Sean Rice wins 2010 Cape Point Challenge **pics & full results**

Monday, 20 December 2010 16:26 | Written by 
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Cape Point! Cape Point! Credits: Owen Middleton, Sally Mellish

Two hours into the race, just 4km from Cape Point, the 8-man pack hit the hit the kelp beds and everything changed. Hank McGregor and Dawid Mocke lurched to a halt, their rudders caught on the thick rubbery stems; Tom Schilperoort, in clear water, accelerated away, rounding the Point a clear 100m ahead.  A good gap for the downwind leg but would it be enough?

Cape Point, the event

Now in its 30th year, to us Capetonians, this 50km iconic race is one of the classics.  Sure, I'm biased, it’s in my back yard, but it has all the ingredients to test a ski paddler's mettle: open ocean paddling on the Atlantic; the romance (and terror) of the “Cape of Storms”; the challenge of simply keeping going for 50km but most of all the sheer beauty of the coastline and, most spectacularly, those craggy 1,000ft sheer cliffs at Cape Point.

And like many of the extreme races, it has a camaraderie and spirit of its own.

Cape Point

The spectacular cliffs at Cape Point

Start – and slipstreaming

The start at Scarborough was gentle – the batches were sent off at intervals from 05h30 (slowest) to 06h20 (elite doubles) through a non-existent shore break and headed off into a 5kt easterly breeze.  The sea was virtually flat so it was going to be a relatively easy passage down to the Point.  There wasn’t going to be any help from wind or waves from there to the finish at Fish Hoek.

Cape Point Challenge 2010

Glassy conditions met the paddlers as they set off for Cape Point

Cape Point Challenge 2010

The batches immediately formed packs, each ski slipstreaming the one in front

The trick with this race – as with any long distance race – is to avoid pulling the bunch.  In the old days, when the race was 6km longer and stopped at Buffels Bay for a 10min safety stop, the adage was, “the race starts at Buffels”.  Now, it’s “the race starts at the Point”.

So the batches immediately sort themselves out into long trains of skis, with some poor sucker at the front “pulling” while everyone else focuses intently on staying in their spot behind the ski in front, conserving energy.

But what do you do, when you’re feeling strong and invincible?  We headed out at the front of our batch, averaging around 12kph and we were feeling fine.  I didn’t think I was working too hard; my heart rate was at an acceptable 140bpm or so.

Another double crewed by two characters from Johannesburg (“The Pilot” - giving navigational advice - and “Washy” – as in “Come on Washy, put some effort in”) was on our sideslip.  After a while, they offered to take up the pull and moved ahead.  They soon slowed down however to around 11.5kph and I could sense that my driver was getting impatient.  “We’ve slowed down,” he said.  “How are you feeling?”  “I’m fine,” I replied, and we took off again to the front.

16km into the race, the big NSRI sea rescue launch passed some distance out to sea; a set of huge wake waves came rolling from behind us and the bunch exploded as we all jumped onto them.  For the next km, we were chasing the runs, enjoying the brief relief from the tedium of grinding on the flat.

After the sea and excitement died down we found ourselves at the back of a bunch of three, where we stayed as we approached the “false cape”, Cape Maclear.  Looking left we spotted the elite singles’ batch who had caught up.

Beautiful sight

They were truly awesome to behold: led at that point by Tom Schilperoort, they were cruising along at about 12.5kph, their paddles looping smoothly.  The youngsters in the lead double of our mini-group eased over and caught the last single’s slip.  For about five minutes we all upped our stroke rate to stay with the singles – but we couldn’t hold them and we dropped back, our speed now only 11.5kph.

The rest of our group put in an interval and caught us.  Back to square one.

 

My Garmin track & HR data

Kelp – and choppy water

We’d avoided nearly all the kelp beds on our way down the coastline, but now we hit a bank of them, just before Cape MacLear.  Again our group broke up, and the skis twisted and turned as they tried to find a clear passage through the kelp thickets.

And then we were into rough water.

The section between Cape MacLear and Cape Point – about 4km long – is some of the choppiest, messiest water to be found on the Cape Coast.  Our speed deteriorated markedly and my driver seemed to find the boat excessively twitchy.  My puzzled remark that “it’s not that bad!” was met with an indistinct grunt.  Later it transpired that Dale’s stomach muscles had lost all their strength and he was battling to sit upright.

