was a very well organised race and definitely one to do again!

Since the Bo Herbert race i’ve continued to maintain my level of training and mixing it up with spec ski training with Surf Lifesaving nationals fast approaching. There’s a lot of big events coming up on my calendar including NZ Surf Life Saving Champs (2 weeks), NZ King and Queen of the Harbour (4 weeks) and Molokai (2 1/2 months) so pretty full on! My main focus is definitely the Ocean paddling but still incorporating the spec ski training into it. Spec ski is great for feeling powerful and building strength within your stroke. I’m really looking forward to Molokai this year after not racing last year. It is definitely a tough 52km paddle but I can’t wait for every minute of it! I’ve started training for Molokai which means long paddles from about 20km – 40/50km paddles. The weekends are set aside for those mammoth paddles usually and I am excited for them!

I have also started running paddling clinic’s for those beginner/intermediate paddlers wanting to gain new skills, improve technique or even give the sport a go! Sam is also helping out and we are really wanting to build the surf ski lifestyle within NZ and get more people out there enjoying what we have in this beautiful country! The clinics are run once a month at the moment with one on one sessions available aswell. For more information on these you can email me at rachelclarkepaddling@gmail.com

In exciting news I am lucky enough to have teamed up with Vaikobi, an awesome paddling/active sports wear where you can wear doing any watersport such as paddling, standup, surfing, swimming. The Vaikobi gear really comfy and not restricting at all when paddling. My favourite items are definitely the V Active Aztec Capri and the Performance Visor to protect my face from our harsh NZ sun. Check out some Vaikobi products here: www.vaikobi.com and keep an eye on my social media for photos and updates in Vaikobi gear and as part of this passionate company/brand.

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The Summer Season – High’s and low’s

After the final World Series Race in Perth Sam and I arrived back in NZ and finally summer had arrived! Back to training in bikinis and weekends spent venturing in the sun. With no ocean racing until early February it gave me the chance to have a bit of a break from the long paddles and ocean ski. It has allowed me to get back into the clubby season for the summer. Most nights are spent down at Mairangi Bay Surf club training on the spec ski, board and ironman sessions. Included in training is getting back into the gym about three times a week, running and the odd recovery swim. So far I have had two life saving competitions where I have raced pretty well coming away with some firsts and seconds. Im happy with where I am at but always loads to improve on going into the main competitions like Eastern Regional Champs in late January and NZ National Champs in March. I am really looking forward to racing at these bigger competitions and seeing what I can do. The surf season really allows me to refresh my mind and really think about my 2016 goals in Ocean paddling and which events I want to target. One of those goals is heading back to Hawaii for Molokai in May. This will be the main event for 2016 I am targeting which means 30-50km paddles for a 12 week block leading up to the race. Molokai is definitely a mental race not just physical I think laying off the pressure over the summer for a couple of months with ocean paddling will be good for my preparation going into Molokai more focused and determined than ever.

Over the past couple of months I have had something else very personal on my mind, In October 2015 I went of a cervical smear test which came back as abnormal. In December I had to get a biopsy done to see to what level the cells were. The Doctor advised me my results came back as what they call CINN 2 & 3, these are called pre cancerous cells where if not taken out can turn cancerous over time. I then had to have whats called a Lletz procedure where they remove the cells under a local or general anaesthetic. This means no swimming or strenuous activity for 3-4 weeks. This is a huge set back for me and to be honest I don’t know how I’m going to do it with no paddling, running or even going in the water for that long! But if I look at it another way I think a few weeks break may actually do me some good before the Molokai training kicks in! One thing I do want to say to all you females out there please go and get your Cervical checks done because it could save your life before it’s too late!

On a more positive note I am extremely happy and honoured to announce that i’ve partnered up with AUT Millennium based on the North Shore. I’m very excited to get into the gym and utilise their facilities to improve my training! AUT Millennium has top of the line facilities in the gym, outdoor tracks and 2 x 50m swimming pools. Also at AUT Millennium is Healthzone which is a great Family Practice to keep your health in check or even have some of those sports injuries looked at! Check out AUT Millennium’s website here: http://www.autmillennium.org.nz

Happy paddling =)

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Final 2 World Series Races  – Perth, WA

The 2 final races of the 2015 Surf Ski World Series over here in Perth, WA were the ‘West Coast Downwinder’ and ‘The Doctor’ held one weekend after the other.

