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Mauritius – Day 4 Warm-up race, broken boats

Thursday, 09 September 2010 20:06 | Written by 
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Tom Schilperoort navigates the reef near Baie du Cap Tom Schilperoort navigates the reef near Baie du Cap Credits: Barbara Yendell, surfski.info

Hank McGregor, Jeremy Cotter and Tom Schilperoort diced most of the warm-up race before being split up by the waves in the channel through the reef just before the finish...

Pre-race tension

Although today’s paddle was billed as an orientation paddle (times weren’t taken and some paddlers, Matt Bouman and Dean Gardiner among them, didn’t even race) there was still tension in the air.  Juice bottles were prepared; race numbers were applied to skis; some paddlers (Nigel Harvey) even had a lie-down to settle their nerves!

Mauritius Ocean Classic - warm up

Sporty's Downwind Challenge

The route was an out-and-back from Tamassa.  Although there was a slight breeze from the east, there were runs to be had in both directions reflected off the reef.

Paddlers were called in batches by race number onto the water and formed a rolling line.  Down went the flag and the sea was churned into spray by 140-odd paddle blades accelerating the skis towards the first turn buoy.

Sporty's Challenge - Start

Disaster in the Channel

Having tried (and failed) to slip some of the faster paddlers I found my rhythm and headed out through the channel in the reef.  Brisbane paddler Danny Topfer came rocketing past me on his V10 Sport...  I consoled myself with the thought that this was the man who achieved a sub-4 hr Molokai in May this year in the same boat...

Through the channel (or so I thought) I started to turn west along the reef to Baie du Cap...  Out of nowhere a wall of green water reared up in front of me.  I charged it and crashed through.  Boyan Zlatarev, who’d clearly had a shocking start, was just ahead of me.  Another wave reared up in front of us.  I straightened up to punch through it, but Zlatarev was caught at an angle, and disappeared in into the white water as the wave collapsed onto him.  Then the wave reached me and a nasty crunching sound announced the fact that I’d collided with something solid.

Pausing only to collect my hat, I remounted and set off.  Zlatarev’s ski was clearly damaged but it was only when one of the escort boats came alongside that I realised that my ski was also hors de combat.

Feeling low, we made our way back through the reef to the hotel...  Zlatarev’s V12 had a crack in the bottom of the hull and mine substantial damage to the nose.

Game over – that’s my paddling done for the week.


As the front group exited the channel, Hank McGregor, Jeremy Cotter and Tom Schilperoort caught a runner and instantly dropped Dawid Mocke and Hadyn Smith.  “It would have taken some serious effort to claw them back,” said Mocke afterwards, “and I figured it just wasn’t worth it.”

The lead group diced together all the way down to Baie du Cap and back, and it was only as they came back in through the reef that they split up.

Baie du Cap

The leaders round the point at Baie du Cap

Hank McGregor ramped a wave in a spectacular manoeuvre (caught on video).  Schilperoort immediately turned in, riding a wave into the teeth of the current.  McGregor crossed to the other side of the channel where there was less current – and was followed by Cotter.

Sporty's Challenge - the leaders

McGregor put the hammer down in flat water and eventually beat Cotter by a couple of boat lengths, Schilperoort coming in third.

Sporty's Challenge - top 3

Smiles all round for the top 3

“I’m feeling great,” said Schilperoort.  “I’ve been using a different training program and it seems to be working – I was able to stay with Hank and Jeremy the whole way; it was only when I took the wrong line in the pass that I fell back.”

Cotter was pleased to knock out some the cobwebs gathered during the long flight from Sydney.  “Sitting next to Dean for 12 hours on end was pretty bad!” he said.

Some mothers have 'em...  The Rice family's bad luck continued today when Sean Rice caught a steep wave at the entrance of the channel through the reef.  The result of the encounter was a folded boat - Rice managed to paddle to the finish losing a couple of places in the process.

The curse of the Rices

Women’s Race

Nikki Mocke was never seriously challenged – except by the conditions.  “I was paddling comfortably with a group of men, but took a gel as we came out of Baie du Cap,” she said.  “Suddenly they all caught a couple of small runs and got away.”  Mocke paddled the rest of the way on her own and found the return leg gruelling.

Nikki Mocke

Nikki Mocke - first woman home

Ruth Highman

Aussie Ruth Highman came second two places behind, 21st overall.

Images from Barbara Yendell (www.BarbaraYendell.com)


Prospects for Saturday – looking up!

Tomorrow is a rest day – and for some of the paddlers, an opportunity to scout the channel at Le Morne.

Saturday’s race will be run from Souillac to Le Morne as planned.

windguru 2010-09-09

The forecast has improved and although there won’t be same cracking downwind conditions as last year, there will be some assistance for the paddlers.  According to the locals, the 6-7kt southeasterly breeze forcast by windguru will most likely translate into a wind of 10kt or more in reality.

The 2.9m/12sec southwesterly swell will make for some exciting conditions at the Le Morne entrance.

Results – Sporty’s Downwind Challenge

Nameski typeSporty's
McGregor - Hank Fenn 1
Cotter - Jeremy Fenn 2
Schilperoodt - Tom Epic 3
Mocke - Dawid Fenn 4
Smith - Hayden Fenn 5
Barton - Greg Epic 6
Anderson - Mark Fenn 7
Rice - Brendan Epic 8
Chalupsky - Oscar Epic 9
Berruyer - Pierre Fenn 10
De Speville - Simon Epic 11
Chalupsky - Herman Epic 12
Rossbotham - Leon Epic 13
Holmes - Hayden Fenn 14
Topfer - Danny Epic 15
Brown - Gordon   16
Rice - Shaun Epic 17
Leclezio Aenaud Double 18
Despeville Double 18
Mocke - Nikki Fenn 19
King - Tony Epic 20
Highman - Ruth Epic 21
Appel - Rene Epic 22
Eadie - Richard Epic 23
Manzenski - Boris Epic 24
Wiland - Lindsay Epic 25
Sands - Craig Epic 26
Barnes - Nick Epic 27
Harvey - Nigel Fenn 28
Quirk - Craig Epic 29
Gilmer - Dave Epic 30
Swart - Ben Fenn 31
Hanns - Nathan Epic 32
Sauzier - John   33
Geevers - Mark Epic 34
De Speville-Jean Baptiste   35
Jane   36
De Carmejane - Camille Epic 37
Henry - Dominic Double 38
Henry - Estelle Double 38
Parks - Kim Epic 39
Stafford Eddie   40
Brand - Charles Epic 41
Valet Jean Francois   42
Desvaux - Stephan   43
Lamusse Benoit   44
Audibert - Xavier Fenn 45
Lamusse Linda   46
Zlatarev - Boyan   DNF
Mousley - Rob   DNF

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