I competed in a race in Jersey in April and it was my worse race since I started competing. The wind and swell was high and as I had no surf experience I struggled getting through the shore break. But, I am not one to be beaten so since that race I have been to Jersey twice to train in open water and I registered to go back in July for a race.
This race is an 8km open water race, and SUP, longboard, paddleboard, OC1 and surfski all race together. Every competitor starts at the same time with a run to the beach, pick up your craft and get on the water. We had over 80 competitors in total and 43 SUP. The SUP class was open, therefore no different classes for board length. I knew most of the paddlers would choose 14’ boards and I purposefully chose a 12’6. If I was going to beat the demons I was carrying since April I wanted to do it in style.
The first leg was a crosswind leg so I carefully chose my position on the start line to enable me to paddle the least distance to get to Devil’s Jaws. Once out and through Devil’s Jaws I was in to a head wind and some seriously choppy water. This time I chose a longer route by paddling out and away from the land as I would not have any back wash and would give me a slightly better sea to paddle on. This was a tough leg as we were having to navigate ourselves through rocks and over some shallow water. At the causeway we would turn and head back to land. The causeway had standing waves and one caught the nose of my board and turned me, I could see I was about to go straight over rock. I had to make a quick decision to get off the board before the rock caused damage. I quickly got back on and battled through the choppy water. I was happy to be past the Causeway and on the homeward straight. The last 2km of the race was into on-shore side wind and swell, so once again I chose to go really wide and let the wind and swell guide me down to the last buoy turn. As I got to the last turn I paddled past the buoy, allowed the wind and swell to turn me to shore and enjoyed the last little down wind leg. As I was approaching the finish I could not remember if I could leave the board in the water and run or did I have to cross the line with my board. I was not losing this race on a technicality, so I quickly picked up my board and ran it across the finish line.
I finished 1st female, with 2nd place female 15 minutes behind me, 10th overall and 3rd 12’6. The demons were well and truly put to rest. My first place trophy summarised my race perfectly – “I paddled hard and I won”.