PNSW Harbour Series 2016 – Pittwater Challenge Race Report

A clear sky and no wind greeted the MWKC race hosts at Bayview early on Saturday morning at setup for race 2 of the PNSW Harbour Series, with the Epic sponsor’s flags barely fluttering shortly after first light. The course was laid early and registration set up and managed really well by the MWKC volunteers. Over 100 registrations online prior to the event indicated a solid attendance. The Race Briefing was clear and the course and start procedure well outlined to all, giving a good 15 minute window for a warm up pre start.

There were two starts used – the first for long course with Short Course just minutes afterwards, ensuring all started with competitors in their own division only and no confusion. After the three short blasts as a prep signal and then on the single long start signal, the lead pack formed quickly with Vajda and Think Skis (Brett Greenwood, Sasa Vujanic, Stew O’Regan) quickly forming a diamond with Dave Coward and Tony Hystek right up there with them, leaving the remainder if the fleet In their wash. They continued in this way for quite a while with no one really wanting to lead out. The rest of the long course formed into about three main packs – each chasing the one in front. The water was flat with just a few lumps from passing boats to contend with and a very slight maybe 6kt cooling headwind to provide relief. Who knew it could be this warm on the water in autumn in Sydney? The first half of the long course was essentially a straight line drag race for 7km north to the large and highly visible pink race marker buoy off Sand Point. A left hand turn for the next leg of about1km gave a few passing opportunities. This leg presented small chop from the right and gave those on tippier skis something else to think about. The fear of losing the pack in front gave rise to many sprints and passing manoeuvres, before the course turned south again for the long grind home. Any assistance offered by the now slight tail wind was offset by the outgoing tide and a few lumps and bumps on the way. Some sprinted too early and died, to be passed by rivals. All were intrigued by the huge clouds of small harmless jellyfish encountered towards the end, highly visible in the really clear waters and bumping rudders, which could be felt through pedals. One or two must have been a bit captivated by them and chose that vicinity to fall off – and hastily remount. With the finish in sight, most pulled out all stops and belted for the line, with a few positions changing in the last metres and some close finishes ensuing. MWKC had organised a heap of fresh chilled fruit at the end and did a great job in handing this out to all – very welcome.

The presentation was held quickly after the last competitors had finished where many lucky paddlers received some great prizes from series sponsors ProKayaks, Vaikobi, the PNSW Committee. The Go Pro camera was the last big prize raffled. Every competitor entering every event receives one chance to win the ultimate series prize – an Epic V7 ski. Epic were on site with the amazingly light V10 Elite, recognisable by its bright orange fleuro end tips. For more information on this and the entire range of Epic Skis – see Epic Kayaks.

The Short Course was also a large field, with 54 competitors, to the Long Course’s 55 – a very even mix. A large contingent of female paddlers in this group showed just how sensible and appreciated the intended pathway to improved performance and fun these events can be. The largest Short Course division was the Female 40-49 group. It has always been the intention that paddlers can rise through the ranks from Harbour Series Short Course, Harbour Series Long Course, Ocean Series Short and then Ocean Series Long Course
events. This seems to be working and we urge all paddlers considering these events to turn up and have a go at the next event.

The PNSW committee thank all at MWKC for hosting an outstanding event. Their very professional crew made everything look so easy – but we do appreciate the many hours which go in to holding these events.

The next event in the PNSW Harbour Series calendar is Race 3 – the Tingira Challenge, to be hosted by Shark Island Paddlers at Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour on 16th April. Better get some more training in whilst this perfect weather continues!