Monday, 16 June 2008


With a very solid southerly blowing yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd head out on my normal 12.5km training paddle to see how far I would get. Paddling up the Cooks River, protected by the breakwall, I didn't feel that things were too blowy, but once out onto the expanse of Botany Bay the headwind was immediately noticeable. Observations from the time I was out paddling show a steady 26-28 knots, with gusts up to 38 knots. My normal 8.7km/h exercise pace on the flat, windless bay was reduced to 2.5-3km/h, with the bigger gusts reducing me to zero (as read on my GPS), or actually pushing me backwards. It's rather unnerving to be paddling at your normal tempo & actually heading back to where you started.... I can only image what Stu, Andrew & Laurie must have experienced when they were hit with the katabatic winds in Antarctica.
The other thing a headwind like that does is whip up a relentless sea. I reckon there were consistent waves of up to 1m, about 3 seconds apart, constantly bashing into my bow, further hampering forward progress. All of this action does to tend to focus your concentration however, & when I checked my watch expecting 20 minutes to have elapsed, it was actually near enough to an hour. I figured I would paddle a further 10 minutes (to a grand total of 3km in total), then turn around. The 3km or so that had taken me 85 minutes to cover into the headwind, took a total of 13 minutes on the way back, as I flew along surfing the short-sharp wind waves which had so hampered my forward progress.
The lesson for me was one about forward progress once things get towards 30knots. Basically forget it.

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