Got an abrupt wakeup call from my phone going off next to the bed. The race had been moved forward and hour which related in a mad rush to get out the house and down to the beach. I really don’t like the wait around before the start of a race as the nerves build so suited me fine. Just get the job done in the back of my brain.
The weather certainly didn’t play ball and we were dished very the same flat conditions as last year. These things we can’t control and the beauty of facing different paddling conditions each day loomed in the challenge of a 26km sprint across Lake Durban.
We raced this same course last year in the same conditions so there was no guess work on what to expect. Fast bunch racing and some swell bumps in the second half, the ones you work really hard for and never get driving you crazy.
The start wasn’t that fast and was happy to stay out of trouble on the side of the bunch. Things broke up quicker than expected though and within 10min Hank McGregor had put the hammer down. I wasn’t comfy sitting second waves and the line the bunch was on was a little shallow for my liking. I love this course and know it well and headed out on my own to the right of the bunch out to sea on what I felt was a straighter line.
The confidence needed to go it alone for the next hour and a half is hectic. The mental game of not knowing where the opposition is, how hard to go and doubting ones actions can all cripple a race plan. Sticking to ones guns is the only option.
I lost about a hundred meters going out to sea a bit. Trying not to panic I searched for the rhythm I was looking for on my own and it definitely didn’t come straight away. Looking down at my Garmin checking speed, the first 40min was a propyl messy. Working too hard to keep the speed I wanted and knew I had in me. It finally started to flow and going past Umhlanga I picked up and passed Brandon Van Der Walt. The first person I had seen in a while.
I had a great last 10km building stroke by stroke. Finally with 2km to go cutting into Umhloti I could finally pick out Matthew Bouman’s all black ski on my inside. Big Matty doesn’t give up so I knew I had to really pull one out the hat. Luckily my line paid off and edged ahead coming into the finish and at the last minute saw Len Jenkins. It is so hard to make out who you are racing with boats from the D, C and B batches all over the sea, a white boat just looks like a white boat out there.
Had a go at catching Len in the dying couple hundred meters but he saw me coming and held me off by 20m.
On a shallower line Hank McGregor and Grant Van Der Walt had got away coming home 1st and 2nd respectfully. Len 3rd and myself coming home 4th and big Matty 5th.
The standard in Durban is just ridiculous at the moment. The average speed that is winning races is madness with the top 5 really pushing each other and have to give all credit to Hank who just seems to not make mistakes with ultimate consistency.
I am not racing the doubles tomorrow. One of my amazing sponsors Varsity College is now sponsoring the multisport series and am going to be heading out to Holla trails to support their new venture. The whole of my second family Team Jeep will be out doing the event as well so I am excited to hang out with all of them as well.