We ground on through the messy water; skis overtaking us on all sides.

25km to the finish

Cape Point marks the half way point almost exactly.

It also marks the spot that we’d planned to refuel ourselves with gels.  Some days before, Dale had poured scorn on my mid-air refuelling arrangements – four sachets duct taped to the sides of my cockpit.  I reckoned I could tear the tops off the sachets by ripping them with the edge of the tape – a quick squeeze and I’d have a mouthful of the revitalising fluid.

“You should use my method,” said the boss.  “I put diluted gel into a squeeze bottle.  I just have to lift it to my mouth, squeeze, and away I go.”

Some things just never go to plan.  I duly ripped my first packet off, the top of the sachet neatly removed by the tape.  But the packet had been sealed (as had all four of them) too far down the neck – so it was still sealed after I’d ripped the top off.  Swearing, I tore at it with my teeth, spitting and trying not to ingest the plastic.

Then it was Dale’s turn.

Instead of the usual smooth pick-up of his bottle, a frantic, wobbling scramble ensued as he fought to get the damn thing out of his PFD pocket.  Out went his legs, the ski came to a dead stop and finally things seemed to be under control.  Whereupon he exploded in a fit of coughing, more wobbles and we nearly fell out.  “What happened?”  “Squirted the bloody stuff down the back of my throat,” he spluttered.

That was the last humorous thing that happened.

“My stomach muscles have gone,” Dale said.  “How are you feeling?”  “Stuffed,” I replied.

Yep, we’d hit the wall with a soggy and resounding thud.  Not so much a puncture as a spectacular blow-out.

Frustration and agony

What made the situation so frustrating was that until a few minutes ago we’d been feeling fine – we’d had a great race up to the 21km mark.

But we’d had the stuffing knocked out of us; the Pilot and Washy, whom we’d dropped forty minutes earlier, surged past as though we were standing still.

Cape Point Challenge 2010

The Pilot and Washy overtaking us after the Point

The next two hours went by in a haze.  I can remember watching the landmarks – Batsata Rock; Partridge Point; Millers Point; Ark Rock as they crawled past in slow motion.  I refused to look at the Roman Rock lighthouse – the bloody thing never got closer.  I was eventually reduced to counting strokes – about 240 to the km.

I took another gel.  “These bloody gels don’t seem to make any difference,” I whinged to the captain.  He gave a half grunt/half rueful chuckle.  Finally we passed the lighthouse and I took my third and last gel.  There was another convulsion up front and Dale’s legs appeared on deck as the ski slewed to a halt.  “Cramp,” he gasped.

Blow out

The wheels fall off

Father and son Butler came steaming past.  “Come on guys, only 5 clicks to go!” came a cheery bellow.  Galvanised into action, and perhaps assisted more than I realised by the gels, we managed 11.5kph again for a couple of km before our speed inevitably dropped off again.

The battle at the front

Shortly after they passed us, the leaders had hit the kelp beds just before the Point.  Tom Schilperoort found a clear passage and made a break, with Sean Rice not far behind.

“We turned the Point and Tom was real strong,” said Rice, “but I passed him about 3kms later and now the race was on, I guess!

“From there it was just a mind game, you had to reward yourself with goos every now and again and try and keep the spirits up.

“I knew Hank was on the outside, and tried to cover him. And it worked out perfectly – home ground advantage, you know.”

Cape Point Challenge 2010

Cape Point Challenge 2010

The moment the lead paddlers broke away

Stuck in the kelp

“We got stuck in the kelp a little bit, myself and Dawid,” McGregor confirmed. “But we didn’t panic, we just stayed together. Tom and Sean got away a bit, they had about 100m on us.

“And then we turned – I think I was in fifth place. I passed Jasper, and then it was Dawid neck-and-neck for the next hour, to Miller’s Point, and then he took an inside line, and I just stayed out deep.

Dawid Mocke and Hank McGregor

Hank McGregor and Dawid Mocke "neck and neck"

“I backed my line, but it didn’t seem to pay off and in the last 3kms, once Dawid blew, it was a race to try to catch Sean, but I didn’t manage to do that.

