Saturday, 25 September 2010

Macclesfield Canal - 25th September 2010

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 54:34, didn't feel that energetic, so had a couple of rests on the way back to take photos and admire the scenery... very nice autumnal sunshine, but pretty cool.

Chester 2 Marathon - 19th September 2010

Took part in my first BCU marathon at Chester. As a new starter in the discipline I had to race in Division 9 over the shorter distance of 4 miles (hardly a marathon!). I paddled the Epic sea kayak, which being 18ft long is not strictly legal, though I doubt it is faster than the 17ft K1 racing kayaks.

I won my race fairly easily, so hopefully I'll get ranked in a higher division for next time. I'll also need to paddle a proper K1, so I'll need to borrow one off of the Macc CC.

Update 3/10/10 - Time was 37:29, and I've been promoted to Div 7. Same time would have placed me 2nd in Div 8, and 3rd in Div 7.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Fleetwood Seaquest - 11th September 2010

With the highest tide of the year and the forecast being a bit windy, the organisers were forced to shorten the event from its normal 22km down to 15km and keep the race within the confines of the Wyre estuary. This missed out the mass beach start and the entertaining crossing of the harbour mouth which was a bit of a shame. Hopefully this isn't a permanent change, although the new base at the River Wyre Country Park was an excellent venue.

Event base at River Wyre Country Park
The revised course involved visiting eight orienteering type controls and punching the supplied map/scorecard. The controls had to be visited in a set order which limits any real route choice.

The new event base precluded a "Le Mans" type start, so the boats were massed in a side channel and set off with a horn blast. Heading N up the W bank against the incoming tide, John Willacy quickly established a small lead that, as we expected, he extended throughout the race. Glen Parry settled into 2nd place on his racing surf ski (the more tippy one of the two he owns). I was paddling with Ned Price and Kate Duffus for a while but by the first check point had managed to pull slightly ahead of these two.

Preparing to Launch
The second checkpoint involved crossing the estuary which meant a large ferry glide across the incoming current. Not sure if I took the best line as John W and Glen seemed to get further away - they crossed over to the other side more directly before working up the E bank to the checkpoint. I took a more direct line, but this may have involved staying in the incoming current for longer.

The 3rd checkpoint was quite a way down the E bank now, and this proved a bit of a slog. We didn't swing far out into the estuary and stayed down the E side. This meant we most likely didn't benefit much from the incoming tide, but it would have involved quite a wide track to pick up what was left of the incoming flood.

Continuing on through the next checkpoints Ned was never far behind me which gave me the incentive to keep working hard. By the S end of the race and the turning point at the bridge, Ned was about 50m behind me. I managed to maintain the difference through the remaining checkpoints and finished in a time of 1:42, 12 minutes behind John W. and a few minutes behind Glen. Reasonably pleased with the result, but it's still more down to the boat rather than me.

Lady winner - Pascale Eichenmuller

2nd Lady - Kate Duffus running to hand in control card
After the race had a quick paddle in a P&H Cetus MV which seemed quite fast, though the seat/thigh grip location didn't seem that comfortable.

Jim Wallis
Post race refreshments consisted of Lancashire Hot Pot with mushy peas followed by chocolate cake! Very tasty. My 3rd place won a £10 Brookbank gift voucher. Not quite as lucrative as last week, but nice to be in the prizes. All in all another excellent event.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Oban Sea Kayak Race - 4th September 2010

This was the first running of this race, a circumnavigation of the island of Kerrera. I've never paddled in this area before, so it was a good excuse to visit Oban and enter the race.

Fine weather prerace 
His and Hers Rockpool Tarans (the pinkish one is his!)
The event was based from the Kilbowie outdoor centre, just outside Oban. The centre provided parking, launching and toilets for the race and a number camped for one or two nights in the centre's grounds (including me). Registration and boat/kit checks took place from 11am till noon in pleasant sunshine, then the fleet launched and made its way en-masse down to the Oban harbour a couple of kilometers away. Once on the town beach we had an hour to kill before the race started, the reason for this being that we had to wait for a ferry to dock and subsequently depart but it also gave an opportunity for some publicity of the event with loads of kayaks sitting on the beach with a pipe band to entertain the tourists. The organisers had only decided to put on the race a couple of months beforehand and in the end 54 paddlers lined up for the start which made a spectacular site in the harbour.

Fleet makes it way to the start
Landing on Oban town beach
Waiting for the ferry to depart
The race started at 2:15 and we headed off down the Sound of Kerrara. John Willacy soon hit the front and stayed there for the whole race, gradually getting completely out of site. I managed to keep the boat moving fairly well as we battled some squalls and may be a little wind against tide effects that caused some bouncy conditions down the Sound. I rounded the SE tip in second place and managed to surf a bit as I made my way across to the Bach Island channel. GPS reading seemed to peak around 12kph.

Once round on the W side of the island conditions eased up a bit and it was possible to get more into a rythym. I maintained second position through till the fish farm just short of the N end of the island, but I was starting to tire and I was overtaken by local lad, Jon Warwick. I couldn't catch him back up but he provided some motivation to keep working hard and making sure I didn't lose any more places. I eventually finished in a time of 2:13 in third place, but importantly first over 50!...which meant I won the senior prize. One advantage of turning 50 this summer...

Glen Parry running to hand his number in
Putting it in perspective, John Willacy had finished in a time of 1:55... so still out in a different league. His partner, Pascal finished first lady, so their trip up from Anglesey proved well worth while and meant they were busy in the prize giving.

After the event we congregated back at the Kilbowie centre. The weather had deteriorated a bit by this time, so the centre very kindly opened up a lounge and area where we could eat our burgers and have the prize giving. The prizes were superb - main category winners could choose between cags, bouyancy aid, or boots then there were cash, books, dvds for other categories/lower positions. John Willacy gets his name as the first winner on the silver cup that will be presented as a perpetual trophy.
So thanks to the organisers - Gus and Mark - plus all the helpers. Thanks to the Kilbowie centre for use of its facilities and finally thanks to the sponsors for the generous prizes!... hope to be back again if they run it next year.

Annette Morris (2nd Open Lady)

Phil Cheek sprinting for the finish