Discovery Men's Health Series ends on a high...

Tuesday, 13 December 2005 17:27 | Written by 
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(by Rob Mousley) 

The Discovery Men's Health Single Ski Series in Cape Town ended on Sunday with the William Simpson Peter Creese Lighthouse race...  (What a mouthful!)  What an awesome race.

For many in the field, it was the also the last hard paddle before the Cape Point Challenge, the 56km race being run on Saturday 17th December.

Race 8 Briefing (Photo: Hazel McQueen)Given the conditions (a fairly stiff breeze coming from the south south east along with some 3-4ft sets), Billy Harker (race organiser extraordinaire) opted for a reverse order start. This meant sending the slower paddlers out first to be chased by the faster groups, thus keeping the fleet in a more compact bunch and making life easier for the rescue crews.

A short course option saw 12 single skis tearing around buoys set in Fish Hoek bay, while the rest of the fleet were to paddle directly from the beach to Roman Rock Lighthouse some 5km away and back.  Given the short distance of just over 10km, it was going to be a sprint all the way.

This was the writer's first start in the B-grade batch, and I was keen to start well.  The C, D & E graders set off and the five minute interval period seemed to last for ever.  Finally the gun sounded.  Oops, quickly hit the GPS to start the timer; leap onto the ski; give a mighty heave, and I go straight over the side into the drink, splashing, spluttering and swearing.  The group vanish rapidly into the distance as I and another paddler who'd done the same comical turn (Hello Nick!) scramble back onto our skis.  

The dismal start had the effect of a boot up the backside and we soon made ground on the group's tail-enders. Nick latched onto the group - but it was heading north of the lighthouse and I opted to take a more direct line.  Either this worked or I was so mad at myself that I found a groove and started paddling well.  Either way, I caught up with the next group as we drew close to the lighthouse.  

Suddenly, a squad of Men in Black (the "elite" grade paddlers in black vests headed by Dawid Mocke) came rocketing past on the inside.  Precision machines, they rounded the rock impossibly close and vanished in clouds of paddle driven spray towards Fish Hoek.

A minute (or so) later as I rounded the rock I spied the diminutive figure of Bronwen Hobbs on her Red7 Surf 60.  "She's doing well," I thought condescendingly, "but she'll eat my spray in about 25 seconds..."  Not so - Bronwen was off like a rocket down the runs, and spurred on by a needled ego I told myself to stop looking at other skis and to focus on catching the waves.  Which were honest, requiring real effort to catch.

But I did spy the distant black vest group taking a line closer to Simonstown than the main fleet.  "Aha!" thinks I, "they've done that for a reason..."  And I angled off in the same direction.  This seemed to pay off; the runs were better, particularly as we approached Fish Hoek Bay and the choice of line was confirmed a little while later as the top doubles paddlers powered past.

Close the beach I looked frantically for a wave to catch, but I'd arrived during a lull in the sets.  Glancing back I saw a biggish wave beginning to peak and sprinted frantically to keep ahead of it.  I had visions of half a dozen paddlers speeding past me but they all seemed to miss the wave, a couple of them broaching broadside to it.  

As I arrived I was all set to sprint up the beach - but no, there was severe congestion at the finish. No fewer than eight other skis had finished in the 25 seconds before me and the timekeepers were frantic trying to capture the ski numbers...

A great race - perfect "last blast" before the Cape Point.  The usual impeccable organisation.  Shot Billy!

Photo: Hazel McQueenPhoto: Hazel McQueen

Dawid Mocke won the race in 48:05 with Peter Cole some 15 seconds off the pace.  Following close behind were a number of Cape Point contenders: Graeme Soloman, Jullian Callebaut and Paul Marais to name but a couple.  In the mix were the leading doubles, the crew of Joe Kearney and Edgar Boehm (jnr) trailing Dawid by 10 seconds with Andrew Ross and Andrew Torr 85 seconds further back.

Photo: Hazel McQueenThe ladies race was once again taken in consummate style by Nikki Mocke who achieved a 90.35% result. Kim Rew was second with Donia Kamstra third.

The overall series results weren't available at the time of writing - except that the men's title was taken by Dawid Mocke; the lady's by his wife, Nikki.  What an awesome pair.

And so the singles series draws to a close. The Discovery Men's Health Double Ski Series kicks off on 13 January 2006 with the Re-launch Party and the first race on 15th January.

The photos shown here are all by Hazel McQueen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) - check www.surfski.co.za for more of them.  For a small fee she'll send you  the hi-res versions for printing.


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