Port Stephen’s Regatta: Changes Race, April 30th 2011.
All week the swell and sea generated by a south bound Low Pressure cell off Qld and days of 20knot southerly wind was building. 3 – 4m ! WOW ! Around the islands here we come. Happy days.
But it was not to be. PSOCC decided to move the course inside even though conditions improved remarkably by Saturday (less 10knot & half the swell) as some support boats were not suitable for offshore (eg a wakeboard type speedboat !) and maybe a few of the crews.
Boring but still heaps fun – especially for the less experienced crews. Along the same pattern as our Pasha Dasha regatta, PSOCC set up a 9.5km triangular course from Shoal Bay to west of Nelson Bay. This allowed spectators and competitors to stay in touch and made race management so much easier. A format more suited to promoting our sport.
Our two mixed crews: Mammas & Pappas (married couples mostly) and the Rebels (the John West or Heinz 57 variety ) were ready. Jumping out of a perfectly good boat into the ocean just so you can swim around and climb into another one is irrational at best. With the change of course some of the apprehension amongst the newbies disappeared & some ‘butterflies’ were drowned.
Even though racing in more sheltered conditions it was not without its challenges and provided invaluable experience for our 6 steerers and crews. The rounding mark out near the channel entrance adjacent to Tomaree headland was 100m from an inspiring bit of wave action as the out going tide pushed into the swell. Unfortunately just too far off course and heading away to be tempting! For the 5km paddle to Nelson Bay the smart crews snuck in close around Fly Point to keep out of the tidal flow – and maybe jump onto a wave that would pop up there. (our M & P’s found out just how surprising this spot can be when a wave dumped & half filled the canoe – all captured on camera).
Based on the infinite wisdom of the coaching staff, both our crews were evenly balanced. Gradually, the true grit/mongrel of the Rebels shone through– with the help of a wave dumping on the others. No three course meals and fluffy slippers for these units. No siree – it was just the relentless grind and grind, splash and swim, sandwich, drink and here we go again. The climb into the canoe was not too pretty in some cases and the bruise count still to complete.
Almost 4 hours of paddling sounds like damn hard work – it was, but it did not take too many ales afterwards before the tall tales started to get everyone excited for the next one……….sounds like childbirth or a knee operation ? As with any race, and especially longer ones, the matrix of feelings / experiences would be interesting to discover. Some paddlers realised they did not like the race until got fitter while others can’t wait for more; our masterly ladies are even more inspired to train over Winter while the guys heading to Hamo are figuring on getting into more serious (late?) work.
If nothing else, I think it was the spirit of mateship / friendship shared amongst the members as they faced their own ‘demons’ that makes this sport a winner. Well done to everyone.
Lastly, big thankyou to Hirecraft Marine in Toronto for loaning us one of the support boats and to our newest member Joe Bidwell and Kelly’s brother, Greg, for manning this boat.