Now this is this year and the winds are going to be up this year. The race gods have punished the organizers for changing the course last year and are now happy that we are racing over the original course. If of course the winds are not up then obviously the gods still ain't happy about something.
In 1991 the winds weren't up either it was dead flat. "Surely it can't be like that next year (1992)" we said. Were we wrong, it was one of those mornings when you wake up and all the escort boats were pointing towards Oahu, at anchor. Not a good sign, "It will swing" some said but it didn't.
So two bad years in row, can it happen again, I guess we will see on the morning of May 18? Every other race I have done since then has had some sort of downwind section or close to it. When Herman won a few years ago it was side wind with a bit of downwind. And apart from 2 or 3 other light wind days the channel has produced the goods on all occasions.
But I'm not writing a history on the race I am going to tell you about the Aussie contingent making their way over this year, and there are a few of them.
Leading the charge will be Tim Jacobs.
Fresh from a win in NZ, Tim is currently on fire. While he hasn't won one of the big major events it only seems to be a matter of time till he does. In recent training sessions with the "lanky one" he has been the dominant player. The frustrating thing about training with Tim is that he does one stroke to my three. Making the dais in Dubai was a big result for Tim and probably one of his best to date. I know he is keen to go a step or two further.
Mark Anderson & Dave Kissane
Nipping at his heels has been Mark Anderson and Dave Kissane. Most may not know too much about Ando but Dave has been around for a while and is also due to win one of the major races. Ando has been training exceptionally well and I believe will be a big player in future races. After a long layoff from paddling Ando has come back with a vengeance. Both these guys are conditions dependent. Dave may not start if it's flat and Ando would prefer the calmer conditions at this point.
In training, Dave is like one of those irritating sores that you just can't get rid of. He just keeps coming back and annoying you. Finishing out of the top ten in Perth has been a thorn in his side for the last few months and he is keen to make amends. There is nothing better than reminding him about it to, so if you get the chance ask him how he went in Perth.
Kane Huessner is a former world surf ski champ in the lifesaving events. He hails from a family of champs with his dad a former lifesaving guru in this country and Sister Holly won the inaugural surf ski world cup in Cape Town a few years ago. Kane has been slotting into some sessions with Tim and Ando and is not too far off the pace. He is better in the rougher conditions and with a heap of distance iron man races under his belt, has the endurance to go all the way.
Born and bred in WA Kirk Jarrott is a major contender for this year's event. Jarrott has always finished top ten in distance ocean racing events that he has competed in. It's been a while since he has raced over this distance and this may be the telling part between a huge performance and good performance.
Marty Kenny has been around for longer than most of us care to remember. Always placing but yet to pull off the big one. He has it in him and when the time is right he will pounce and bring home the bacon. I have been fortunate to have spent many hours travelling with Marty to weird and wonderful locations around the globe and would like nothing better than to see him get up. Marty's training time is limited He now spends most of his time helping his iron man tri-athlete wife at major international events, along with two kids, work and training to be an airline pilot. Marty has found that he has a spare 45 minutes between 1.15am and 2am to fit in a quick one (paddle) on the canals around his house.
WAs Dean Beament is a big run specialist. One of the best in the big chop the former National Junior Ski Champ is a rare talent. There are few that have the natural raw ability to paddle s ski that this guy has. He was a dominant player in sprint ski racing and has made the seamless transition to distance paddling. Given the right conditions next week he too is likely to be one of the front runners. I have watched Deano from when he was a 15 year old and for years tried to convince him to do some of these races. Having seen the light a few years ago he has not looked back and just keeps getting better.
This year we see a huge contingent from Australia heading over to the race. Above I have given you a brief insight into who I think will perform. There are many more heading over all with their own goals and expectations. As a true blue Aussie I would like to see one of our guys get up.
Early weather reports do not look favourable at this stage, variable winds kick in on Tuesday and could last through the weekend.
Let's hope we see a return of trade winds prior to next weekend.
[Editor: But what about Deano himself?
Here's what Dave Kissane had to say:
Based on training form alone, you would rate Chops as a top 10 contender, top 5 at best. The last few sessions leading into Molokai have included half a dozen top liners (incl. TJ, Muz Stewart, Jez, Ando and the old dogs). It hasn't been pretty but by the end of the 2 hour sessions, he has been lurking in the shadows speed demons - Cotter and Jacobs (both of whom are flying). This is so reminiscent of his form going into CapeTown 2004 (1st), Molokai 2005 (unfortunate 3rd) and Durban 2007 (strong 3rd). If he is within 2mins at the 2 hour mark, his finish over the last 2km at Durban shows that he could make a run at them over the last hour or so.]