Sporty's Downwind Dash ** Results ** - Mauritius

Thursday, 28 June 2012 16:18 | Written by 
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Jean Jacques Fabien Jean Jacques Fabien

As I watched the white-haired paddler surf away, paddles down for the nth time I grimaced.  I consider myself to be a pretty competent downwind paddler – but he was putting half the effort in that I was and I just couldn’t catch him.

Gentle Downwind

This morning’s paddle was a 16km route from in front of the hotel out through the channel to the open ocean and downwind to Le Morne.

An hour before the start the flags on the beach started flapping a little more vigorously but there was still no sign of white-caps when the starting flag dropped.

But, given a fetch of several thousand km, you don’t need much breeze to kick up runs, and we knew it would be fun out there.  Not only that: there’s a funneling effect towards the tip of the island and the wind is always stronger near Le Morne (which explains why it’s a world renowned kite surfing site).

Rudder crunching start

Soon after the flag dropped and the 100-odd skis accelerated in a frothing, spray spouting mob, it became apparent why the race director had told us to stay close to shore.  Further out in the lagoon a forest of coral heads rose to the surface and tattoo of unpleasant thudding sounds told of a dozen bent rudders.  Despairing curses rang out and the left side of the field dropped back abruptly.

Mauritius Ocean Classic 2012

The Start

For the rest, it was around the can and directly out to sea through the channel.

The outgoing tidal current was kicking up a maelstrom of klapotis and I enjoyed, not for the first time, the sensation of paddling a stable intermediate boat…

“Hello mate, doing ok?” from a cheerful Dean Gardiner has he came alongside (briefly).  Through the gap, we turned towards Le Morne and he snaked off, accelerating away down the runs.

By now the front bunch, the Mocke brothers, McGregor, Bouman, Cotter et al were out of sight, their position marked by the flag bestrewn media boat far in the distance.  I heard later that Cotter had decided to use the race as a scouting opportunity, trying a line further inshore.  It didn’t pay off.

Heading for Le Morne

Heading towards Le Morne

Scratching for runs

The first few km were hard work. We were moving at almost the same speed as the wind and I rapidly started to overheat.  My heart rate was hovering at the 160bpm mark and I was definitely redlining whenever I accelerated to catch a run.

And that was when I spotted my white-haired friend up ahead looking ever so cool and collected as he’d take a few strokes, catch a run and then drop his paddles.

I realized I was paddling far too hard and consciously started to focus on working the runs, accelerating just enough to get on the wave and then backing off completely to try to stay on the crest as long as possible.

My HR declined to around 155bpm.  Much better!

White-caps and Le Morne

The last 3km or so, as expected, the wind increased and the waves grew bigger and steeper.  I changed gear, charging the runs and putting some highly satisfying sequences together.  Best of all I overtook my infuriating friend.  Much more like it.

I could see the breakers up ahead – and slightly to my left.  We were on a line too close to shore and the group stared working left to join a stream of skis who’d taken a deeper line.   100m ahead I spotted race director Anton Erasmus – and I started to reel him in…

Finally we reached the edge of the infamous Le Morne channel and turned towards shore.  Plenty of head swiveling showed how nervous the paddlers were – and I was no exception.  One or two brave souls edged right to try to catch the shoulder of the breakers – and one or two edged smartly back out into the channel as the next set reared up!

The wind, now brisk, was coming from the right, and my speed dropped right down and some of the fitter paddlers started to overtake me.

Runs through the channel

A couple of ocean swells rolled through from behind us and everyone accelerated briefly – and as we reached the inner reef a delightful little wave arrived and a couple of us were boosted a good 200m into the flat water of the lagoon.

Rob Mousley

This little wave boosted us about 200m through the channel - great!

Grinding to the finish

And now it was a solid slog – over a km in flat, shallow water to finish.  A fellow South African, sitting on my left slip, accelerated to take up the pull, but fell back after a few minutes.  “Can’t do it!” he grunted, and he sat there, apologizing, until, mercifully we crossed the line.

A few minutes later Anton arrived, having stopped to help a couple more paddlers who’d bent rudders in the shallow water.  Good on you, Anton!

Anton Erasmus

Anton Erasmus - not quite riding the wave!

Winners

It’s difficult to tell how hard the top guys were trying.  Hank McGregor and Dawid Mocke were together as they approached the channel.  McGregor said he put the hammer down and dropped Mocke.  Mocke said a cryptic “It was close until the infamous Le Morne reef pass; a slight error, game over.”

