Thursday, 8 September 2011

Oban Sea Kayak Race - 3rd September 2011

Before the start
This was the second running of this event that entails a 20km circuit of the island of Kerrera starting and finishing in Oban bay. It was nice to see a good turnout of competitive/fast kayaks - Inuks, Epics, Rapiers, Tarans, Nelos were all represented along with one surf ski.

The rest of the fleet
The weather was looking a bit touch and go and plans were in place to fall back to the rough weather route, but luckily conditions improved just enough to enable the call to be made to go all the way around the island - Gus (the organiser) asked me if we should go, and I gave him the thumbs up.

The race started at 1pm with us all lined up in the bay in front of the lifeboat which demanded a prominent position as the event beneficiary (but slightly in the way!). The first leg down the strait was into a gusty headwind and increasing waves. A lot of paddlers tried to keep tucked into the shores to get shelter, but not sure if this made much difference.

The rounding of the southern tip of the island was the roughest part of the race followed by a paddle across the bay to "Back Island" with waves coming on the port side. Once through the channel between Back Island and the Kerrera main island it was possible to pick up waves to get short surfing rides. These waves gradually faded out as we progressed along the west coast. Finally we rounded the northern tip and crossed to the mainland side to finish back in Oban harbour.

I was much further down the field this time due to the higher quality turnout and finished in 14th place in a time of 2:18. I was loosing places on the first leg down the straits, but once round the southern tip I managed to make up a few places and had my sights on trying to catch George Oliver who had just beaten me on the Coquet race. I didn't quite catch him and I ended up 5th in the over 50's senior race.

Bit disappointed that my time was nearly 5 minutes slower than the previous year - other people seemed to improve on their times. Main reason could be that I lost about 4 weeks paddling at the end of July and August due to US trips. Just need to be fitter next year!

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