Cape Point Challenge 2018
It is not called Cape Point Challenge for nothing and this year was no exception.
Leading up to this year's Cape Point Challenge we were all refreshing our different wind apps to get an idea of what the wind was doing. At first it was looking like a light SE wind with a small swell of less than 2m. But this was changed as the days went by and on Friday the forecast was for the holding Black South Easter to rear it head for race morning. Pete Cole made a call to stay inside the bay for the race, that would take us from Simon's Town to the Point and turn and then head back to Fish Hoek with a compulsory check point just off the beach at Buffel's.
So race morning arrived and its an early start from Simon's Town, I was starting at 6:00am. I felt good and knew it was going to be a long tough paddle up to the point. As we turned into the wind after the shelter of the harbour wall I knew I had to pace myself and do my own race, as it was gusting well over 30kts. It wasn't easy against the wind and with all the chop I decided to followed a few paddlers very close in shore. We were skirting the edges of rocks and took a risk after Miller's Point by cutting inside a set of rocks. It worked for me but there were lots of swimmers. I thought that after Miller's Point it would get easier with less rocky areas to "cut" through, but wow was I wrong. The wind had a bit to much easterly in it and going past Smitswinkel Bay up to Buffel's the wind was more side/headwind and with the rebounds from the cliffs hitting you from the other side it was time to concentrate. Paddlers were getting taken out by rouge waves and one hit me but luckily I stayed on my ski. I saw two guys on a double get washed right out of their boat. It was now survival mode time. As I was approaching the turn at Buffel's I noticed there wasn't a buoy but the big NSRI boat, when I reached the boat they said to turn and go back to Fish Hoek. They had made the call to shorten the race, another good call as I think they had been really busy helping and assisting paddlers and this call was to make sure we were all safe.
After the turn was not easy as we were now too close to the shoreline and the wind was more side on than downwind. So I followed a double for around 1km to go virtually straight out to sea to attempt to get a better line and downwind to the finish. Once I could see the point after Smitswinkel I decided to turn and go downwind while working out to keep a good line. Very difficult and testing conditions so I was very happy to see the famous Miller's Rock, I though - "Now I am just a Miller's Run from the Finish!". Still the first few km's of the Miller's Run section was coming over my right shoulder and I had to keep working out. The best part was from just before Roman Rock Lighthouse until the finish. The runs lined up and I was finally linking runs. I was stoked just to finish a race like this with such gruelling conditions and to finish in the top 5 was an awesome way to end the year.
Definitely not the kind of conditions I am use to and definitely conditions I do not want to get use to. Big shout out to the NSRI for keeping us safe and for Pete Cole on making a good call to keep us in the Bay and to his safety team that worked closely with the NSRI to keep us all safe out on the water.
Now its time for a little break over Christmas.
Thank you to everyone who supported me this year and here's to a great 2019.
Thank you Hein and Jason from Carbonology Sport, Esteban and Sara from Living Sea for your ongoing support. Providing me with the most fantastic surfski to race in and making sure that my Surfski gets around to all the races.
Pat and Adrienne from Vaikobi for continually supporting me with the best paddling kit out there, and also for always pushing the limits with amazing new designs and keeping us comfortable while we are out there racing and training.
Hayley and Linton for keeping me fit on and off the water and for all the advice, help and support.
Micky McDonald (Surfski Gypsy) for taking my Surfski around on your trailer to my European races.
All the best everyone for 2019. Have a great time over the festive season and see you in Lanzarote!