Suffice to say that it’s probable that no one at the front was going all out.  McGregor came in first followed by Mat Bouman, Dawid Mocke and Barry Lewin.

In the women’s race Ruth “I got taken out AGAIN in the channel” Highman (Aus) won, followed by Angie Mouden (France) and Kirsten Wessels (SA).

Ruth Highman

Ruth Highman - powering into first place

As for me – well, I came in 54th, about half way up the field.  It was a good day – hard work at the start and the finish, but we had some great fun in the runs along the way.

As for the Fat Paddlers – when we issued our challenge to them, we had no idea that they’d only started paddling surfskis in January this year…  They had a ball and raised a cheer as arrived at the finish.  Stout effort lads!  (Hmm… the second half of the challenge takes place at the bar this evening.  Having read Sean’s book – half last night and the second half this afternoon, cracking read – I now realize that novices at sea they may be, but not so much in the bar.  Wish us luck…)

Fat paddler

Sean Smith aka The Fat Paddler on his second ever downwind...

For anyone who hasn’t visited Mauritius and done this event – it’s bucket-list material, you just have to get here!

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Sporty's Downwind Dash - Results

NAMECOUNTRYBOAT NOPOSITIONTIME
MC GREGOR, HANK SOUTH AFRICA 102 1 01:03:24
BOUMAN, MATT SOUTH AFRICA 4 2 01:04:38
MOCKE, DAWID SOUTH AFRICA 1 3 01:04:40
LEWIN, BARRY SOUTH AFRICA 8 4 01:07:02
RESIDE, STUART AUSTRALIA 34 5 01:07:56
MOCKE, JASPER SOUTH AFRICA 3 6 01:07:57
BIRD, WILL AUSTRALIA 84 7 01:07:58
COOKE, LACHLAN AUSTRALIA 9 8 01:10:25
BEAVIS, JAMIE AUSTRALIA 26 9 01:10:28
BEAMENT, DEAN AUSTRALIA 11 10 01:10:30
ANDERSON, MARK AUSTRALIA 7 11 01:10:40
VON WILDERMANN, RICHARD SOUTH AFRICA 14 12 01:11:06
COTTER, JEREMY AUSTRALIA 105 12 01:11:06
TAYLOR, NICK AUSTRALIA 10 14 01:11:21
FIFILS, FRANK GUADALOUPE 104 15 01:11:42
KNOWLES, JAMES AUSTRALIA 13 16 01:12:12
CURRIN, BRENDAN SOUTH AFRICA 25 17 01:12:22
DOBLER, MICHAEL GERMANY 19 18 01:12:44
ROWETT, MATTHEW AUSTRALIA 82 19 01:13:02
CHARLES, PETER AUSTRALIA 41 20 01:13:08
BINGERMANN, MICHAEL AUSTRALIA 95 21 01:14:41
DOWNES, BRENDAN AUSTRALIA 51 22 01:14:42
BERRUYER, PIERRE REUNION 15 23 01:15:15
STANDLEY, JOHN DUBAI UAE 110 24 01:15:47
LUPTON SMITH, SEAN SOUTH AFRICA 72 25 01:15:48
CROTHERS, ANDREW AUSTRALIA 42 26 01:15:57
LAFORET, PAUL REUNION 27 27 01:16:33
HARDIE, MARK AUSTRALIA 32 28 01:17:01
BUTLER, SHAUN SOUTH AFRICA 16 29 01:17:09
FORD, MICHAEL WILLIAM AUSTRALIA 60 30 01:17:14
FAHEY, ADAM AUSTRALIA 66 31 01:17:51
DENNIS, WILLIAM AUSTRALIA 47 32 01:17:52
MARAIS, IAN SOUTH AFRICA 73 33 01:17:55
