A year later

By Jim on Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 One year ago I ventured back onto the race track. The first race I did in an ocean ski race was Bondi Beach in Sydney to Watson Bay in Sydney Harbour, set on one of the best back drops any race could ever have. Big cliffs and swooping around to one of the best sights in the world, the Sydney Harbour bridge, how could you not love ocean ski paddling with a back drop like that. Last year I had done about 8 weeks training. This made the race very very hard as I had to race on pure grit and memory. 

So 12 months on and a real desire to want to better my 12th place of last year, I set out with a new outlook. Thirty weeks ago I started training with Jimsquad, it took more then the 30 weeks to get it right.

i had to prepare mentally and physically as my goal was to be able to paddle the 11km race as hard as I could.

What did I do?  

I made sure that I worked regually on my technique in both the flat water and surf, having the skills to be able to paddle is the most important tool any paddler can have. I spent the best part of 16 weeks working on my technique in the flat with drills and in the surf working rebound and runners. 

The base training had to be done early in the 30 weeks as I needed some time to gain some speed, the people who race the ocean skis are very fit fast paddlers in every age group, if you have no speed you get left behind very quickly. I also wanted to paddle with some sort of composure, not like last year where I paddled 7-8kms on pure knowledge only. As the program went on I am very lucky to train with a great bunch of paddlers at Jimsquad. The team at Jimsquad helped me learn no matter what your paddling ability at the time if you work hard you will improve. I used those techniques to work through the 30 weeks, this way I always had a goal to improve.

I speak lots about having goals but the one thing that let me paddle so well on the weekend in the race was by having goals. I had said to myself at the outset that it would be a dream to come in the top 5 in an ocean ski race, I had come 12th the tear before and I believe it could be possible to reach that goal if I worked hard for the whole period of the 30 weeks. 

Goals that I found worked for me, I would have a small goal every session, once I sorted my technique I would set a goal of breaking over 12kms per hour for more then 20 mins in an hour session. Then my next goal would be to able handle catching runners, by doing that I tried to catch runners hard so I could become fitter. Catching runners is a skill of fitness as well as power and surfing. I found it very difficult at first dealing with the fitness level required. So as my goal of flat out for 15 mins then 30 mins and so on. The good thing is that it always made training fun.I truly believe that this is the way you get the most out of your training, making it fun and enjoyable.

Race day arrives and like everyone I was nervous, I settled myself by warming up and choosing the right line to race, by this I mean workout which is the best line to take in the race, if you don't the race takes hold and you end up following the pack. If you paddle 200m of coarse that can cost you 1 minute, how many places would you catch up by being 1 minute in front? So then what would happen if you went 500-1km of coarse, this is not hard to do.

I felt very settle and confident by knowing where I was going to go, a few strong efforts and I was finished and the at the race briefing with the mob. In true fashion I could hearing people talking but not taking anything in, as I was nervous and hanging on to my 10th wee in the last 30 mins.

I got my ski ready, my ski of choice is the Think Uno Max Kevlar, it rode the race beautiful, nothing better seating comfort for the ride. Are you comfortable in your ride? Doulbe check your equipment, I believe everyone should take some fluids if only to wet your mouth. So by getting on the water 15 minutes before the start I was able to get a good position on the start line, please make sure this is your priority when you race. I see so many people unprepared on the start line.

I got away well and settle into the race, around the cliffs and the wondeful Bondi Beach is gone and it's the rebound of the wonderful cliffs of Sydney harbour. After 5km I take stock of where I am placed in the race and find myself not leading but within touch of the leaders, rounding the cliffs and a view of Sydney Harbour and I am outside of my desired place of top 5. I had been training so hard over the last few weeks and asked myself a honest question, do you really want to finished top 5?

My answer is yes I do, I paddled the last 2.5kms with no grit but power and technique all from the hard work and drills that I had worked on. My last 15 minutes I think were my best ever 15 minutes, it was strong and well placed, I let my Think Uno Max do the work, I had perfect boat run and it felt great. After really in a competitor I was neck and neck for 5 or 6th spot and I wanted 5th bad. Good boat run and a strong catch and I finished 5th, no prouder paddling moment in the last few years.

The thing that I learn't the most after the race was that if you work hard you will be rewarded, it doesn't matter what place you come as long as it's true to you.

To everyone who battled the conidtions and fought for their own line honours well done, to those paddlers who chase their paddling dreams around the world work hard.

Here is a look at my race.