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

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