2010 TRINIDAD NORTH COAST CHALLENGE

Friday, 09 April 2010 09:28 | Written by  David Esdale
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The 2010 Blue Waters and Monster Energy Trinidad North Coast Challenge demonstrated that sea conditions are never what they appear to be.

Trinidad North Coast Challenge 2010

Mark Addison (3rd), Philippe Boccara (1st) and Franck Fifils (2nd)

Philippe Boccara

Once again the Trinidad Surfski Club was thankful that Philippe Boccara accepted our invitation to attend the event and conduct training clinics the week before the race. This training was very beneficial to both our experienced paddlers and many new paddlers. Philippe won the 2009 race, edging out Derek Bezuidenhout and Stuart Knaggs. Unfortunately, Derek and Stuart were unable to attend this year, but Franck Fifils was able to make the trip down from Guadeloupe to give Philippe some competition. It was great to see Franck once again to discuss Caribbean paddling with him.

New Course

In 2009 the course for the race had to be changed at the last minute as sea conditions made the planned start location, at Blanchisseuse, too difficult to launch the boats from. This year a new course was planned with a beach start from a generally calm beach, Las Cuevas, and the finish at a sheltered beach, Macqueripe, 27km down wind. Now in its third year the Trinidad North Coast Challenge has seen three different courses used. Regardless of the chosen course the waters off Trinidad’s north coast seem to always prove challenging to the competitors.

Hot & Flat

When the competitors arrived on Las Cuevas beach for the 10 am start there were a few disappointed faces and a few happy faces. The sea was as calm as a lake, the sun was hot and sky was clear blue.

At the race briefing competitors were reminded that despite the conditions safety is of utmost importance (i.e. wear a PFD, and attach oneself to the boat). Instructions were given on the use of flares donated by Marine Safety Equipment.

Trinidad North Coast Challenge 2010

Ready to start

With a beach start the competitors were off and heading quickly out to sea. As expected, a front four quickly emerged with Philippe and Franck joined by local paddlers Mark Addison and Ryan Mendes. Mark who has only been paddling a surfski since last August had been training hard hoping to finish ahead of Ryan who had been the top local paddler in prior years.

Wind & Chop

Once out of the protected bay, it was apparent that things were not as they appeared to be from shore. A strong wind behind the paddlers was creating some swells. However, the waves were not consistent and proved difficult to catch. Some of the paddlers chose to head far out to sea to avoid the reflective waves being created by the rocky shoreline. This tactic didn’t prove to be very beneficial as the final results seemed to match general paddling ability rather than any particular race strategy. Johan Sydow went far out to sea but still finished just ahead of David Hackshaw who stayed close to shore.

Trinidad North Coast Challenge 2010

View of the first part of the course

At the back, the inexperience in these unsettled conditions and/or the lack of fitness was taking its toll. While paddlers could catch the odd wave, it required a big sprint to do so. Quite often those sprints proved ineffective. The inexperience also led to errors which frequently left the boat swamped by the breaking waves. Tired and frustrated. David Esdale and Gerard Ferriera resigned from the race. Michel Bocarra and Nina Chaves persevered and completed the race despite the frustrations. Nina, the top local female, is usually very stable on her surfski, but admitted to “swimming” on two occasions during the race.

Trinidad North Coast Challenge 2010

David Hackshaw in the unsettled waters by Saut d’Eau island

At the finish line, in Macqueripe Bay, Philippe Boccara held off Franck Fifils to win the race by 21 seconds. Mark Addison was the top local paddler finishing third overall ahead of Ryan Mendes.

(Photos by John Horsfall, Quinn Lougheide and Joanne Esdale)



2010 North Coast Challenge Results

NameRace TimeAverage Speed (kmh)
Philippe Boccara 02:05:21 12.92
Franck Fifils 02:05:42 12.89
Mark Addison 02:17:27 11.79
Ryan Mendes 02:29:25 10.84
Johan Sydow 02:56:32 9.18
David Hackshaw 03:03:26 8.83
Michel Boccara 03:24:02 7.94
Nina Chaves 03:27:38 7.8
David Esdale DNF  
Gerard Ferreira DNF

 

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