Mid Winter Escape – North American Tour
With NZ in the middle of Winter, training was a mighty struggle in the cold, wind, rain and darkness so the North American races came as a perfect opportunity to break out of the winter slump and give me the boost I need going forward into World Champs in Tahiti in a couple of months time.
First up was the Gorge (Hood River) downwind race, also a World Series Race. The week leading up to the race was amazing, shuttles daily for a 5 hour period! What more could a paddler want! Then the race window came along. The race was initially planned for Friday but the winds were looking at dropping Friday/Saturday so the organisers moved it to Thursday with the Relay Friday. This was no issue for me as I had been expecting to race between Wednesday and Friday. Race day – pure downwind for 26km’s. The river itself is very tactical due to currents. We started the race at about 2pm and Men and Women went off together. I had a really good start and was feeling really good for about 4km’s. I then seemed to hit a wall and felt really flat for the duration of the race. I definitely picked some wrong lines in the river and that hindered my race. Upon finishing the race I was relieved it was over! I managed to still finish third in the women’s filed. I was really upset on how I went but had to remember I had just come out of a hard training block with no taper and no racing since March. The next day we had the Wildside Relay, a 40km downwind 2 person relay along the Gorge. Fellow NZ Epic paddler and partner Sam Mayhew and I teamed up to do the mixed teams race. It was one crazy stressful race! Whilst one team member was paddling the other person would drive to the next transition point and change over. Sam and I managed to take 2nd in the mixed teams race and 10th overall!The Gorge is an awesome place to paddle and would highly recommend it as a race to attend!
On the Urban Adventuring side of the menu – The Hood River is a pretty amazing place, one of my highlights (to list just a few, so many to list all) was checking out the incredible waterfalls in the Gorge – Definitely a place to visit! Back in Portland, Oregan, the Nike World HQ was amazing also.
Next on the list was the US Champs, another World Series Race in San Francisco. This race is one of the most iconic surf ski races out there. Starting at Rodeo Beach and then heading under the Golden Gate Bridge, paddling around Alcatraz Island and finishing at Berkeley Marina. Race day came along on Saturday so I had a good week to recover from the last race in the Gorge (not including the local race on Wednesday night I did which I managed to take 1st in!). Race day – The sun was shining and we were all ready for a hard race. The race started at about 2pm the wind wasn’t as strong as I expected it to be. It was about 2 km’s of paddling parallel to the beach before we turned into the harbour. Slowly the wind started to pick up and we started doing some surfing! From the the start to the Golden Gate bridge, and then to Alcrataz it was quite hard work. The tide was going out to sea and the winds were light. Once passing Alcrataz the wind picked up and it was awesome downwind all the way to Berkeley Again I finished off in 3rd place in the Women’s field. I was happy with my race but definitely have some things to improve on. The following day was the double’s race where I teamed up with Sam and we raced in the mixed double. It was an awesome slightly shorter race from Fort Baker to Berkeley Marina, approx 17km’s. Sam and I got 2nd in the mixed double category and we both were happy with our race considering how tired we were after all the racing, travelling and adventuring!
Overall 5 races in 10 days was just what the doctor ordered to kick start my training for World Champs in Tahiti!!
Some of the Urban Adventuring highlights for me in San Fran was all the sightseeing I got to see of this amazing city, and surfing mavericks!
Finally I would like to thank Kenny Howell from Epic Kayaks for all the help you have done for Sam and myself. To the USA Epic Team, were have such an awesome team and it was good to meet you all. My sponsors Epic Kayaks, Fergs Kayaks, Meek Paddlers, Balance Sports Nutrition,SOS rehydrate, Sharkskin, Orewa Massage Worx and also my friends and Family who have supported me in every way to get here!
Back to training for World Champs!