Double Millers Run - Video

Saturday, 07 April 2007 18:24 | Written by 
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ImageForecast (on Buoyweather.com): "Gale Warning. Very windy conditions with rough seas

Small craft advisory: Large long period swell

Winds: SE 27 to 35kts

Seas: SW 14ft at 13sec"

Translation: "Yee haa!"

Anticipation

During the week I was scanning Buoyweather at least four times a day.  At this time of year in Cape Town, the SE winds become scarce as autumn sets in and we make the most of any opportunity to get on a downwind run.

As the forecast hardened, it became clear that we were in for a good one on Friday and one of the guys came up with the stunning idea of doing two Millers runs back to back.  What an awesome plan...

Feeling all puffed up with heroics I called Dawid Mocke - "we're going to do two Millers runs back to back," I announced.  "That's nice," he replied, "I'm training for Molokai so I'm going to do... six!  But I'll join you for the first two!"

It turned out that we actually joined him - he'd had to cancel surf ski school and brought along the school trailer, vastly simplifying our logistics (normally we have to leave some vehicles at either end of the course).  His dad had volunteered to drive.

 

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Mousley receives last minute tips from Dawid Mocke

Apart from our regular group, we had two newbies - Heidi Koch and Louis Carstens, neither of whom had done a Millers run.  On seeing the conditions, both were understandably nervous: the bay was a mass of white water and the wind was pumping a good 30 to 35kts.

Surfski.info founder Alain Jaques decided to sit the first run out - so I handed him my video camera.

Nikki Mocke

A gleeful Nikki Mocke (Dawid's wife) also joined us.  Her focus this year has been K1 sprint paddling and she'd just come back from a month long training camp.  Normally the sprinters are strictly forbidden to paddle on the sea - but Nikki's coach had gone away for Easter weekend.  While coach is away...

 

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Preparation - Nikki Mocke escapes from K1 camp...
 

 

First Run

On a "hectic" scale of 1 to 10, the first run was about 7.5.  The wind was strong - definitely upwards of 30kts but the waves weren't enormous.  There was the usual build up of bigger waves just before the lighthouse and just before the entrance to Fish Hoek bay; there were some breaking cross-waves but all in all it was a classic Millers.

 

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Heading out to Bakoven Rock
 

 

Conscious of the fact that we'd be out a second time and that the wind and waves were forecast to increase, I deliberately didn't charge every wave, instead trying to work the waves in such a way as to conserve energy.  The fact that we weren't racing for a change also helped...  John was keeping an eye on Louis; Damian was on the double with Heidi and Rob was paddling conservatively having broken a rudder cable the day before.

Just after the lighthouse I was feeling very relaxed and confident (i.e. I'd lost focus) when a steep wave boosted the tail of my ski up.  Before I knew it, I'd broached and the crest of the wave was breaking right onto me.  

 

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Coming past Sunny Cove (Shark Alley)
 

 

The next wake up call occurred as I was coming into the beach - I was looking at the clubhouse to see if there was anyone filming when I realised I was almost in the shore break.  I pulled out of a wave just as it broke on the tail of the ski - spinning me round so that I was facing out to sea again...  I paddled straight out, pulled myself together and came in again, paying a little more respect to the sea.

The wind was strong enough to make it extremely difficult to carry my ski up the beach.  I almost lost control of it as the wind whipped it around but a kind passer by grabbed the tail and steadied it as we walked up to the clubhouse.

Second Run

A bottle of Fast Fuel, an energy bar and a hot cross bun, and we were on our way again in the back of Dawid's pick up.  Before we had time to get cold, we were on the skis and setting off for our second run.

Contrary to expectations, the wind seemed to have dropped a little - and the waves had straightened out somewhat.  I actually enjoyed the second run more than the first - there wasn't so much violent cross chop and I could focus on chasing down the runs from wave to wave.  Millers run hectic rating: 6.5

 

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Damian & Heidi shoot down a big run
 

 

We have evidence on video (unfortunately rather blurred!) of Rudder Boy (Damian) taking a dive just outside Fish Hoek whilst making a monumental effort to stay ahead of the Cable Guy (Rob B) who'd sneaked through on an inside line.  Rumour has it that John goofed a couple of times on the second run too.

Post Mortems, Beer and Spare Ribs

After a welcome hot shower, the group repaired to the Southern Right restaurant near Glen Cairn beach to discuss the runs, look at the footage, eat and drink lots of beer.

 

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Al & Janet check the footage...
 

 

As we were climbing into the first round, we saw Dawid's pickup drive by with a single lonely ski sitting on the trailer... Dawid off to do his third run.

We were still there when we saw the trailer again - this time there were three skis: Dawid had obviously recruited some company!

What a great day

While we didn't put anything like the effort expended by Dawid on his marathon six runs, we'd done a good 25km of hard paddling - there's nothing like a good downwind: it's like sprint training, only several orders of magnitude more fun.

Louis was chuffed as a newt with his first Millers and Heidi couldn't stop talking about her trip on the back of Damian's double.  Apparently she couldn't stop talking during the paddle either - she thought Damian was heading into the wrong bay until they got close enough that she could see that her bay was Glen Cairn, not Fish Hoek.  Hence -her new nickname "Nav-girl".

The video

I slapped together this video from the shots that Alain took from the shore.  One lesson learnt - when filming with the camera zoomed in, you have to have a tripod.  Next time we're going to take film from a speed boat accompanying the paddlers too.

 

A Note on Safety

In the image below note how the paddles stand out - they're spray painted with neon pink...

 

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Note how the pink paddles stand out
 

 

 

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Ankle leash

And I can highly recommend using an ankle leash if you're paddling in the open ocean - this one is from Huki (www.huki.com) as is my high visibility paddling shirt...  The ankle leash is there to stop my ski being blown away from me out at sea - but is quick to undo before I hit the surf zone near the beach.  


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