How ya goin'? -Australia so far.
I am just coming up on my fourth week here in Australia and the trip so far has been action packed. I arrived on September 15th and its been non stop. I have competed in four races, two K1 and two Ocean ski races. I have been to the Snowy mountains camping and fishing, and completed a whole load of training.
I am based in Canberra, the Australian capital. My brother and his family live here, so its great to be able to spend time with them. I have been training at the Burley Griffin Canoe Club, who have been very welcoming and give me the use of a very nice Vajda Infusion K1. My training partner is Ben Rake, who is the top marathon paddler in the club. Training sessions are early here compared with Ireland, we are at the club before 7am most mornings. The weather has been unusually cold and wet for this time of year so some mornings its tough to face getting out on the water. Summer is starting to make an appearance and it is starting to warm up now.
I am doing way more paddling than I expected, which is fantastic. There has been loads of races on that I didn't know about before coming over. The weekend after I arrived I headed to North Sydney for "The Chucky" ocean race. My mate Kieran Babich of Wash Rider was kind enough to host me and lend me his Fenn Elite ski. Unfortunately it was way too big for me, but I still raced! Finishing around 50th in a huge field of 200 with some big names at the front. It was a great experience though and the weather was fantastic. It definitely opened my eyes to the level of ocean paddling here and given me some ideas for future races in Ireland.
That evening I was back in Canberra. The following morning myself and Ben Rake traveled to Tumut for a small race that has just been revived after 20 years. 22km of fast down river paddling, shallow bends and swirly eddies tested river reading and boating handling skills. Ben Rake, Rob Mcintyre and myself were lead bunch from the start of the race. In an unusual turn of events I was leading into the finish only to miss a stroke and fall out of my boat, giving Ben the win and Rob McIntyre 2nd. One I would rather forget!
The following weekend we went to Wagga Wagga for the final race of the NSW marathon series. The race had to be moved to the lake as the rivers were all flooded. Four laps of a 5km course with no portages. I got a good start making the front group with Ben and Brett Greenwood. The course was a J shape with near hair pin turns, which made life hard for me as I only had a small sprint rudder on my K1. I fell off the lead on a tight turn back into the wind and was unable to get back up. Ben and Brett pulled away into the wind. I paddled on in 3rd. Unfortunately for Ben he broke a rudder cable on the third lap finishing his race and leaving 2nd place for me. I was happy with my race covering 20km in 1hr 38min. These high paced marathon and ski races have been tough for me, as my training has not been focused on them and I haven't raced all summer in Ireland either. I am only now starting to get race fit and build some speed endurance.
Last weekend I was back up in Sydney for another Ocean race. The Lion Island Challenge is a 14km surfski race around the Palm Beach which is famous as the Home and Away beach. Wash Rider and Pro Kayaks were kind enough to sort me out with a ski. An ultra light Fenn Elite Spark, which fitted me perfectly. Just over 100 ski's lined up for the 14km course. Conditions were good, but there was a few long legs into the wind and I knew it would be hard on me, I needed to stick to the heavier guys to hold my place. The race went well finishing in 15th ahead of a few well seasoned ocean paddlers. There is definitely still some improvement to be made for the next ocean race coming up in Bondi in a couple of weeks. Its difficult preparing for ocean races 200 miles inland though!
It hasn't been all paddling, I have been up to the Snowy Mountains a couple of times. Tried my at hand a fishing one day, didn't even get a bite, but its early in the season here.
Unfortunately I haven't managed to get any cycling done yet. Canberra has some of the best mountain bikes trails in Australia, so I definitely want to hit them before I leave.
This Saturday we are planning a trip to the coast for some surf ski paddling and sunshine. Then Im back to Sydney the following weekend for an Ocean race from Bondi, which should be good.
The weekend after that the Hawksbury Classic is on. Straight after the Hawksbury I am going on a trip to New Zealand with my brother. We are renting a camper van and touring around the South Island for a week. It should be an awesome trip. Everything I see online looks amazing and I have got loads of info from people.
Its going to be a busy few weeks!
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
Paddle & Pedal Blog HERE