Race 2 of the Pita Pit winter race series was held on Sunday, July 29th at the Royal Akorana Yacht club, and despite the gale force nor east winds (quite possibly the MOST disruptive direction at this venue) 28 paddlers lined up and completed the race – nice work guys!
The decision on the course was made late due to the very high winds, and even though race director and safety manager Jason Pocock was out on the water before the race, trying to find the best start and finish venue as well as making the course safe for paddlers (and their equipment) proved to be a very challenging task. In the end it was a pretty straight forward 5km lap starting from the outer edge of the Landing marina, tracking back towards town, heading under the bridge at Tamaki drive and up about 1500m to a turning buoy in Orakei inlet, SUP and 5km surf ski paddlers headed straight back to the start finish line and the 10km surf ski paddlers did another lap. The race directors also made the difficult call to take all series points away from the race as they didn’t want people paddling outside of their comfort zone in such challenging conditions. This was not a decision made lightly as the Paddling Project has always wanted to reward consistency and participation in this winter series, they firmly endorse paddling and racing over any distance in a variety of craft and in ALL conditions, but in the end safety had to come first.
While the course was pretty sheltered the starting conditions were in a word OUTRAGEOUS, even getting to the start line was difficult particularly after the run in with the security staff at the Marina, special thanks to Warren Trenthaway for defusing that situation enabling access for all starters in the shelter of the outer edge of The Landing. Spectators watching the 28 paddlers dart across the bay in such strong winds and bumpy water felt a mixture of respect, fear, envy and extreme cold; everyone on and off the water was relieved when the starting hooter went letting all three paddling fields enjoy the short downwind stretch!
While the sea quieten down as the course developed the tailwind remained strong giving all paddlers a bit of respite in the first part of the race. As expected both Tim McLarin, Travis Mitchell and Tim Grammer took to the front of the surf ski field quickly. And in almost a parallel race the SUP field was lead out by Russel Benshaw, James Turner and Jason Bird. Both fields spread out quickly as the progressed across the sheltered inlet in Orakei. There were however strong attacks in the 10km surf ski field from Brent Clode, Brendon Davey, Garren Cooper and Andrew Morlem. Likewise Mike Pirrit, Paul Davis and Dion McAsey were also challenging strongly in the SUP course.
The 5km surf ski field were the first to finish with Race One champ Michael Smith taking a narrow victory from Broden Race, calls were voiced at prize giving that Mike will need to line up in the 10km race at Mairangi Bay in three weeks time. Dwayne McGorman took out third.
In the end the SUP Race was won by Russell Benshaw, from Jason Bird from James turner, there were 41 seconds separating the first 3 paddlers home.
In the surf ski race it was Travis Mitchell who took the win and the Magrette watch despite challenges from both Tims. Mitchell is looking like we will be tuff to beat in the series competition. Grammer was third overall home and first 40+. Paul Gillard took out the 50+ category comfortably and special mention must go to Danny Morrison who helped set up the course before completing the full 10km on a pretty heavy spec ski. Danielle McKenzie was also a stand out performer, the only women in the field she finished just behind Gillard and took out the pimping high visibility rapid dry paddling top from Sharkskin – NICE.
Special thanks to all our amazing sponsors
· Pita Pit
· NZ Sale
· Mad Butcher, Northcote Rd
· Standing Room Only
· Watersports South Pacific
· All Power
· Delmaine Fine Foods
· Muscle Therapy
· Mairangi Bay Surf Club
Race 3 of the Pita Pit Winter Race Series will be held at Mairangi Bay Beach on Sunday August 19th, only three weeks away!