Mid Winter Escape – North American Tour

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!

Happy paddling

North America Part 1

 

The America Journey Part 1

Well after a long 12 1/2 hour flight direct to San Francisco Sam and I have made it here to the big USA. The flight was long but we were able to get a few hours sleep in on the flight. Upon landing in San Fran we had about an 8 hour stop over before flying out to Portland so we decided to check out some shops! It was my first time being in San Fran and it was pretty crazy, shops galore.. true shopping dream! After a few hours looking round the city we then headed back to the airport to hop on a short flight to Portland, getting to our accommodation near midnight.

We had a day in Portland to check out a few things. One of the highlights would definitely be the Nike World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Imagine a university campus just for Nike. It had all the courts, fields, tracks, you could ever dream of as an athlete, let alone the named carpark’s for the famous Nike athletes for their use, and Lake Nike!

After spending a day in Portland we then headed into the Hood River where our the North American Champs & World Series race is held. The Hood river is the surf ski dream, a river with winds cranking down the river against current for tanking waves daily. For the entire week of the race the organisers have put on a shuttle service where paddlers load their ski’s on the trailer and they drop you off at a point in the river and have an awesome downwind back. These shuttles run every 20-30 minutes for about 5 hours in the afternoon! Sam and I got our boats all set up and jumped on the 1PM shuttle. It took us about 14km’s up the river. We jumped on our skis and was immediately amazed at the conditions. Crazy downwind, averaging about 16km/p smiling and thinking this is why we love surf ski paddling! It was really good to have a paddle on part of the race course and check out the conditions of the river.

The race has a three day window, Wednesday – Friday, after a race organisers meeting last night the race has been confirmed for Thursday due to the winds slowly dying after that. The race is a approx 20km paddle down the Hood River that we have been training on. Personally I like a bit of a longer race but am definitely up for the challenge. The race is looking like a hot field with a strong mens start list and also a strong women’s field which is good to see!

Pre Race day – Wednesday. Today Sam and I are going to have a nice downwind pre warmup on a section just before the race course but will be apart of the Relay course later in the week. After that we are going to check out the famous waterfalls along the Gorge!

RACE TIP:

Pre, During and Post racing I like to keep hydrated, for this I use SOS rehydrate. It tastes great and is a pure form of electrolyte hydration that helps combat dehydration. They come in easy to use sachets and are so easy to take away to events or but in your bag. Check out SOS here: https://sosrehydrate.com/

Until next time,

HAPPY PADDLING 🙂

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2014 Police Sportsperson of the Year

One of the highlights for me in the past month was being awarded the 2014 Police Sports Person of the Year. This is  a very prestigious and sort after award. I was up against some very tough nominations and never thought I would have won. It is definitely a huge honour to win this award!

On Tuesday the 23rd of June the award was presented to me by Police association president Greg O’connor. It was awesome to have all my collages, partner, family and friends there. After the formal presentation there were drinks and nibbles and time to chat with everyone that came to support me.

2014 was a huge year for me including the following highlights:

– Molokai Surf Ski World Champion

– NZ Surf Ski Queen of the Harbour

– Australian Surf Ski Champion

– The Doctor Surf Ski Champion

– NZ Surf Lifesaving tube rescue champion

Thank you to everyone who has supported me including sponsors, Partner – Sam, friends, family, collages. I couldn’t be where I am today without you all.

Happy paddling 🙂

Rach

Road to America – June 2015 Update

Training has been full on over the past two months picking up the intensity of the sessions and really trying to get a long downwind in each week. With the weather getting cooler and sun going down at about 5:30pm it’s really hard to fit in the water sessions in without running out of light or your hands and toes freezing! Over the past couple of months Sam and I have really been concentrating on my technique and trying to be as efficient as possible within my stroke. Just the slightest tweak to my stroke and I feel like I have much more connection with the water and my stroke. Technique is one of those things your can always improve on no matter what level of paddling your at. We have had a really good group of paddlers training together for the key sessions each week which makes the session a lot more fun having other people to paddle with. As well as paddling i’ve been doing two gyms a week and 2-3 runs a week and 1 fun day weather it be surfing or going for a swim in the pool.

Well it’s just under 4 weeks until we head over to the US for some racing! I’m really excited as i’ve never been to the US before. One thing for sure is that it will be warmer than here in NZ! The first race we head over for is the North American Champs which are held in the Hood River, Oregon. This is also the 9th World Series Race in the 2015 World Series. This race is a 21.5km downwind race down the famous Hood river attracting paddlers from all over the world. The river is renowned for its amazing downwind conditions. We then leave the Hood River and head down to San Francisco for the US Surf Ski Champs, also the 10th World Series Race. The US Champs is a 25km race from Rodeo Beach down the famous San Fran harbour finishing at Berkeley. The following day there is a Double’s race which Sam and I will be racing in too! Pretty exciting stuff!! This race will attract all the top paddlers in the World and it is certainly one to tick off for many paddlers.

Preparing for two major World Series races within 1 week of each other is tough. Recovery is defiantly going to be very important as well as good nutrition and hydration. One of my all time favourites for recovery is the 100% whey protein from Balance Sports Nutrition. Its NZ made an tastes great! Check out their products here: http://www.balancesportsnutrition.com/products/fuel-and-recovery

Until next time, happy paddling,

Rach

The first World Series of 2015 – King and Queen of the Harbour

After a number of years the World Surf Ski Series makes it way back to New Zealand with Race #1 kicking off in Auckland better known as king and Queen of the Harbour. I was pretty excited to have such a huge race in Auckland attracting international paddlers!

