Last Race of the Season - The one I trained all year for!

By Jim on Monday, May 3, 2010


The last Ocean Ski Race of the year in Australia has been run and won and now it is over everyone will begin to ask themselves several questions. How do I improve next year, how much training am I going to do and what are my goals going to be in the next twelve months.

The last race on the Australian circuit for 2009 was the 20 beaches, a 25km downwind race from Sydney’s famous Manly Beach to Palm Beach in the north. Our own Tony Schumacher came in 3rd - read his comments in his latest 'Follow a Dream' update.

Competitors faced a couple early questions on the morning of the race – namely would the wind blow up any swell or would it be a straight paddle with no assistance from Mother Nature? As a result all paddlers had to review their race plans. With no assistance from the ocean the race would be longer so one would have to consider taking more fluids onboard. Luckily for all competitors Mother Nature was kind. Twenty minutes before the start a S/SE wind started blowing and gained strength throughout the race.

By the halfway mark at Long Reef the conditions were perfect. The S/SE wind blew straight to the point at Palm Beach and for those who had read our blog on choosing your line, there would of been no problems with this. The runners weren’t too steep but paddlers surfing skills were tested when it came to getting the most out of each swell.

Eventual winner Jeremy Cotter was in fine form with the chop chasing from the very start, which paved the way for a fantastic win. Jeremy showed a real knack of lifting the rating to catch the runners and then backing off and steering into the steepest part of the swell. This allowed him to rest whilst riding the swell and conserver energy. The top three placegetters in the race, Jeremy, Murray Stewart and Tony Schumacher as well as women’s winner Kirsty Holmes, all did this to perfection. Their ability to work hard when they needed to and rest on a moving swell really helped them cover the coarse in fine style.

The main thing that I noticed in the race was that the racing started from the minute competitors hit the water. Lots of paddlers did not get to the start line on time and as a result missed the start - some by as much as 600m.

Small things like this are so important as they make you panic at the very start. When you panic you waste so much energy. The last thing an inexperienced paddler wants to do is be panicking from a silly mistake like missing the start. Combine that with the nervous energy you would have from thinking about the race all morning and you would be close to exhaustion before you start.

If you are tired early your technique will falter very early and this could lead to many things including:

  • Falling off
  • Possible small strain Injury
  • Loss of confidence
  • Most important of all - NO ENJOYMENT

When choosing your goal for the season make sure it is realistic. Pick a race like the 20 beaches that has lots of prestige and lots of competitors. This way you will have lots of people of the same ability to compare yourself with.

Start by working out how much time you realistically have to dedicate to your training. Find the balance in your life that will let you stay consistent over the whole twelve months. When you stay consistent you will see improvement. Look for new training methods that keep you motivated – as a starting point check out our cross-training podcast for some great training ideas.

It is important to get help with your technique and boat run as this will help you get faster and the most important thing of all to remember is to ENJOY IT.

Be sure to check out the 20 Beaches photo gallery below.

Yours in Paddling,

Jim Walker