“He had a good race, and all credit to him.”

Sean Rice romped home in the end – finishing in 3:40:33 nearly two minutes ahead of Hank McGregor who crossed the line in 3:42:39.  A huge win for the stocky 21 year old.

Sean Rice

Sean Rice powers to the finish at Fish Hoek Beach

Women’s Race

Michele Eray and Nikki Mocke started together in the singles B-batch and worked together out to the Point.

“I thought the conditions were really good – we couldn’t have asked for anything better, really!” Eray said on the beach.

“It was pretty flat, so we got really close to the Point.  Nikki and I stuck together all the way to the Point.

Michele Eray

Michele Eray

“From there obviously the race begins. Nikki took quite an inside line. I went more right – a bit wider. Initially she got ahead, because the runs were going into Smitswinkel Bay.

“But I thought she’d run out of water and took a more conservative line, far wider. I didn’t catch as many runs as I would liked to have, but I thought I’d save myself for the second half. I had a bit of a wobbly at Miller’s Point, but overall I felt good!”

She  went on, of course, to win – her tactics having paid off – in a time of 4:09:29, 12th over all.  Mocke, second woman home, was 4 places back and finished in 4:16:49.

One of the performances of the day however was that of third place woman, 20 year old Bianca Beavitt who not only finished this race in 4:30:40, but did it on the back of completing the Southern Shamaal PE2EL challenge just 6 days previously.  Respect!

Bianca Beavitt

Bianca Beavitt leaves Cape Point

Doubles Race

The hotly competed doubles race (49 boats, a record number) was won by Brendan Thompson and Bevan Manson (who had also competed in the Southern Shamaal, Thompson in doubles, Manson in singles) in a time of 3:47:28 – nearly seven minutes shy of Sean Rice’s time.

In second place was Pete Cole and Kwanda Mhlophe – a great result for the young Zulu on his first race (and only second paddle) on the sea.

Cape Point Challenge 2010

Pete Cole and Kwanda Mhlope, looking strong

Finished – in more ways than one

As for us - we blundered in to a rapturous welcome from the huge crowd on the beach in a magnificent time (I don’t think) of 4:37:42...

The beer was good.


Galleries

by Owen Middleton (www.omimages.co.za)

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Thanks

A big shout out to the organisers – Pete Cole and the Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club.  The race is always immaculately run and the weather actually couldn’t have been better; no-one needed rescuing and everyone finished the race.

In the next few weeks, the painful memories will have receded and we’ll be ready to do it again.

One sobering thought: the guys who did the Southern Shamaal PE2EL race a week ago did more mileage in more challenging conditions... every day for four days!  Respect!


