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.