The West Coast Downwinder was a shortened 17km race from Swanborne SLSC to Sorrento Beach in dead flat conditions with 36 degrees! It was one killer race. I was feeling really good going into this race after a good break after Tahiti and getting over sickness then having a good solid training block. The race started with the top men going off in a large bunch. I managed to get on the back of the mens pack for about 5 minutes. I then fell off the wash and a group of about 7 paddlers was formed including South Africia’s Michelle Burn. For about 9km’s we were all taking leads and slowly one by one a paddler would fall off the wash. At about the 9km mark myself and another male paddler managed to break away from the rest of the pack and slowly caught a couple of paddlers in front of us! I managed to hang on right till the end of the race finishing 21st overall and the 1st female. The top 3 males were: Jasper mocke, Cory Hill and in 3rd Michael Booth, in the Women’s race it was myself followed by Michelle Burn and Natasha Leaversuch in 3rd. 

The next couple of days were crucial for recovery going into ‘The Doctor’ the following weekend. Sam and I had a light week planned of down winds and light runs. Tuesday night I was hit by a bad case of food poisoning and was up all night with that unfortunately keeping Sam awake also. Wednesday was a day of recovery for me trying to get my hydration levels back and my energy up. Wednesday evening we did a downwind clinic with the legend Dawid Mocke where I learnt a lot of points regarding downwind paddling and it was very helpful. I always recommend learning from those experts in the sport at any opportunity you get!

On Saturday it was time for the biggest race with regards to participants in the World with over 320 competitors, ‘The Doctor’. The race consists of paddling from Rottnest Island turning a pole about 20kms from Rottnest and then another 7kms back to Sorrento Beach. Returning to this event after winning it last year I knew what to expect; the awesome down winds and trying to find a pole in the middle of the ocean. This year was no different. The female race started 15 minutes prior to the males race. As we set off I was in 2nd place to the hotspot after Teneale. I then started to catch the runs and kept heading slightly right. Michelle soon passed me and I tried to stick with her. Slowly Teneale and Michelle started getting further and further ahead and I couldn’t shorten that distance. I had to race my own race and not worry about them. I ended up going way too far to the right and nearly missing the pole! One positive was I had a strong finish and ended up getting 3rd. I definitely didn’t feel great in the race and very flat. My average HR was sitting at 150bpm where I am usually around 180bpm. The top 3 males were: Cory Hill, Jasper Mocke and Dawid Mocke in 3rd, in the Women’s it was Teneale Hatton, Michelle Burn and myself in 3rd.

This brings my 2015 World Series racing to an end. Overall i’m happy to come away with 2 World Series win’s and 4 3rd’s. I have learnt so much in all these races and definitely have some things to work on over the next few months and am excited to see what 2016 brings.

I want to say a massive thank you to all my sponsors, family and friends for helping me get here and compete around the world in such an amazing, exciting sport.

Happy paddling,

Rach

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Across the Ditch…

Since getting home from Tahiti  Sam and I had a nice wee 2 week break from training it’s been good to have a break off the water and mentally getting set for the last 2 World Series Races of the year. 2 weeks was enough time to fully get over being sick and re gain that focus to want to be back on the water and training. As after all it had been close to 5-6 weeks since we had done a proper training session in full health.

I sat down and had a hard think and set some goals and a 6 week training block to get me to the first World Series race over in Perth, WA. I was very focused and determined to have a hard hit out at these races. With no racing in Auckland I had 3 key sessions per week to focus on and to make sure they were done at 100%. I also moved surf clubs and joined Mairangi Bay SLSC which is situated on Auckland’s North Shore. There are a great group of people to train with down at Mairangi Bay and awesome set sessions. I incorporated a lot of spec ski paddling which got that strength in my paddling back, I began to feel really strong and powerful on the water again and gained a lot of confidence back.

The 2 World Series Races Sam and I are heading over to Perth for are the Fenn West Coast downwinder and the following week is the Epic Kayaks Doctor (Also Australian Champs). Last year Sam and I came along to the Doctor and it was an absolute blast with epic conditions so how could we not come back?! In the 5th week of the training block Sam and I flew over to Perth and arrived late Thursday night. Friday morning we had a nice easy paddle in the afternoon for a flush out. with the race on Saturday. The West Coast Downwinder is a race from Fremantle to Sorrento Beach (24km) however due to conditions and 36 degree weather race organisers have decided to shorten the course to 18kms. There is definitely a hot mens field here in Perth with the likes of World Champion Cory Hill here and other top guns such as Jasper Mocke, Dawid Mocke & Michael Booth. In the women’s field there are also some hot competitors here with locals from Perth and up & kayakers.

The West Coast Downwinder for me is purely a hit out for the Doctor. I would love it if there were some great downwind conditions however it looks like that won’t be the case!