Results - 2010 Fenn Cape Point Challenge

Single Skis

PosNameTimeScoreAge
1 SEAN RICE 03:40:43:00 100% Senior
2 HANK MCGREGOR 03:42:39:00 99.12% Senior
3 SIMON VAN GYSEN 03:45:38:00 97.77% Senior
4 DAWID MOCKE 03:46:21:00 97.45% Senior
5 JASPER MOCKE 03:48:16:00 96.58% Senior
6 TOM SCHILPEROORT 03:49:01:00 96.24% Senior
7 GRAEME SOLOMON 03:55:12:00 93.44% Senior
8 GRANT VAN DER WALT 03:58:26:00 91.97% Senior
9 ADAM BOTHMA 04:05:01:00 88.99% Senior
10 JAYDEN ALFORD-LOOTS 04:07:23:00 87.92% Senior
11 MARC HOLTZHAUSEN 04:07:40:00 87.79% Senior
12 MICHELLE ERAY 04:09:29:00 86.97% Woman
13 ALASDAIR GLASS 04:12:11:00 85.74% Senior
14 QUINTON MILLER 04:12:33:00 85.58% Vet
15 DANIEL KANTOR 04:14:02:00 84.91% Senior
16 NIKKI MOCKE 04:16:49:00 83.64% Woman
17 PETER JONES 04:17:05:00 83.52% Vet
18 ROB HART 04:18:21:00 82.95% Vet
19 ASHLEY CARSTENS 04:18:53:00 82.71% Senior
20 RICHARD VON WILDERMANN 04:22:13:00 81.2% Senior
21 JASON AUBIN 04:22:44:00 80.96% Junior
22 JOHN DE SMIDT 04:23:20:00 80.69% Master
23 ANTON HOLTZHAUSEN 04:23:40:00 80.54% Vet
24 HENRI VAN DER MERWE 04:25:18:00 79.8% Vet
25 NEAL STEPHENSON 04:27:10:00 78.95% Senior
26 STEPHAN DU TOIT 04:28:05:00 78.54% Vet
27 LYLE MAASDORP 04:29:39:00 77.83% Senior
28 DAAN DU TOIT 04:30:21:00 77.51% Senior
29 ROB MEINTJES 04:30:34:00 77.41% Vet
30 BIANCA BEAVITT 04:30:40:00 77.37% Woman
31 GAVIN MCNISH 04:30:47:00 77.32% Vet
32 CHRIS DE WAAL 04:31:11:00 77.14% Vet
33 RALPH TEULINGS 04:31:24:00 77.04% Master
34 GUY BALME 04:31:35:00 76.95% Senior
35 D EVANS 04:33:01:00 76.3% Vet
36 ANDREW ROSS 04:33:53:00 75.91% Senior
37 BARRY MEIRING 04:33:56:00 75.89% Vet
38 MARC ECONOMOU 04:35:11:00 75.32% Senior
39 DAANTJIE MALAN 04:35:22:00 75.24% Master
40 ANTONY LAKE 04:42:39:00 71.94% Junior
41 BRUCE BRAUTESETH 04:42:39:00 71.94% Senior
42 ANDREW TORR 04:43:31:00 71.55% Master
43 CRAIG SUTHERLAND 04:45:11:00 70.79% Vet
44 MICHAEL MARTIN 04:45:54:00 70.47% Senior
45 JEAN TRESFON 04:45:56:00 70.45% Senior
46 CHRIS GRINTON 04:46:14:00 70.32% Vet
47 GARY KROUKAMP 04:47:46:00 69.62% Vet
48 GREG BARNARD 04:48:10:00 69.44% Senior
49 MARC NORTJE 04:48:50:00 69.14% Senior
50 JASON BERRY 04:49:55:00 68.65% Senior
51 PAUL JENKINS 04:49:59:00 68.62% Senior
52 ANDRE JOOSTE 04:51:58:00 67.72% Vet
53 ADRIAAN HOEBEN 04:55:48:00 65.98% Senior
54 CRAIG SALAMONE 04:55:51:00 65.96% Senior
55 PIERRE BESTER 04:58:10:00 64.91% Vet
56 JACQUES WEGES 05:00:30:00 63.85% Senior
57 GARTH MULHOLLAND 05:00:44:00 63.75% Vet
58 GEORGE HALL 05:02:28:00 62.96% Vet
59 DARRYL WOOD 05:05:56:00 61.39% Vet
60 KIRSTIN WESSELS 05:06:08:00 61.3% Woman
61 JONATHAN THOMPSON 05:06:38:00 61.07% Vet
62 DANIEL SCHILPEROORT 05:08:54:00 60.05% Senior
63 NICO DE WET 05:10:05:00 59.51% Senior
64 RUSSELL SEYMOUR 05:10:39:00 59.25% Vet
65 ROBYN SMITH 05:11:23:00 58.92% Woman
66 CLYDE BARENDSE 05:12:36:00 58.37% Senior
67 MARK BECK 05:13:55:00 57.77% Vet
68 ANDREW AUBIN 05:18:16:00 55.8% Vet
69 KEVIN BRUNETTE 05:18:56:00 55.5% Master
70 ANDREW BROUCKAERT 05:20:00:00 55.02% Vet
71 ANDREW GILLESPIE 05:23:48:00 53.3% Vet
72 MURRAY WILLIAMS 05:24:11:00 53.12% Vet
73 ROBERT SOINE 05:32:20:00 49.43% Senior

