Southern California Race Series

Saturday, 17 November 2007 03:19 | Written by  Ian Grey
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Sat 10th November marked the season premier for the Southern California race series. Warm, sunny weather made for great conditions at La Jolla Shores, San Diego where the event was staged. With more than 250 competitors attending, it was sure to be a fast paced race from the start.

SoCal Surf Ski Series
Southern California Surf Ski Race Series takes off
 

Strong Field 

The day's racing began with a short course event of approximately 6 km. Boats of all different classes took part in this event including outriggers, surfskis, paddleboards and kneeboards. Junior surfski paddler Ryan Stock of San Diego Canoe & Kayak Club took first place in this event.

The long course event saw a strong field of surfski paddlers in the line-up. With the Olympic sprint kayak training centre situated just down the road from the race, many of the National sprint team came through to further raise the competitive bar at the event. Some of the race favorites included: Pat Dolan (08th at US Champs), Brandon Woods (09th at US Surfski Champs) and Rami Zur (Kayak Olympian) - placed 10th at US surfski champs.

SoCal Surf Ski series course map
Course map

The race course began with a deep water start, following a 16km circuit up and down the coast from a marker 1.5km offshore. The gentle Southerly swell would offer some assistance to the wave technicians against the current flowing down the coast. Otherwise gentle winds would favor the flat water specialists.

Uncertain Start 

As with most deep water starts, you can never be certain that the start of the race has been signaled. Rule of thumb though: when the rest of the field take-off - you follow. The start was electric, with the sprinters clearly flexing their prowess in the water. After 500m, a temporary diamond formation was formed up front with National sprinter Jeff Smoke in the lead and Olympians Rami Zur and Steyn alongside. Ian Gray found a place in the diamond making most use of the wash. Pat Dolan took off on a slightly shallower line - making use of the small swells running up the coast. Within 2km Pat had advanced 100m on the following pack. Small patches of floating kelp made for nasty little obstacles as even the slightest bit of drag on the boat could have huge consequences in the fast paced race. On the approach to the turn can 8km into the race, the field had split up somewhat, with Pat still leading, Ian in 2nd and Rami & Jeff not far behind. At the turn, it was Pat, Jeff and Ian all together.

Pat Dolan SoCal Surf Ski Series
Pat Dolan leads Jeff Smoke and Ian Grey at the half-way point

Second half dice 

Jeff accelerated out of the turn with Ian and Pat holding his wash. Taking a slightly deeper line, the pace increased as the boats now travelled with the current. I took a glance at the Garmin - 15km/h. Within no time, the underlying kelp had found its victim. I watched my speed drop to 13km/h and knew that I had been nabbed.  A quick stop and back paddle can cost 50m in no time. Pat was the next to fall victim as he decelerated quickly. I took the opportunity to advance passed him with Rami not far behind me now. Jeff held a consistent lead for most of the back stretch, powering along with his paddle shaft and blade size at sprint setup. Rami took a shallower line on the back run, slowly advancing up to Jeff and Ian. With 1km to go, there wasn't much in it. I knew that I had to make a move sooner or later, or else I would be up against some of the fastest short distance paddlers in the world to the finish. Unable to make the advance that I would have liked, it was down to a duel between Rami and Jeff over the last 500m stretch. Rami powered away on the small beach ward swells and held the lead through to the finish. Jeff followed close behind and I held my place to finish 3rd.

With 3 weeks to go to the Dubai race, this was a great event to prepare for the much awaited International surfski event that is the Dubai Shamaal.

US National sprinters Jeff Smoke, Rami Zur and Tim Hornsby, SoCal Surf Ski Series
US National sprinters Jeff Smoke, Rami Zur and Tim Hornsby at the race prize-giving

Results Summary

Place

Canoe #

name

division

time

points

div place

1

35

rami zur

ssm-o

1.07.09

12

1

2

282

jeff smoke

ssm-o

1.07.14

11

2

3

612

ian gray

ssm-o

1.07.35

10

3

4

284

tim hornsby

ssm-o

1.07.38

9

4

5

213

patrick dolan

stock//ssm-o

1.09.45

8

 

6

242

mark nicholson

ssm-o

1.11.05

7

 

7

147

morgan house

ssm-o

1.11.12

6

 

8

507

eric abbott

ul//ssm-o

1.11.107

5

 

9

276

anders gufstafsson

ssm-o

1.11.25

4

 

10

133

barlow chris

ssm-mstr

1.11.41

3

1

11

167

noah hawk

ssm-o

1.11.43

2

 

12

3

patrick hemmens

ssm-mstr

1.12.57

1

2

 


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