- Written by Albert Au
Day 8: Race Day.
It's finally here. Race day. There is excitement in the air as everybody put on their special race tops! Everyone is ready. A sophisticated plan, consisting of 2 paddling crews, a support boat lead, and a land support crew, is about to be executed.
Our participants for the 20th Annual Na Pali Challenge are:
- Jen Allan (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
- Cathy Panetta (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
- Charlotte Richards (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
- Amanda Wylie
- Nicola Frowen
- Rachel Mosen
- Elita Seow (club friend)
- Kerry Davenport
- Linda Ng
- Ian Amos
- Tony Compton (club friend)
- Geoff Eldridge
- Albert Au
- Brad Smith (club friend)
- Grant Hughes (club friend)
- Kirsty Holmes - support boat lead
- Paul Webster - land support
- Carol Compton - club friend and land support
- Kristen Reed - club friend and land support
This is my first big mass-start race, and it's so exciting to see 50+ canoes take over a beach! Here's a video of how things looked like at the race start. (right click and save)
On top of being a big race for me, it was also a cultural experience. The youth teams held hands and prayed in their language before their race start. The adults didn't have to pray, possibly because of the number of overseas teams. But activities remind me of just why sports like outrigger canoeing, and dragon boating, are much more than just a contest of technique and conditioning, and the measurement of margins.
Once the ceremonies are done, it's onward to the racing! The women began the race in a Le Mans-style start, where the driver (our steerer Linda) ran towards our canoe and boarded it, and the race kicks off. The men swam out to our support boat, which, after 15 minutes, were allowed to drive out of the bay, towards the racing canoe.
Rather than do a complete recount of the race, my thoughts will what I personally found new and different.
- The variety of water conditions, within a race, is one. Downwind paddling conditions, to flat water, to air-time and slamming of canoes into the water. The first portion of the race was in reasonably good conditions, but there were a frenzy of motor boats, ducking and weaving among the race canoes, trying to find space to support a change but not impede other crews (or cause a capsize with wash). We almost capsized our canoe during a change, but thanks to our skill (or luck haha) we didn't end up having to bail our canoe. :D
- At the end of the race (where we were 20th across the line), the teams all came together at a marquee for lunch and drinks. That's something different to our OC races in Australia - OC races in Hawaii are all about bringing people together.
- Another new experience for me is, throughout the race, we had to stay hydrated and fed, and we had Kirsty to thank for that! Such a trooper, reminded us to nibble, to drink, and helped us re-apply sun screen.
In summary, I loved racing the Na Pali Challenge, and can't wait to do it again!
Photo: PD Chicks racing in 2 crews - PDs crew in the foreground, PDs and Niumalu combined crew in the background.
- Written by Albert Au
Day 7: rest day.
Except it was action packed. For many of us, this was the only day dedicated to non-paddling activities, so we made the most of it!
After spending some of the morning helping our instructor Keone unload some of his canoes, and rig ours, we all went off in our separate ways to do our fun stuff. Some of the girls went and made those Huki Leis (pictured), and Jen, Kris (Jen's friend who is our crew supporter for the race), Paulie and I went and did some snorkelling! Here's one of Jen saying hi to you all under water.
After these and other fun afternoon activities, we had a final logistics meeting, and met our club friends who graciously came in last-minute to replace our late withdrawals.
We are ready to race tomorrow.
- Written by Albert Au
Day 6: OC6 water changes, huli drill, discussions about the Na Pali course.
Thankfully, today's exercises were a lot more light-weight! As the summary mentioned, we practiced some huli (capsize) drills (which I hope we never have to do this in a race, because we've been promised some big conditions!) and some OC6 changes. This was definitely a useful portion of the clinic, because we hadn't practiced water changes up to this point (err, because it's winter in Sydney and it was like 6 degrees on some mornings), and a few niggles needed to be ironed out.
We also had a visit and a Q&A session by one of Team NEC's team paddlers.
I shouldn't forget to mention though, the non-racing members of the clan (Kirsty, who had a damaged shoulder, Paulie, felled by sickness on the eve of our departure, and Lisa, who is mainly here for the camp and the sun) managed to take OC1s out for another spin. So all had a bit of exercising and fun.
Our evening was spent at the pool... some logistics about the race were discussed, but otherwise just beers and a merry old time!