Heading away on my North American venture, unfortunately Sam couldn’t attend with me due to work and we just bought a home so someone need’s to stay home and unlucky for Sam that was him! I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with fellow Epic paddler and friend from Australia, Ryan Paroz and his mum Marion. I jetted off on a night flight direct to Vancouver, smooth flying in the sky only to have a 2 1/2 hour wait for my oversize bag due to the machine breaking. Straight from the airport down to Deep Cove, North Vancouver for a light flush out paddle. Ryan did the local 6km Joe’s vs Pro’s race. Wednesday – Friday consisted of a couple of fine tuning paddles, clinics avo on toast and of course a few coffee’s! Thursday morning we drove up to the race location of Squamish with the beautiful mountains in the distance. Saturday came around quickly and it was race day. I was feeling really good, the wind however was looking not so good, but I guess that’s why I do a lot of my training in flat water, because you’ll be prepared for it when the wind doesn’t come ;-)! 2pm came around and the race had started, the women started with the men so it’s awesome trying to get on a male’s wash. I had a great start on the right hand side. I was feeling really good on the way out to the hot spot boy approximately 2kms from the start, I noticed fellow NZ paddler Teneale on the outside about 4 paddlers away from me, I was in the inside, I approached the hot spot boy and there was a double next to me that turned right quite sharply, I yelled out “give me room” as they did this I came in line with the bouy which was sitting on the front of a boat causing me to nearly collide with the boat. I looked to my left and thought WOW, that was close but definitely thought I got to & turned the bouy first female. I acerbated out of the turn and it was like catching little speed humps! I controlled my breathing and got into rhythm. The bumps were like speed humps almost slowing me down. Before we knew it we were approaching the final 5km stretch, at this point I was sitting in 3rd spot. I felt like I was going for a training paddle and couldn’t really get into the total race mode. I was about 40sec behind 2nd place and remained that distance until the finish. I was happy to come away with 3rd in the conditions we had, I have definitely raced better here in Canada and look forward to next year!
The following day it was an early morning rise with a 7am international flight which meant a very early wake up call and drive into the airport! Before I knew it after a little nap on the flight I had landed in Portland, OR, thanks to Mr & Mrs Vaikobi and their 2 lovely children I was able to catch a ride to Hood River with them. That week then consisted of awesome down winding, clinics and relaxing in a cool little funky town! This was my 4th time back in the Hood River and I love the vibe. Race day had been scheduled for Friday with the winds looking very good. It’s always different in this river in different parts of the course where the wind dies, becomes stronger, tactics on where side to go or do you gun it down the middle if the wind is pumping?! Throughout the week I had a bit of practice and we tried different parts of the river, I thought it was definitely fastest to go to the right hand side prior to Viento then hunt down that side until popping out to the island where you have to come to the middle (as in previous years also) so this was my race plan! Race day came around and I was excited for what was to come, wind looked good and I felt good too! Gun went and the women were away, I had a good start where as did Teneale & young paddler Ana Swetish, we were charging down the river, Teneale pulled ahead approximately 4kms into the race, I stuck to my plan and slowly ventured to the right hand side, upon doing this I pulled up right in-line with her, ‘great’ I thought to myself, I was in line and slowly pulling ahead at about 12kms, then all of a sudden she pulled right ahead and it was like I was standing still, I thought to myself ‘stick to the plan’ and I did but she kept on pulling away and remained about 200m ahead for the duration of the race, in this case possibly I should have gone to the middle and sterilised my downwind skills more to gain on her, but I backed my plan that at the end of the day possibly wasn’t the right decision! I finished in 2nd place, Ana in 3rd and Australia’s Jordan Mercer in 4th. Close racing and very tactical! I look forward to next year and being more open to my race plan!
Thankyou to Ryan & Marion for allowing me to venture with the both of you during this North American trip, I can’t thank you both enough!
Next up is the World Champs in Brittany, France!