If some of you have been following my social media sites you will have seen I have teamed up with Pita Pit. Pita Pit has over 85 stores in NZ and more on the way. Check out Pita Pit’s website here: http://pitapit.co.nz

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2015 Ocean Racing World Champs – Tahiti

Following on from my last blog – Poor Knights Crossing I had a good 3 week block of training going into the Ocean Racing World Champs in Tahiti About 2 weeks out from Worlds I had a 26km down river race from Cambridge to Hamilton. I had just completed a late shift so only had about 4 hours sleep however it was a really good hit out to have especially going down river. I won the women’s event and managed to race against some good guys in the field and hold my own which I was happy about. (Sam was on night shifts so couldn’t join me for this race, and then unfortunately went down with influenza, and would be the end of his worlds fighting this off for the next 2 weeks.)

After the that race I then had another week before we left to Tahiti where we started to ease back on the sessions, which also meant no more gym.

When we arrived in Tahiti 1 week out from the race it was a sunny 28 degrees, a lot warmer than New Zealand for sure! Our hotel was incredible with it situated on the beach in a little bay on the Northern side of Tahiti. Majority of the competitors were staying here so it was a pretty awesome environment with everyone around. We had just under a week to fine tune and prepare for the World Champs. The Women’s race had been finalised for the Friday and the Men’s on the Saturday. I also unfortunately picked up a flu/virus in the final week and had 5 days to get well. I was definitely not 100% and it was had trying to stay positive being so close to the biggest race of the year. I didn’t paddle Sunday – Tuesday trying to let my body recover but I struggled watching others paddle and fine tune whilst I was sitting watching. On Wednesday I managed to get out on the water and get a feel for my new Epic V10L GT, although still being sick the ski felt amazing and very responsive (the lightest ski on the market weighing in a little over 8kg). Partner Sam and I paddled out and checked out the finishing stretch, and the reef about 4km’s out to sea, which would become the final stretch of the race.  On Thursday I didn’t paddle feeling pretty average and just tried to conserve energy, and had a relaxing day preparing for race day on Friday.

Friday morning – Race day

I got up about 7am and went for a pre race warm up. I still felt pretty blocked up but had to get past that and be positive. I then had a big breakfast and we drove down to the race start for 11am.

We got down to the start and the wind was blowing and I was beginning to get excited. The race consisted of a 3km paddle out through the reef and side on tot he swell to a hotspot turning bouy then approximately 27kms of awesome downwind along the coast finishing off with a 3-4km flat water paddle back to the finish. The race started and I felt pretty terrible, I was sitting in third place out to the hotspot and just tried to stick there, I didn’t have the energy to surge so I maintained that spot. turning the bouy Teneale and Michelle seemed go on a inside line along the coast. I decided to take a wider line to catch the larger swells. I was having a blast and thinking “It doesn’t get much better than this”, I could see the lead boat throughout the race, about 6km’s to go I saw South African’s Jenna Ward close in on my inside. I know I had to try stick in front of her so kept pushing the runners as hard as I could and tried to work every little run I got. I passed the reef and knew I had about 4km’s to go. Jenna was hot on my tail as we headed to the finish. I knew if I stuck a boat length ahead it would be hard to pass if it came down to a sprint. As I approached the turning bouy I picked up the pace and sprinted another 200m to the finish. I knew I finished 3rd and was stoked and relieved at the same time.

Overall I was pretty happy to come away with 3rd at my first Ocean Racing World Champs considering my health was not 100%. I will definitely be back in 2 years time to the World Champs and am honestly excited to see what I can do being 100%. In the final build for this race I was paddling the strongest and fastest I have ever done so before, so on one hand disappointed to not be able to unleash this at the World Champs, but I know what I can do once fully healthy and look forward to future races to show this, and achieve my goal of World Champion.

The next day I jumped in the bus with the men and went along to the start to see the men head off. I then headed back to the hotel where there was a big screen and you could watch the entire race! It was awesome watching the men and having the live coverage set up. the men’s race was so close between the top 10 paddlers it was pretty awesome to sit back relax and watch it unfold. The finish was unreal having the traditional Tahitian dancers on the beach, drums going crazy, the whole beach lined with flags and local culture was a truly special finish to a race.

Congratulations to everyone who raced and to those who made the podium!

Womens: 1st Teneale Hatton NZ, 2nd Michelle Eray, USA, 3rd Rachel Clarke NZ

Mens: 1st Cory Hill AUZ, 2nd Clint Robinson AUZ, 3rd Jasper Mocke SA

Thank you to every single person who has supported my getting here, to my friends, family. To my partner & coach Sam for pushing me during every session and for always being there, to my sponsors:

-Epic Kayaks, thank you so much for your on-going support and providing me with a ski wherever around the world I go. To be    able to paddle the V10L GT is incredible. It is a little over 8kg’s and is very responsive especially catching runners. I absolutely  loved paddling it and cannot wait to be able to show it off to everyone back home!

