G’day Rob, Mark,
The Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge was a huge success for the organisers and competitors alike. The weather turned on a few clouds and a steady 10-12knotts for the 40 clicks from Palm Cove near Cairns to Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. The one foot closely spaced wind swell not allowing too much ‘relax’ time!
The field was capped at 50 craft for the inaugural event (expected 100 next year) and comprised OC 6’s, OC 2’s, OC singles and a ski category – not surprising that amongst the ocean and surf skis the only sea kayak was my Taran!
I had to laugh at the start line scene with the ski paddlers all standing three feet deep in the water while I steadied myself on the beach – lucky the water went deep quickly so just a few ‘seal flopping’ hand strokes and I was in the water and away thorough the shorey managing not to take anyone out!
I reckon we added a k or two to the total distance by first heading into the wind for the rounding of ‘Scouts Hat’ Island before putting the breeze behind us and ‘B’ lining for Port Douglas. After some cramps and fatigue in my last 50km down river white-water race I decided, for the first two hours, to happily cruise along with the blade set at 218cm, checking out a few sharks, turtles, stingrays and fish! I had the nearby company of a few ocean and surf skis. This changed at the 2 hour mark. I was well warmed up, the shoulder pain I had in previous races wasn’t and issue, hydration and food were good…it was time. I caught a nice runner and took the chance to lengthen my blade to 220cm and put the hammer down.
Wow, did the Taran respond! That little extra oompff and every runner became a rideable wave! The boats I was around couldn’t keep up! I was putting in yes, but the boat, oh the boat!!! I was astounded. It is some feeling when you are hooting to yourself out at sea while passing OC 6’s, doubles and singles, not to mention dropping ocean skis, while in a sea kayak!!! And I have the advantage of being able to drag lures whenever I want!
The day wrapped up for me in 3hrs25m. Pretty much spot on 12km/hr average. I used the standard rudder and carried mandatory equipment weighing roughly 5kg. My paddle was an ORKA Inner, medium blade. In relation to the other skis the Rockpool and I placed in the top third from a field of roughly 20 (official results not out yet). I was spent, super happy, and looking forward to lots more time in the Taran.
Plenty of interest in the boat. Massive interest in the event. Hopefully the next pics will be of hauling in a big fish and cooking it up on a remote island somewhere sometime.