|Rambo at the start - his videos were my original inspiration for wanting a ski.|
But, late Spring is always a ridiculously busy time with family & business, and rather lamely, I've never managed to get my stuff in one pile to set aside some time to give this great race a crack.
|SUP Start at Freshwater Beach|
My mate Stacka volunteered to do the car shuffling, so I was sorted.
A flaky forecast for days in advance meant we were unsure of whether this downwind race would go from Palm Beach or Freshwater, but the early arrival of a strong southerly system settled the debate on Friday evening, & Freshie it was.
We turned up at midday to find the whole area around Harbord SLSC buzzing, hundreds of skis, SUPs & Outriggers running through preparations on the grass behind the dunes.
At 1pm we moved onto the beach where the organisers announced a beach start, in knee deep water. The southerly was wrapping around Blue Fish point & giving the false impression of an easterly breeze, so the first wave of SUP & Outriggers went off into a decent headwind & choppy wind waves.
Our start was scheduled for 1:30pm, and as a group of probably 200 skis we made our way into the shore break to await the hooter. It was a damn impressive field, with pretty much every contemporary Aussie ski champ on the line, along with superstars like Grant Kenny, Oscar & Dean Gardner, all very humbling.
|The (unintentional) staggered start|
The start was frantic, punching out through the small surf & stiff breeze to the first turning can, then a left turn & away.
The 6km section to Long Reef was dominated by rear quartering conditions, still great fun but reasonably technical. Once wide enough on Long Reef I turned and lined up Bangalley Head and away I went. There were occasional small sections where the headlands threw back some bumps but mostly it was just runner after runner after runner, probably as good a set of conditions for a ski as you could hope to have.
|Some fun & games in the beach break at the finish|
|My last wave....|
|The way the pro's finish....|
|Presentation ceremony at Palm Beach Surf Club|
The race was jointly won by Jeremy Cotter & Tim Jacobs. Cotter was first across the line, but TJ had stopped not long after the start, whilst leading, to render assistance to a struggling fellow competitor & set off a flare to alert a rescue craft. So, without any formal redress for lost time (he was still only marginally off the leaders at the finish), the organisers decided that the spirit of ski paddling was more important than a scientific result, and made the concession to Tim for effecting a rescue. Great stuff I thought, kudos to all involved in the decision.
|Just to top off a perfect arvo on the sea....|
The video above hopefully captures some of the magic of the Twenty Beaches, from my perspective watching most of it from some ways back in the field. On a sobering note, if I look like I'm working hard & getting a few decent runs, remember that my top speed over the 25km, was only marginally higher that the average speed of the winners!
Congrats to the organisers & all paddlers involved, and thanks to Stacka the Attacka for the ride & the advice. Next year we should both be on the water.
|Haven't quite managed to lose this smile....|