Monday, 19 April 2010

Racing....

Taking the bait from fellow ski novice Stacka, I lined up on Sunday morning for the inaugural Rose Bay Challenge, primarily a ski race around a 15km course on Sydney Harbour. Apart for the Hawkesbury Classic, I've never been in any form of race so it was a new experience for me, and the organisers had drawn some of the big guns of the ocean racing series to take part. Checking the forecast beforehand, I thought I'd give my Rapier a blast instead of the ski, due to the very light conditions, & the fact that the Rapier is a faster boat on flatter water.
Stacka - 'Come on Sundo I dare ya...'
So after some tips & advice from Max Walker before the gun - get onto someone's wash & stay there - I lined up with about 130 other paddlers for the start. Lesson 1, this is not a Wednesday morning paddle where you have the luxury of pacing yourself from the beginning and easing into a rhythm. The start was huge fun, wash everywhere, paddlers jockeying for a spot, zig-zagging across in front of me, heaps of stuff to concentrate on, foot down & go as fast as you can! Lesson 2, if you tear out of the blocks like all the supermen in the field, because you're just having such a great time in the excitement of it all you'll very quickly hit a big wall... 
Apart from the fact that I was knackered after 10 minutes, I was regretting my decision to take the Rapier - the over the back rudder was nowhere near as efficient at grabbing the little wash rides as the super-responsive rudders on the skis. I was going fast when I got into a rhythm, but it was much harder to get into a rhythm in the mess in a boat designed to cruise very quickly, rather than get down & dirty in the mayhem of a ski race.
Anyway, I slugged it out for just under 90 minutes to finish the 15km course averaging just on 10kmh, a bit slower than I've been managing over 12.5km on Wednesday mornings. Lacking the 'ringcraft' and rudder system to properly wash ride made a huge difference to my time. Clearly there is more to this racing caper than having a good forward stroke & fitness, but by hell they help! 
Trying to cut it with the ski's....Image Ian Fevre
I'd say I finished in the bottom 30% of the field which is about where I expected to be first up. I'm not sure I'm, sold on the idea of this sort of flat water racing, if you could call the wash chop at the start flat water. The ocean series starting in September, where the aim is to ride down wind on the sea most of the time, looks like a lot more fun. If I'm not getting any assistance from wind & waves my dodgy conditioning is shown up very badly! My ancestors didn't paddle single boats on flat water, they rode great canoes on the wild ocean, and they had about 40 cousins to help them out...
It was great to experience a different paddle culture, one where fitness, technique & competitiveness (even if it is against yourself) rule. Watching the eventual winner Tim Jacobs cruise past me at about 15kmh was worth the entry fee alone. Man that guy can go - picture perfect forward stroke at a cadence which would generate enough energy to power a small city.  
Tim Jacobs
There is one more race left in the series at Pittwater on May 8. You can get to the race info page through www.epickayaks.net.au.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Canberra Demo Day, Sunday May 2

We're bringing a good selection of our range of kayaks down to Canberra on Sunday May 2, for one of our famous instruction-laced demo paddling days. The arrival of the Tahe Marine & Zegul boats has created a lot of interest & this will be the first opportunity for anyone in the country to try them all out in the one place.
If you're interested in coming along let us know, likewise if there's a particular boat you'd like to paddle drop us a line so we're sure to put it on the trailer. Unlike past years we have a large selection of excellent high terminal hull speed, 'Lake BG' boats in the range, including the Zeguls, Wind 585 & Rapier 20 as well as our beautiful & engaging British boats.
Our scouts in Canberra have recommended Yarralumla Bay next to the designated swimming zone, map below. 
We'll be there from 10am - 3pm but please let us know if you plan on coming down, as we'd like an idea of numbers for safety etc.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Beau Miles - Africa by Kayak




We had the pleasure of seeing Beau Miles present his amazing film, Africa by Kayak, at this year's Rock & Roll weekend. 
Beau is one of those 'make it happen' adventurers who manage to turn a dream into an expedition, a bit of a character with a very honest approach to his exploits.
In 2007, Australian Beau attempted to paddle a sea kayak from one side of Africa to the other. Hand in hand as filmmaking and expedition project, a state-of-the-art, HD camera was mounted to the bow of his 15 foot kayak. The journey would follow the coastline for over 4000 kilometers, through 3 diverse, often volatile countries. Mostly solo and unsupported, Beau had allowed five months. That was the plan.
Malaria, cyclonic weather, massive swell, freak waves, enigmatic locals and constant corruption, is back dropped with typical adventure, hardship and reward. All on film, it returns to the basics of expedition travel and shows that true, modern day adventures are still out there.  

As a paddler, the idea of 30 days paddling a remote coastline with vertebrae crushing surf, a big landing & launch at every sunset & sunrise is about the most committing thing I can imagine. I remarked to Beau after the film that it was the sort of trip you'd only do in your 20's! Add to that the logistical nightmare of negotiating his Australis Kayak through corrupt customs, visas which expired before countries coastlines were finished, and the terrible impact the disappearance of Andrew McAuley had on Beau, happening as it did during a tough period of his own trip, and you have a combination of big water surf survival & raw emotions.

Dates are below, and the show features not just an awesome adventure film, but live music as the soundtrack from the Animators. Get along if you can, it's one hell of a story.

Melbourne: Saturday May 15 
7pm at The Thornbury Theatre

Sydney: Friday May 21 
7pm at The Australian National Maritime Museum

Brisbane: Wednesday May 26th 
7pm at The Powerhouse Theatre