I was looking forward to this race to see where I was at and what things I needed to improve on. The race date had a 2 day window open as March the 7th and 8th for best weather conditions. About a week leading up to the race the conditions were looking absolutely AWESOME and local paddlers were hoping Windguru would stay true to it’s predictions. The line up for the first world series was looking tough with a few international paddlers making the trip over. I had been trying to get as much downwind training as I could but there was a chance that the race could be dead flat so I had to try to prepare for any type of conditions. We had a good group of local paddlers training together preparing for the race which was awesome.

Race day – perfect northerly conditions with 27 knot wind gusts and a nice 22 degrees. The course was decided to start at Gulf Harbour and finishing at Royal Akarana Yacht Club a 27km race. There was also an out-going tide to take into consideration with the channel. 11am and the race had started, quickly within the first 30 seconds two main groups were formed, one heading out to the channel towards Rangitoto Island and the other closer to land. I was in the group to the left further out to sea. At this stage there weren’t many runners and it was just a pack of about 20 paddlers on wash. After about 10 minutes I noticed how far out to sea we were. At this point I made the decision to cut in slightly closer to land. I was unsure if I had made the right decision but had to back myself and go with it. Within about 20 minutes the runners were awesome! I stayed quite close to shore to keep out of the current. I then cut in even closer approaching North Head. Once I reached North Head I knew it was about 2.5kms until the finish. I felt quite good at this stage so really dug deep and finished hard. I crossed the line not knowing how I did as were were very spread out. I then found out that I was the first female to finish. I was so happy with this result and the way I paddled in the tricky conditions.

The men’s top three were Sean Rice, Mike Walker and Garth Spencer and in the Women’s field was myself, Teneale Hatton and Dean Simpson.

Next race in the World Series for myself and Sam Mayhew is at the Hood River, Oregon, USA, until then a lot of things to improve on!

Happy paddling 🙂

2014, What a year!

Well, where to start! 2014 was a year of many highlights for me.

It kicked off with the NZ King and Queen of the Harbour in March . The race is NZ’s premier ocean paddling race which attracts paddlers all over NZ and a few international paddlers. The race was held in Auckland with the start from North Shore’s Birkenhead Wharf 25km’s down Auckland Harbour to Waiheke Island. There was no wind at all and was a long flat race! the only thing to negotiate was the current in the channel. I had an awesome race and came home with the win in the female field making it my second year in a row to be crowned Queen of the Harbour.

Next on the list was the Molokai Surf Ski World Champs in May. This is one of the most gruelling races one can do consisting of a 53km paddle from the island of Molokai to Oahu across one of the worlds most dangerous channels, ‘the channel of bones’. Race day we had light winds and a hot 28 degrees to paddle with.  The race took me 4 hours and 33 minutes. About 35kms into the race I hit a wall and mentally felt like I wasn’t going to be able to finish, my hands were blistered and I began to get dehydrated. Once I approached China wall with about 8km’s to go I found a extra gear and powered to the finish line. I went into the race with no expectations as it was by far the furthest race I had ever done.I ended up winning the women’s race by 12 minutes and was crowned the 2014 Molokai Surf Ski World Champion.

After Molokai I came home and had about 2 weeks with no specific training to let my body recover also to give myself a break from training mentally. In July I found out I had to get my knee operated on. I had IT band fatigue syndrome this is where the IT band is so tight it flicks over the bone causing an excruciating pain. The surgery left me out of action for about 6-7 weeks. Once my knee recovered I was back in action and ready to get on the water!

Next on the list was ‘The Doctor’ a classic downwind race of 29km’s from Rottnest Island to Sorrento Beach in Perth held in November. Sam Mayhew (partner and fellow paddler) and I headed over about a week prior to he race to get used to the downwind conditions we could have on race day. We had a clinic with the legend Clint Robinson and learned a lot. Race day came along and the conditions were pumping, best downwind conditions any paddler could ask for! Overall the race was an absolute BLAST! We both had so much fun catching the runners and completely forgot we were racing. I won the women’s race by about 4 minutes and Sam had a awesome race for his first major international ocean paddling race with a hot men’s field. The race was incredible and would recommend it to anyone.

Next race on the list was the Australian National Champs, ’20 beaches’ held in December. Sam and I decided to head over for the well known race in Sydney.This race is a 25km race along 20 coastal beach of Sydney, however extreme swells closed the beaches and was too rough to paddle out through surf break from the planned start line from the 10-15ft swells. Race directors changed the course to head out through a port alley into the ocean. Although there was a course change the swells were still huge once out in the ocean hitting 5 metre swells. I had an awesome race finishing 1st female.

2014 was an awesome year for me and one of the highlights was partnering up with Epic Kayaks. I paddle the V10L model which is a lower volume surf ski and I love it. The V10L is for the lighter paddler that weigh’s up to 80kg’s. One thing I love about my Epic is how comfy the seat is! No dead legs or a sore bum on a long paddle because it’s so comfy! Epic have many different models for every paddler. For more about Epic check out their website,  http://www.epickayaks.com

Happy paddling!