Written by Barry Lewin
As I wipe the sleep out my eyes this morning I cant help but have this warm, fuzzy feeling inside, and a big grin from ear to ear. Flashes of an awesome weekend flood in, a father and son road trip, 2 cracker downwind races as well as connecting with the paddling community from around the country, what more can one ask for?
The Pete Marlin really is my favorite surfski race in SA for a number of reasons so packing the car on Thursday got the blood going for sure.
My dad and I have a lot in common as we both have a passion for the ocean and surfski racing. We organized to take the trailer of Durban paddlers boats down to the race and treat the weekend as a bit of father son time. What a blessing it is, to be able to hang out with you old man, talk kak for many hours on the road and share war stories from the trip on the way home. Its not something I take for granted and hope to be doing more trips like this in the future with the “Bullet” as he is affectionately know. Old, but still fast on the water or to tell a story (my word can he talk).
The racing kicked off quite early on Saturday with the singles World Series Race. The course was a 22km paddle from Orient Beach to Yellow Sands in some really fun SW conditions.
The protected start Orient Beach gave the paddlers a very fair start and 2 bunches were formed early on. I lead out the one on the inside with Jasper Mocke going out to see to find more swell with a couple paddlers following him. I learnt a lesson on this course last year how important the first 20min is. I battled to get going in 2014 and simply couldn’t catch up. The goal was to be in the mix in the first 5km to Nahoon point.
The first 10min of racing is quite flat in the protection of the harbour but very soon the tail of my Fenn was being lifted by a run and I was able to glide from 1 run to the next. Conditions turned out to be “PERFECT”, with small fast runs providing some really nice technical connections between them. The angle was the same as a SW in Durban and this familiarity got me into a rhythm with the runs really quickly.
Pushing hard early I managed to get away from the paddlers in my bunch of Wade Krieger and Steve Woods. This was a nice confidence boost as Wade has really been going well in Durban and thought he would be a threat on the day. It was hard to tell where other paddlers where, as we passed through the B, C and D batches who had gone off before us. I however knew Jasper Mocke (3rd at World Champs) would be strong on the outside.
The race went by so fast with the runs being so much fun. Linking one to another it was hard to think I was actually racing and asked myself at times, “is racing really meant to be this fun?”. It went so fast that I was surprised to look up to notice I was passing one of the points I use as a marker some 5km from the finish. With more awareness of the finish line I could see Dawid Mocke some 150m outside me and knew I was in with a shout if I could hold my speed.
Coming into the last km to Yellow Sands Point it was run for run with Dawid on a wider line. I missed 2 runs tacking out to get around the point and that was the difference, Dawid nailed the line to the surf zone and turned 2 runs ahead, to take the win. I don’t think I made any mistakes but Dawid was just that good and deserved it. Dawid drove out to check the finish the day before and his homework had paid off.
The race was now on for 2nd and Jasper Mocke had come in from a deep line and showed amazing skill catching a wave passed me and down the rocks. The wave took him right up to finish just behind his brother Dawid in 2nd. I scratched in for the last step of the podium in 3rd. This is a great result for me in a strong field of paddlers from around SA.
The training for worlds and loosing some weight has certainly helped in getting me in the mix on the racing recently. It is very motivating and I plan to keep up with the little things I have changed that have worked so well this year.
The second day of racing was the doubles on the same course. I jumped in with long time friend Steve Woods, who I have never paddled with before. We didn’t have any expectations with not having any time in the boat together but with another nice SW blowing we were excited about the fun downwind on offer.
We got away well with Jasper Mocke/Dom Notten (also a new combination) but the danger pair of Dwaid Mocke/Tom Schilperoort (a seasoned crew just having done Fish together) had gone out very hard further out to see.
The first 10km of the race was very hard with very small runs and no rest, climbing over the one in front all the time. Jasper again went out to see to find more swell and we started to chase Dawid/Tom. We held them for the first 20min but soon their strength started to show and they put on a 200m lead at 5km to go.
The runs improved in the last 10km with some much better speeds. We started gaining back some time but it wasn’t enough with Dawid/Tom taking a well-deserved win. Just like the singles, the race was on for 2nd, and this time it was Steve/myself who got a wave at Yellows Point ahead of Jasper/Dom taking us into 2nd.
All the paddlers at the event had a lot of fun on and off the water. It has to be one of the best-organized races I have been to. As I said in my speech at prize giving, there are 2 real standouts at the Pete Marlin. Firstly the people of the town in East London have to be the coolest bunch of hospitable people you could meet, they really rock. The second being the sponsors who back the event organizers, allowing them to put on such a good show. Thanks to all for the awesome weekend.
Big thanks to the Atkinson family for the home stay. Again in 2015 you opened your home to my dad and I. Gary you are awesome!
Well done to Charl Van Wyk (legend race organizers and king of the spread sheet) for all you do for the sport. I will be back for many years to come.
Next up for me is the Fenn Cape Point Challenge in December. Not my favorite race but an exercise in building some base for next years racing. Wish me luck with some base miles over the next month.