What I wish I Knew Before I Started Surfski…

When I am not coaching paddling, I’m training hard with the Orka paddling squad or jumping on the Miller’s taxi, to go paddle the Millers run. I am frequently asked… “Won’t you ever get tired of the sport?” At times… I wonder if I ever will.

Earlier in the week, I was forced to take a two-day break. I had paddled myself into a semi-coma and was worried about getting sick. It was a difficult two days. I know what you are thinking. That I am being a little pathetic right? Two days off is not something to get upset about! But for those two days, the South, South East wind howled like a beast in pain.

Everyone was out paddling the Miller’s run while I was trapped, imprisoned to a view of the ocean from my bedroom window.

The Miller’s times started flying in!

Stuart McLaren posted his first ever sub 40 min paddle at 39:12 min. Kenny Rice posted a sub 39 min. Paddling a sub 39 is extremely rare, you need to have great conditions and paddle like a bat out of hell!

It didn’t stop there! On the second run, Stuart posted a time of 37:45 and Kenny 37:20.

To give you some context of how fast that is….. Only about five paddlers in the history of the Miller’s run have posted a sub 38 min. Kenny pipped Dawid and Oscar Chalupsky’s double time by one second. Now he claims the second fastest Miller’s run time.

Deep down I couldn’t have been more stoked for my mates, yet deeper down I couldn’t wait to get back on the water and make an attempt to smash my own personal best time!

Photo by Alan Van Gysen 

Skirting the reef, managing the delicate balance of thrill and peril.

Jasper Mocke “We need this. For our sanity. We need some risk

Tuesday would be the day that my chance would come! I paddled around Miller’s rock with the goal to post a great time. I set a virtual partner on my Garmin mimicking Jasper Mocke who holds the Miller’s record at 36:36. To beat Jasper, my average would need to be 19.1 km/h. I clicked start and it was on.

Jasper immediately started pulling away at the lighthouse (halfway point). I was averaging 18.4km/h, fast but not fast enough. The runs got cleaner and I started to catch jasper 18.5km/h… 18.6km/h… 18.7km/h… 18.8km/h.

The final stretch was a little slower and I finished with an average of 18.7km/h and a time of 37:37. My best time to date yet still a minute from the record. I was proud to finally have paddled a sub 38. I came off the water more determined, more excited to get back on and do it all over again.

I have come to realize, no matter how much paddling you do, it will never be enough. You will never be able to practice paddling the sea to perfection. The ocean by its very nature is unpredictable and will surprise you every day. For this reason, alone, boredom just is not possible and you will always be learning.

Paddling is not a sport….. It is a way of life!