BAKER, ADAM SOUTH AFRICA 22 34 01:18:08
HIGHMAN, RUTH AUSTRALIA 111 35 01:18:10
CHALUPSKY, HERMAN SOUTH AFRICA 101 36 01:18:13
MOUDEN, ANGIE FRANCE 120 37 01:18:43
FENN, KEITH & JOSH SOUTH AFRICA 59 38 01:19:26
BOTHA, ANDRE SOUTH AFRICA 33 39 01:19:36
FOSTER, KEN AUSTRALIA 61 40 01:19:38
DE SPEVILLE, SIMON MAURITIUS 20 41 01:20:02
SMITH, MAT AUSTRALIA 87 42 01:20:20
TARR, GAVIN SOUTH AFRICA 85 43 01:20:26
SAUL, MURRAY AUSTRALIA 83 44 01:20:52
ALLOTT, BRYAN SOUTH AFRICA 38 45 01:20:58
HACKLAND, TONY AUSTRALIA 103 46 01:20:59
BINGHAM, KIM AUSTRALIA 29 47 01:21:15
KELLY, MARK SOUTH AFRICA 63 48 01:21:40
HEWLETT, JASON AUSTRALIA 65 49 01:21:47
BOY, JOSEPH SOUTH AFRICA 88 50 01:21:51
QUIRK, CHRIS AUSTRALIA 43 51 01:21:55
BORLAND, MIKE SOUTH AFRICA 31 52 01:21:23
ROBERTSON, BRUCE SOUTH AFRICA 81 53 01:21:24
MOUSLEY, ROB SOUTH AFRICA 75 54 01:22:35
ISAAC, ZAC SOUTH AFRICA 67 55 01:22:36
ANDREWS, CHAD SOUTH AFRICA 21 56 01:22:38
VENNIKER, RICHARD SOUTH AFRICA 92 57 01:22:46
HENRY, JEAN PHILIPPE MAURITIUS 121 58 01:23:02
WESSELS, KIRSTEN SOUTH AFRICA 113 59 01:23:05
LOUW, KERRY SOUTH AFRICA 112 60 01:24:27
JACOBS, MURRAY AUSTRALIA 23 61 01:24:54
GILMER, DAVID SOUTH AFRICA 44 62 01:24:55
SLATER, BRYAN SOUTH AFRICA 86 63 01:24:57
PURCHASE, TONY SOUTH AFRICA 55 63 01:24:57
BUTTON, DAVE SOUTH AFRICA 45 65 01:25:46
BUTTON, JACQUI SOUTH AFRICA 45 65 01:25:46
BATCHELOR, DAVE SOUTH AFRICA 24 66 01:25:47
VEGLIO, ANDRE MAURITIUS 130 67 01:26:04
STAFFORD,EDDIE MAURITIUS 123 68 01:26:11
TOMPSON, DEAN MAURITIUS 124 69 01:26:22
KILLINGBECK, STEPHEN ROSS AUSTRALIA 71 70 01:26:26
ERASMUS, ANTON SOUTH AFRICA 54 71 01:26:30
HARVEY, PHILIP AUSTRALIA 64 72 01:27:29
TILLEY, TREVOR AUSTRALIA 91 73 01:27:30
MYERS, STUART JAMES DAVID AUSTRALIA 76 74 01:27:51
HUME, IAN SOUTH AFRICA 48 75 01:28:04
HUGO, EUGENE NAMIBIA 58 76 01:28:20
PARKES, KIM SOUTH AFRICA 52 77 01:28:43
BLOUNT, PATRICK SOUTH AFRICA 30 78 01:28:57
WEBER, LAURENCE AUSTRALIA 94 79 01:29:02
BUCK, ROGER AUSTRALIA 37 80 01:30:09
SCANDIZZO, MARIANO UAE 108 81 01:31:29
REDMAN, TIM MAURITIUS 131 82 01:37:27
FERGUSSON, DAVID SOUTH AFRICA 53 83 01:38:08
COOK, JACQUELINE AUSTRALIA 119 84 01:38:20
MATTHEWS, TOM AUSTRALIA 69 85 01:38:29
ELLIOT, ROGER SOUTH AFRICA 50 86 01:38:38
DODDS, ROXANNE SOUTH AFRICA 56 87 01:39:53
MARTIN, ROXANNE SOUTH AFRICA 56 87 01:39:53
SIMPSON, TONY HONG KONG 74 88 01:42:20
LANGDON, KATE AUSTRALIA 117 89 01:42:20
PARRY, MICHEAEL SOUTH AFRICA 77 90 01:43:03
CABOCHE, ANDRE MAURITIUS 129 91 01:43:10
KEMP, PETER AUSTRALIA 70 92 01:48:42
BRADFORD, NATHANIEL AUSTRALIA 36 93 01:54:55
SMITH, SEAN PAUL AUSTRALIA 80 94 01:54:55

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