Paddle Round The Pier 2013… it came together nicely!!
For the last couple of years we’ve been plagued with not great weather but this year was something special. Clear skies & temperatures in the high 20’s all weekend!
The format of the race was something new this year. It was a team draft race. 3 men (or woman) in a team with the time & position of finish selected based on the last paddler in the team to cross the finish line.
I teamed up with fellow ZRE riders Ryan James (Starboard International) & Ollie Shilston (Surftech) probably the two quickest guys in the UK at the moment so I knew, although I had a great team it was going to be pretty tough on me, I definitely didn’t want to let the guys down.
The course was an M shape, starting at Hove Lawns where the festival site was. Paddling West to Shoreham, coming ashore to collect a tag each, then back to Brighton to come ashore again, then back East past Palace Pier, once again to come to shore, then make it back to Brighton to complete the lap. The course was two laps (although they failed to mention that in the briefing which caught us and the other teams off guard a little!)
The course ended up being slightly longer than the advertised 14miles, it was just over 16 miles in the end. 3 hours paddling in extremely high temperatures.
The race went pretty much perfectly to plan, I got a great start & led the pack to the first marker where Ollie took charge & set the pace. I let Ryan though and pulled in behind into line. Sonny from the Fanatic team had clearly thought through his strategy & jumped on my tail to try & get pulled along with us.
He then surprisingly pushed his way past, breaking off from his team before the first mark at Shoreham. I wasn’t worried at this point as the transition was the perfect time to break the pack. We patiently waited for the moment & seized it when it all came together! Ryan & I got a great transfer, back on the water alone, Ollie had a shocker getting the wristband on & hit the water with Sonny. Ryan & I knew Ollie had great sprint pace & kept our heads down to keep space, Ollie performed perfectly smashing his was back to join the draft pulling away from Sonny & creating the gap we needed to go to work.
Ryan set the pace back to Brighton & pushed hard, we kept pulling away to about 30meters. As we carried on down to Palace pier after the second stop the fantaci team with Sonny leading were catching again, so we rotated quicker & got the pace back up again.
Coming back to Brighton we actually though the race was over, but Ollie suggested we ‘might’ have to do another lap, looking at the GPS it was coming up to 8miles… a little unsure we hit the beach to hear the bad news we had to do it all over again. It was getting really hot now, we’d pushed a gruelling pace, but we knew everyone was in the same position so we got right back to work.
I had a bad section up to Shoreham, I’d been suffering from severe Sciatica all week & it was kicking in, tired, hot, shooting pain in my back it wasn’t a lot of fun I have to say. The guys took up the slack & pushed the pace at the front allowing me to sit in 3rd & keep pace & try & manage the pain.
As the last lap carried on it was easing up a bit, but when we got back down to Palace Pier for the final time there were JetSkis EVERYWHERE, ragging it about, making the sea literally boil. We charged straight at them, trying to clear them. they didn’t really back down, Ryan went in a couple of times, all of us had tired legs & this was all we needed!
Back out again I took point for the final leg home & emptied the tank as best I could, when we rounded the last turn I looked back & couldn’t even see team Fanatic behind us.
The last lap we had really pulled clear by some 10 minutes by keeping a steady pace. Ryan shouted to cool it down as he was falling apart after the early efforts. I realised I was totally in the zone smashing it out even though we had it completely in the bag & only 50 yards to go.
We eased off, pulled along side & chatted & laughed the last bit in to a great victory.
For three guys that are ultra competitive & used to racing our own way we did flipping brilliantly as a team. It all went perfectly to plan, we all worked great together, not once was a man left down (apart from Ollie on the first lap but that was calculated 🙂 ) It was great to paddle with the guys instead of against them for once.
A great format race & one to look forward to again.
Results (men’s 16mile)
1st – Team ZRE (Pete Holliday – Bic / Ryan James – Starboard / Ollie Shilston – Surftech)
2nd – Team Fanatic (Mark Slater / Sonny EZ / Phil Plume)
3rd – Andy Joyce / Sam Ross / Ben Swails
ZRE for paddles & support for the race
Ollie & Ryan for getting me through the pain!
Chi, Bomber Eyewear, Bic and Nutrichef for support, fuel and equipment!
Photo credits to:
© 2013 Tomas Januska http://tomasjanuska.com/
Stylo Sports http://www.stylosports.com/