G'day everyone, I hope you all had a good Christmas and enjoyable new year.
This time of year I always tend to relax a bit with my training and enjoy the time with friends and family without having the added pressure of maintaining a strict training program. This year was especially enjoyable relaxing with the recent birth of my daughter Shenae. I remember just after the birth of my son Jack a few years ago I found it hard to maintain focus on training so the timing for Shenae worked nicely!
Two weeks ago I traveled to Victoria for the Outlaw race and finished 2nd to Dean Gardiner. What I learnt there was that I have a lot to learn about surfing the ocean. Dean gave me a good lesson there! With not to far to go (in the 25km race) I was in striking distance of him and was feeling pretty good but then before I knew it Dean had lifted another gear and took off beating me quite convincingly. The strange thing was that I didn't actually think I did anything wrong or missed any runners. Dean just has this amazing ability to surf the swells a little further each time.
I have been working on my chop chasing though and I am getting a better feel of staying on top of the runner rather then moving down the face of them. By staying on top of the swell with my bow staying slightly pointed down, it is definitely easier to maneuver the ski into the holes when they develop in front of you. If you run down the face to early, your ski will simply bury into the wave in front and you will be limited in where you can manouvre your ski.
I then went to Perth for 'The Doctor' World Cup event. On the Sunday I managed to win the Mixed teams relay, teaming up with Kirsty Holmes. I won't bore you with the details with this race, all I will say is that it was raced in extremely hot dry conditions (43'C) and we had to paddle into a head wind. It would be close to being the most uncomfortable race I have done. Still it was good to do and win!
On the Saturday in the main event I finished 11th. Surprisingly enough though I was quite pleased with the way I paddled. I believe it was more a tactical error rather then paddling performance that placed me this far back. Due to off shore winds, the race was reversed and raced from Fremantle to Rottnest and before the start I went out to suss out the conditions and found the wind at this time to be blowing a strong north easter. I decided at this point that I was going to forego the hot spot and immediately push north so as to take advantage of the north easter later in the race when the runners were bigger.
Once the race started it was apparent that Murray Stewart, Tim Jacobs and Kurt Tutt also had this same idea and we all headed slightly north. With the rest of the field heading straight out towards Rottnest Island they were obviously building a small lead as we were paddling off line and they were taking a direct route. I was prepared for this happen but also knew we had to stay in touch with them so that our wind advantage could close the gap late in the race.
After about 8 or so kilometers I was very pleased with how I was going. I only had Tim about 30m in front of me and I could only see Jeremy Cotter and Dawid Mocke in front of him but they were obviously about 500 or 600m south. Things were looking good until the time came for us to turn slightly south and start heading towards the finish line. It appeared that our wind advantage was no longer and that the wind had actually swung a lot more east and worst of all the swells were pushing up from the south.
So where I thought I would start to have an advantage over the guys south of me it now appeared that this advantage no longer existed and infact those guys probably had the better of the conditions.
In the end with about 1km to go about 10 guys all in the space of about 50m appeared around me. I still don't know wehere they came from! There was then a frantic dash to line where I managed to get past Hank McGreggor but unfortunately ended up in 11th. But like I said at the top I was happy with the way I raced and enjoyed the race at the same time.
Interesting to note that Tim Jacobs adn Murray Stewart who have been excelling in the World Cups this year also only manged average results finishing 8th and 9th respectively showing that our line simply did not work.
Another interesting point is that on my GPS I paddled 19.25km where as Dawid Mocke, the winner of the race (and who took a direct line) only covered 18.8km. This wasn't suprising since I knew I had deviated in the first half of the race but it shows that sometimes it is simply better to go in a straight line rather then trying to follow predicted wind paths. The extra distance would not have been a problem if the wind remained a true north easter because I would have been coming home a lot faster on my line but the swing in wind direction and southerly swell did me no favours and obviously nobody can afford to give away 400+ meters to their competitors. These guys are almost impossible to beat as it is!