By ed on Monday, September 16, 2013
On the weekend I had my first race of the season, Ocean Series round 1 Dee Why Beach. Can I just say the Peter Hatfield and his team did a wonderful job on what was a difficult day to run a downwind paddle.
I woke up not knowing what to expect,am I fitter enough, good enough and confident enough to handle a race at full speed. I sat down and had a bowl of cereal and fruit and tried to read the paper and not think about the race, breaky 7:15am race 10am so enough time to get some good food into me. As I got into the second page of sport and my 3rd mouthful of cereal I realized there was no way I could even read the paper without thinking about the race. What I have learnt over the years of racing is that as long as your thinking about positive things you are going to do in the race, then you want loose to much energy. It's when you focus on negative things about your race, this makes you nervous and vulnerable to making mistakes in the race. You must come up with a plan that does not have you exhausted before you start. I see so many people spent of all their energy before the gun goes. Quick tips, make sure you allow time to warm up, on the weekend it was a little cold and the surf was big, so I went out 20 mins before the start and stayed on the water, I was happy to make change. I normally would go out an hour before the start then come in change paddle clothes, hear the briefing and go out. Remember you warm up needs to be the same as your training.
The race was a 12km diamond shape race, you know a race will be hard when Tim Jacobs enters. So it was the first race of the season, not my goal race for the season so I was prepared to try something new in this race so that I could learn how I could improve. This race I went out solid, not my usual 120%, I held a little back. Nathan Baggley went out like a fighter pilot with Cade Barnes off to a good start as well. It was not long into the race that Tim Jacobs came up to me, with a little in the tank from not going out so hard I decided to see if I could stay with him and learn something. I stayed with him for about 4kms or so, then Tim used his number 1 asset strong consistent grind and pulled away, by following his way I was able to catch up to be in 2nd place. After 3/4 of the race we came up to a paddles biggest fear, REBOUND. Rebound is the toughest thing to deal with in ocean paddling.
It was here that I think I had my best paddle, I stayed true to my training and advice I had given my squad before the start, stay strong on the catch no matter what. The catch is what gives you balance, don't worry if the stroke is ugly, out to the side or a short choppy stroke just make sure it's solid. This is how the boat runs it's best, if the boats running then your balance will be good. I see so many paddlers get in a spot that they don't like and then they go soft on the catch. when the catch is soft then the boat goes slow and then you are sitting on the ski going slow making the ski very unstable.
When you approach rebound think of this, when a speed boat goes out to sea and is moving fast there is no rock in the boat, when it stops it sways side to side, when you paddle slow you go side to side and become unstable and panic, more often then not fall in.
So when coming up to rebound be prepared to angle your ski out to see to run with the rebound but more importantly have a strong catch. Practice rebound training to gain confidence.
So after the rebound I was closing in on Nathan Baggley who had taken a slight lead over me, I had made an error stopping for a drink from my drink system when a few runners come and he was able to pass me.
With a couple of kilometers to go we entered the wave area and luck would be with Nathan and he got a wave to run to shore, I finished 3rd with Tim out right winner.
This was my best ever position with a quality field, I had learnt lots about my race plan going forward. With 3 race till my end goal I will keep searching for ways to improve, so that when my yearly goal comes around I will be not looking for any ways to improve I will have it down pat.
Remember always look to improve and be able to make change, we do a sport that involves mother nature.
Have a great season.