-SOS rehydrate, thanks for keeping me hydrated during training and racing it’s the best hydration I have used and definitely  makes a difference with performance and keeping hydrated.

-Balance Sports Nutrition thanks for the best of the best NZ made nutritional products. My favourite product is the gels and the  fuel to go bar. They taste delicious and are exactly what I need during a long session or during racing.

-Sharkskin, thanks for providing me with training gear it has truly kept me warm during the winter of NZ! I love the rapid dry  top during those chilly/windy days too.

-Pita Pit, thank you for your support and providing me with healthy made pitas!

-Orewa Massage Worx, thanks Roger for your on-going support over the past years with regular massages.

– Also to Meek paddles, Fergs Kayaks, DRS Aquatic Race Gear & The Recovery Lounge thank you all for your on-going support  and helping me get to where I am today.

Happy paddling

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Poor Knights Crossing

Poor Knights Crossing

Four weeks out from the ICF World Surf Ski Champs in Tahiti and every week is crucial With a month to go the Poor Knights Crossing was a great hit out to race in. The race was a 30km Ocean downwind paddle from Ngunguru beach finishing in a World Famous cave on Aorangi Island.

We drove up to Ngungru on the Friday and man is it a beautiful place of New Zealand up there! Weather wasn’t too nice with a winter chill to the air.

Saturday = race day, an 11am start from Ngunguru Beach. We all arrived at the beach all ready to race, there was some tough competition in the Men’s field including World Series leader Michael Booth, World Series paddler Mark Anderson and all time legend Dean Gardiner and NZ’s fastest men Epic Ambassador Sam Mayhew, Andy Mowlem, Garth Spencer and Tim Mclaren just to name a few of the top guns! There were also some top outrigger paddlers that came along for the race. We has live tracking devices attached to our ski’s which was awesome for people at home to watch the race live!

My race plan was pretty simple, get a good start and find a male to stick with for as long as I can, then use my strength and maintain that for the 30km. At 11:00AM we lined up in the estuary mouth of Ngunguru and we were off! I had an awesome start and managed to sit on the wash of Tim Mclaren for about the first 500m which put me in a good position. Tim then surged away and I couldn’t stick with him. As we went out the estuary mouth it was quite choppy with a few waves breaking. We had to go around a boat which was situated about 5km tout to sea of the estuary mouth. I was feeling really strong and my technique was on form. As we turned the boat we headed straight towards Aorangi Island about 25km away. It was a pretty tricky downwind as the swell was heading more along the coast with the wind heading towards the island. For me I love those type of conditions and felt in my element. I made sure I maintained good hydration throughout the race and also using a couple of Balance energy gels. It was pretty crazy in the middle of the ocean and everyone was so spread out not being able to see anyone else. At that point it’s a true mental game of finishing the race. I got to about 5km to go and really tried to pick up the pace. It was awesome conditions and when you looked down at your GPS and saw you were going 22km/h at times it’s a pretty incredible feeling. I approached the finish and saw the cave to the right hand side with the finish timing boat inside and sprinted to the finish. This finish was truly amazing, not many races out there do you get to finish inside a cave of an island being one on New Zealand’s most famous diving spots!

Overall I finished the race 13th and was the 1st female. The top three men were Michael Booth, Mark Anderson and Dean Gardiner. It was a great hit out before World Champs and good Ocean downwind paddling.

Thanks to Tim Eves for organising the event and all the volunteers. I would highly recommend this race to all paddlers out there it is a blast!

Happy paddling

How I get my extra kick of energy on race day

Whilst training on the water one of my all time favourites are the Balance Energy Gels (caffeine). The gel gives you a carbohydrate (simple sugars) boost plus added electrolytes vital for maintaining fuel balance. The gel provides energy fast to help ensure the ultimate performance from your body.

The Balance gels are great for endurance athletes who need that extra boost or kick of energy.

I love the gels as they’re easy to carry along with you weather it be overseas in your bag or carrying with you in training and racing.  The gel is easy to open and also tastes great! An example of when I use the gels is during a 20-30km race. I’d have one about 20 minutes before the race start with some water I would have a second gel about 10-15km’s into the race for that extra kick. I keep the second gel just in the front of my PFD (lifejacket) or tucked into my shorts. Remember to take in some water with the gel for ultimate performance.

Check out the gels and other Balance products here: http://www.balancesportsnutrition.com/products/endurance/endurance-product-details/_prod_/BALANCE-ENERGY-GEL-CAFFEINE?productlistPCMID=715&productListCategories=7