Monday, September 17, 2012

9/16 - Bridge the Bank SUP Relay

Yesterday was the Bridge the Bank SUP relay on the Swan river.  Teams of two split the 13km course with the exchange point being at Point Walter Spit – the first leg was 8km and the second 5km though many of the boys from the first leg that continued on mentioned that the second leg was actually a harder paddle since there was more boat traffic to deal with.

Stimo and I partnered up… I remember back in early August just after I’d gotten back from my trip home – I was on my way home from crossfit one night and got a message from him telling me about this SUP race and that he wanted me to be his partner and that I could use his Dale Chapman (DC) board and he was really excited.  The very next message on my phone was also from him and he retreated a bit saying only if I wanted to be *his* partner.  It was really cute and we were on.  Once I got the name of the race, the date and knew all about it we were good to go.

I met up with Stimo and Dale Chapman (the man himself over from the east coast) at the finish line to drop off my car and we drove over to the start to unload boards and get race ready.  Note – if you’re the car at the finish line don’t leave your car keys in the truck left at the transition point (especially when your partner is racing the second half with you).

Team Cooee

Ready to race

We saw the boys off and headed to Point Walter and the timing was pretty tight.  As was trying to park.  I was driving Stimo’s monster truck - pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve ever driven a vehicle with six speeds before – and the only gear I actually needed to park was reverse and well, I couldn’t find it.  I mean, I knew where it *was* - up and to the left but I couldn’t get the truck into *that* gear.  I tried pushing down and over (like Volkswagens do), wiggling it a bit, stepping off and back on the clutch but nope.  No luck.  Thankfully, very thankfully there was a bit of sidewalk/curb that I could pull up onto and get out of the way of traffic (which by this point wasn’t too happy with me) and that’s where I parked.  Found out after that there is a little thing you need to pull *up* on in order to get into reverse.  Good to know for next time. 
Stimo and Galvo head off last on their long boards

The big truck

After the parking fiasco I ran to the toilets and on my way back saw Sal who told me that they could see the first boys coming in and we had about 10 minutes.  The rush was on.  Thankfully though it meant I didn’t have too much time to be nervous.  I grabbed the board and paddle, hid the key and headed to the middle of the spit.  Many people carried their boards there but I figured paddling would be much easier and it turned out it was all the warm up I was going to get.

Stimo came into the transition in about 5th place I think – right on the heels of Adam who was partnered with Jodie.  It turns out too that Jodie and I would be battling right to the very end.  Stimo paddled into the beach, in one swift move picked up his board, flew across the spit and in one motion – tagged me, dropped his board in the water and landed on it on his knees and flew in front of us.  I was a bit stunned but jumped on my board to go.  In hindsight I should have just been a little deeper and actually standing on my board ready to just paddle.

And we were off… Jodie and I left at about the same time and to be honest, the first part of the race was really hard for me.  Really hard.  It felt slow even though I had good rate and felt strong.  My shoulders started to hurt though, a lot and all I could think of was the 63 burpees from the WLC wod the previous day.   As we made the first turn (past Bicton Baths towards East Fremantle) Jodie started to pull away from me a bit and there was nothing I could do except keep going at my speed.  I also started thinking at this point that she was on Stimo’s DC14 – the board that I really love and wanted to paddle but because of how the race was handicapped (total combined board length times overall time) – Stimo’s math figured that me on his DC12.6 would be better as he was using his DC16.  So I stared at the board she was on and realized that I was doing okay even though she was more novice than be she was also on a more responsive board and therefore I actually had to work harder to keep the same pace as her so I was doing all right.

