Hong Kong:

Hong Kong is an amazing place in many ways. If it was not for the huge high-tech city with over seven million people living in it, it would resemble the landscape of a Jerrasic Park movie. The smog drifting across from the massive coal factories deep inside mainland China hide the 250 islands that surround the area. Some days it’s nearly impossible to see more than 5 km and very easy to get lost while paddling , but some how mother nature still has the upper hand with 60% of the land being too mountanous to build on. This greenery gives some relief to the over welming feeling of “Big city life”

Monday: I arrived in Hong Kong late on Monday night after 22 hours of traveling. With HK being 6 hours out of my time zone I planned to get there well before the race day so I could ajdust but more importantly also get used to the new boat I was going to race that weekend.

Tuesday: Last night was rough! Forcing myself to eventually get to sleep by 2am was not easy. I made sure to set my alarm for the morning so that I could try get into their day night pattern but I slept right through it and only woke up at 1pm (7am SA time)! NOT IDEAL!

Wednesday & Thursday: New boat still hasn’t arrived! I manage to borrow a boat to train on while I wait. All the other top guys start to arrive and the race vibe builds quickly.

Saturday: RACE DAY! The weather is humid but the wind is up! The start is frantic as per usual but I get myself into the front pack. The first 7km is side chop with a head wind. It was enough to break everyone up. Rounding ‘9 pins rock’ for the 12 km downwind leg I was still in the mix, but soon after that, the wheels fell off. I actually think I might have paddled faster if I had turned around and headed back into the wind haha.. The downwind leg was very technical with the runs coming over your left shoulder while you had to angle hard left to get out the main current. I ended up 10th overall very frustrated as I knew I was paddling a hell of a lot better than that.


Monday: Got up early for a 15km grind just to loosen the muscles before my flight to Dubai. Had a last minute shopping spree through the many markets of Hong Kong and Kowlun. Then it was off to the airport for my overnight flight to Dubai.

Dubai:

Dubai is the land of no limits. It’s also the home of the richest race on the calendar attracting paddlers from 27 different countries. Anyone who’s anyone in Surfski paddling was here to chase the $60 000 prize purse. This was going to be one hell of a race!

Tuesday: Get into Dubai at 5:30 am. Straight to the hotel to catch up on some of the sleep I missed out on during the flight. After a solid 3 hr sleep I head down stairs to hit the the buffet breakfast HARD! I eat way to much but walk away feeling satisfied with money well spent lol. That evening I went for an easy paddle with some of the local guys to get some inside tips for race day.

Wednesday: Feeling well rested I do a hard session this morning to remind the body what we are actually here to do. 2 days till race day and I’m already nervous. The weather predictions are for flat hot conditions. Much to the dissapointment of many guys who do better in the bumps. Deep inside I was grinning from ear to ear. This was right up my ally but to make top 10 was still going to be no walk in the park, that’s forsure.

Thursday: With all my final pre race checks on juice bottles, boat and paddling gear done the only thing left to do was put my game face on and try not to focus on all the pre-race hype at race registration. Sounds easy but it’s really not.

Friday: RACE DAY! It’s HOT!!!!! No actually it wasn’t hot it was boiling! Well over the 30 degree mark. Race start was set for 2:30pm to try wait for the afternoon winds, but this is also the hottest time of the day. NOT IDEAL! I spend most of my morning hiding in the shade doing very little very slowly.
The race was 24km long with the last 4km in a dead flat wind protected channel.
I manage to position myself in the lead pack of 8 guys. Everyone hustling for the best waves. On the turn for the “downwind leg” Dawid Mocke, Ben Allen and myself broke away heading on a deep sea line. I had worked out that by staying deep we would miss a head current being pushed out along the beach front. From there it was all a blur. Coming into the last 4 km I just couldn’t stay on Ben or Dawids wave. I was absolutly broken. I went from racing to survival. With no wind to cool you off the heat got to me straight away. I force another GU into my mouth. I manage to hold off the other guys and finish 3rd. I was beyond stoked! This race was a massive acheivment for me. Straight onto the phone to the family watching the live commentry at home and of course COACH Pete. I knew I was fit but you never know what’s going to happen till you are actually in the race. All those early morning 2000m sessions on the swamp suddenly seemed worth it. Ok well most of them ha ha…

A huge thank you goes to THINK KAYAKS and ORKA TRAINING for making all of this possible.

Next up : 2 weeks till Cape Point Challenge! Giddy up