Double Skis

PosName 1Name 2TimeAge
1 BRENDAN THOMPSON BEVAN MANSON 03:47:28:00 Senior
2 PETER COLE KWANDA MHLOPHE 03:47:53:00 Senior
3 EUGENE VAN DER WESTHUIZEN RICK DAMAN 03:51:22:00 Vet
4 WARREN VALENTINE KEN COLLINS 03:51:33:00 Senior
5 STEVE COHEN JAYSEN GOLDING 03:55:18:00 Senior
6 STEVE FARRELL RICHARD CELE 03:56:45:00 Senior
7 CRAIG WALLAND DONOVAN MANSFIELD 03:59:58:00 Senior
8 JEAN AUSTIN KYLE NELL 04:00:40:00 Senior
9 CRAIG FLANAGAN DOMINIC NOTTEN 04:01:04:00 Junior
10 GUY MC CORMACK SIMON GROUT 04:03:42:00 Senior
11 IAN TRAUTMANN NATASCHA BRACALE 04:04:20:00 Mixed
12 MIKE SCHWAN LARRY SAUS 04:07:08:00 Senior
13 HAYDN SKINNER KERRY LOUW 04:07:21:00 Mixed
14 ANDREW MC PHERSON NEIL BARROW 04:08:04:00 Senior
15 JUSTIN MADDOCK KENNETH RICE 04:09:38:00 Senior
16 ANTON CARTWRIGHT GARTH WATTERS 04:09:41:00 Senior
17 JOHAN SWART BURGER COETZEE 04:10:37:00 Senior
18 MORAY WILSON JEAN WILSON 04:11:40:00 Mixed
19 KYLE HARRIS ANDREW BEVERIDGE 04:12:35:00 Senior
20 JAMII HAMLIN JUSTIN SWART 04:14:05:00 Senior
21 HERBERT CONRADIE MARCEL BASSON 04:14:19:00 Senior
22 ALAN MILLS DUNCAN SIEGFRIED 04:15:14:00 Vet
23 NEIL BAILEY ANTJE MANFRONI 04:15:32:00 Mixed
24 DION JOUBERT STUART JONES 04:16:04:00 Vet
25 CRAIG BUTLER SHAUN BUTLER 04:16:05:00 Senior
26 MARAIS STEYN RUSSELL IKIN 04:17:07:00 Vet
27 CARLO NATALI GRAHAM NEATE 04:20:36:00 Vet
28 FRANS RADLOFF FYNN CORRY 04:21:36:00 Senior
29 ANDY MC PHERSON TREVOR DISTIN 04:21:58:00 Master
30 CHRISTO SMIT ROBIN VAN ROOYEN 04:27:24:00 Master
31 MARK JOHNSON RUSSELL SOLOMON 04:29:12:00 Vet
32 ASHLEY BARNES DOMINIC STRANO 04:29:20:00 Senior
33 DAVID BLACK RYAN MCCAUGHEY 04:29:45:00 Senior
34 COLIN ALEXANDER BRETT STEYN 04:30:24:00 Senior
35 KIM BRUGMANN KERRI ANDERSON 04:31:06:00 Women
36 GERHARD NEL SCHEEPERS SCHOEMAN 04:31:46:00 Senior
37 KEVIN GOODSPEED CRAIG MOCKFORD 04:34:03:00 Senior
38 ANDREW ROWLES BRAAM VAN WYK 04:34:34:00 Senior
39 ROB MOUSLEY DALE LIPPSTREU 04:37:42:00 Vet
40 LIS HART ROBYN HENDERSON 04:38:19:00 Women
41 FOUCHE WHITEHEAD JOHAN VAN ROOYEN 04:41:24:00 Vet
42 GARETH PINKNEY FRANCOIS SISAM 04:43:47:00 Senior
43 BRAD ROTHENBURG IAIN HUME 04:43:48:00 Vet
44 LOUIS CARSTENS SHANDOR CYLVAN 04:46:54:00 Senior
45 IAIN HOOPER CHRIS BROWN 04:47:23:00 Vet
46 GORDON TRIPP PATRICK ELEY 04:52:51:00 Master
47 NICK HAVEMANN ALISTER REID 04:54:07:00 Senior
48 TIM FIRTH CHRISTIAN SMITH 04:55:40:00 Vet
49 DAVE PHELP KYLE MAHOOD 05:07:45:00 Vet

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