As we began to approach the marina on the south side of the river we got a lot of big boat traffic and wake and so (like I would do on a canoe) I hugged the break wall at the marina.  It was pretty messy water but I have pretty good balance and I was able to ride the backwash off of the wall which helped.  As we started the turn at east freo I found a lot of runners – it’s also where the tide line was – and started to reel Jodie in without even trying to.  I recalled my thoughts from Wildside where I just had to focus on my own race and not try and catch her but rather use the water and what was already working for me.  I passed her soon after that.  Her line proceeded to take her to the left bank whereas I took a more direct line to the finish and was pretty close to the right side of the river.  It got pretty messy in this section.  There were a lot of boats, big boats. 

Halfway down a 38’ boat cut in front of me rather than going around which on his part was really stupid given that I actually had right of way, he clearly saw us (Stimo was right with me) and easily could have gone in behind me.  I’m glad him cutting in front saved him those 30 seconds of getting into his berth sooner.  I’m also glad that he didn’t kill me in the process – getting eaten by a prop is not my idea of fun.  Anyway, he pulled across the front of me and was then on my left.  I wasn’t looking at him as all I could focus on was this white wall of water about to hit me and I knew I had to stay upright (again, that getting eaten part)… I do however know and Stimo confirmed – I could have reached out and actually touched his boat.  He was that close.  Idiot.  Seriously.  Now many of you non-paddlers are probably thinking – why didn’t I just stop? – well, that actually makes you more unstable and I was already in some seriously messy water, there was boat wake and wash from all sides at this point and if I could get past this guy then I’d be good to go and I almost did.  I absorbed the first wall of whitewash, and the second but there was a little bump at the end that just dumped me off to my left.  Thankfully the board was between me and the boat and I was able to remount really quickly.  Super quick because I was pissed.  Jodie had passed me right at this point – I was full of rage at myself for falling off and put that into my paddle.  I wanted to catch her.

The rest of the way in I got some really good rides.  I had a great line to the finish and some solid boat wake to jump on.  At one point one of the guys who had caught up to me (on his 17’ board) was right behind me drafting me and jumping on the same waves as me.  He got lifted and spun by one and the nose of his board was about to land on the nose of mine – I would have gone down and he would have either gone down as well or right over my head.  Thankfully I was on my left and use to situations like this (in outriggers rather than SUPs but pretty much the same thing)… I put my paddle in the water (remember, paddle in the water makes you more stable) in between our boards and just nudged his airborne nose away from me and then I heard the splash behind me.  He dumped.  It was all cool afterwards as he knew I was just holding my line and that he was in the wrong.  Also, as frustrating as it was, hitting the water was nice and refreshing – it was warm.

As we approached the finish my line took me back across the river to where Jodie was and we met up pretty evenly and had about 100m to go.  We had little runners and while I was trying to catch whatever I could it wasn’t enough to match her and she nosed me out by 5 seconds (Adam started 3 minutes in front of Stimo in order to keep the racers together so overall we actually beat Adam/Jodie by almost 2:55)

Just finished - that's how close Jodie and I were - Source

Mr Dale Chapman - Source

It was good to do the race.  I had a ton of fun even though I was quietly aggressive while racing while Stimo talked me through it.  I loved hearing his daughters cheering for us all along the east freo bank (I knew it was them even though I couldn’t see them).  Although the first section really hurt I worked my way into it (and it again reinforces my need for a good warm-up – I’ll never learn) and had a lot of fun using the water.  I liked how I get aggressive with the water rather than shy away from the messiness – I dig in and just go for it which is partly why I fell in but I’d rather have that option than the opposite.

There were 25 teams on the day with 19 of them being mixed pairs which was great to see.   Overall – Stimo and I came 4th across the line on overall time (second mixed team) and after the handcapping came 4th in mixed which is solid.  His 8km stretch took 53:58 and we finished overall in 1:38:41 (44:43 for my 5km leg).  I am so glad to have done this race and partnered with Stimo.  It was a great day, no stress, amazingly weather, perfect conditions and I have no guilt over the beers I enjoyed afterwards – they were more than deserved.

That beer tasted *so* good... - Source
Winning $100 voucher for the Tradewinds - Source

No comments:

Post a Comment