Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Anglesey Sea Kayak Race - 22nd May 2011

This was the first running of this event organised by Open Adventure and Adventure Elements. The original plan was to race from either Trearddur Bay or Benllech in a loop, visiting electronic control points on bouys covering over 20km in distance. However the weather was not playing ball and strong SW winds put paid to any thought of using the exposed coastal locations and the "plan C" location of a race in the Menai Straits was used.

I'm sure a number of people were disappointed with the thought of racing in the Straits, but in the end it turned out to be an excellent location.

The start was by the Anglesey Sea Zoo and 4 surf skis, 21 solo kayaks and 4 doubles lined up for the mass start. After the traditional 3-2-1-Go there was a mad scramble to get boats into the water and spray decks on. John Willacy and Nigel Jones set the pace on the first section of the race heading down towards the two bridges. Initially the conditions were very windy with small surf pushing us downwind.

A little more shelter was had once the field passed Y Felinheli and it was on to the two bridges and the notorious "swellies" - the tidal rapids. To add interest to the race, the organisers had set up three electronic controls in swellies that had to be visited in a set order, forcing us to loop back on ourselves. The first was just "downstream" of the Menai Bridge, the second was by Church Island and the third was back up below Pont Brittania. You could opt to miss out the electronic controls, but this incurred a 45 minute penalty. This loop was very entertaining for spectators and the paddlers had to fight their way back up stream using eddies close in to the shore or just fighting their way back up the main flow.

Once around this loop is was a straight race down past Bangor Pier and finish at Gallows Point. This started off sheltered but soon became more exposed with more surf and wind on our backs.

Nigel Jones on a ski was first followed by John Willacy in his Taran. First lady back was Justine Curgenven.

As far as my own race went I wasn't comfortable in the downwind/surf sections. I was struggling to get any rhythm and only made up time/places on the more sheltered sections. Maybe this was down to lack of practice in surf, but also the small integral rudder of the Epic is not very effective in these conditions (it is out of the water frequently). I was overtaken by Justine in the Swellies and nearly retook her approaching Bangor Pier, but as the wind and surf picked up again I dropped back finishing 7th kayak in a time of 1:46:38 - 20 minutes behind the leaders.

The event is expected to take place again next year, and hopefully with better weather will attract a larger field.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 13th May 2011

Repeated the round trip to Marple, but this time paddling the Xplore. Did it in exactly the same time as last time. Paddled out slower (61 minutes to Higher Poynton), but much more steady on the return. Out and back in 3hr 55min, 30km paddled.

Brereton Lake - 12th May 2011

Practice rescue session in sea kayaks with the Macc Canoe Club.
Performed self rescue, 'all in' scenario, T rescue and landing on rock swimming in with boat.
On the water for just over an hour.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 8th May 2011

Fancied doing a few more miles than usual - just agreed to do the Eddystone again, so need to get used to working hard for 5+ hours.

Launched at Clarke Lane and took 54:55 to get to Higher Poynton, but instead of the usual turn I carried on through High Lane and on to the end of the canal at Marple. Turned right towards New Mills to get the outward distance to 15km.

Outward average moving speed was 9.0/9.1 kph.

I'd had a wind assisted outward trip, so the return became a real slog. Moving average dropped right down to below 8kph and the last 4 or 5 km I toured in because I was pretty tired. Total trip time 3:55.

Paddling the Epic.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bowleaze Cove to Mupe Bay round trip - 29th April 2011

We parked up at Bowleaze Cove on the road after dropping the boat off on the beach via the car park. Nancy then set off to run the route while I was to paddle it.

After a bit of the usual faff sorting the kit out I set off about 10 minutes behind her. The weather was hazy cloud - thundery showers had been forecast, but they weren't to materialise until later that evening.

The wind was 3-4 from the NE according to the forecast, but it was more E as I paddled into a bit of a headwind (more pronounced on the headlands under the cliffs).

Approaching White Nothe

Below White Nothe

Once I passed Ringstead I spotted a runner up on the top of the cliffs approaching White Nothe - didn't think it was Nancy - they seemed to be running too fast! But as the runner descended down one of the dips in the Warren I confirmed it was her and we stayed roughly together to meet up at Lulworth.

Durdle Door in the distance through Bat Head

Nancy - going the hard way!

Durdle Door

Stair Hole


En route to Lulworth I had a little bit of tide against me plus the gusting headwind, but the sea was generally calm. I passed two groups of two kayaks on my way out.

Quick coffee stop with Nancy

After refreshment in Lulworth, I said goodbye to Nancy as she headed back. I reckoned I could go faster, so I carried on along the coast to Mupe Bay passing another couple of kayakers plus saying hello to a couple of climbers on the excellent looking Lulworth to Mupe Bay traverse. At a mile long, this must be the longest recognised climb in the UK.

Climbers on the Lulworth to Mupe Bay traverse

East most of the Mupe Rocks

I got back to Bowleaze just under 10 minutes ahead of Nancy. 30.9km travelled, on the water for 4hr 18min.