Team Orion – Adventure racing on Holy Island Part 2

Anglesea kayak race – Menai Straits, Anglesea

Seeing as we were already there for the Open 5 and had all the gear with us we decided to race in the Anglesea kayak race the following day.  As the wind was still extremely strong this was held in the Menai Straits between the mainland and Anglesea although the conditions in the straights were still rough enough for an exciting paddle!

Fi and I were paddling an Insomniac double adventure racing kayak which is one of the kayaks that we brought with us from New Zealand when we raced as Team Orion in the Adventure racing world championships in Scotland in 2007.  It’s a fast kayak but can be challenging to handle in rough conditions and there was plenty of swell moving up the straights when the start gun went.  With the incoming tide and following swell we moved out into the centre of the channel quickly and soon we were making good progress with just a single kayaker and two surf-ski paddlers in front of us.  It was exhilarating paddling in the swell trying to catch the best waves to aid our progress while also trying to hold our course when the wave tries to push the back of the boat of and lift the rudder out of the water – makes steering difficult!

As we neared the bridges the swell died away as the channel turned but the next challenge was soon upon us. The current in the channel reaches about 6 knots at full flow and it cannot have been much less than that when we turned around the buoy at the 2nd bridge and started to make our way back upstream to the top turn at the first bridge which we had passed earlier.  Our kayaking speed in the double is about 6 knots and there where places where we were hardly making any progress against the tide at all as we made our way towards the next buoy searching for the slowest moving patches of water.

Due to some good paddling and a bit of luck we had moved up into 2nd place by the first turn but on the upstream section the lighter single-person craft had an advantage and we were back in 4th again as  we approached the top turn.

Thankfully turning downstream once more we had a final straight run to the finish.  As the straights opened up again we enjoyed some more surfing on the final stretch but had to settle for 4th place overall, however clearly winning the double kayak category.

Another good event to top off a great weekend of racing.

Photos courtesy of Adventure Elements. More photos.

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