The 4 Topic Blog

 In Lifestyle, Race Reports, Safety

It has been so long since I last blogged and so much has happened that having a single topic per blog makes no sense. So here it is, all in one.

Topic 1 – Oceana Power Boat Club in Cape Town

Each year I do the Cape Point Challenge, and last year was no different except I got to Cape Town 3 weeks before the race. I needed to keep training while in Cape Town. I was based in town so I connected with the town based paddlers who paddle from the Oceana Power boat Club. The club is a little known gem sandwiched between the Water Front and Granger bay. Safe parking, cheap beer and all year round easy launching via the slip way. The club has a grassy lawn and a swimming pool. Definitely check it out if you find your self in Cape Town.

It is a casual club but the paddling members have organised themselves well with a dice most Wed evenings in summer. I managed to join them for the last one of the year along with fellow Natal paddlers Billy Harker and Mike Halliday.  A fun course but with the addition of a big swell and some hard breaking points it was quite a testing paddle. I did not know it then but this was dress rehearsal for what the Cape Point Challenge would be like.


Topic 2 – Mist is not to be underestimated

I met up with Oceana local David Black for a training paddle one morning. Conditions were calm but a big swell was running. We headed out towards Barkers rock, a deep water rock a km or 2 off Clifton beach. As we rounded the rock the mist closed in like someone had shut the curtains. Land was out of sight. We had to guess the way home. Turns out our guess was wrong. After paddling blindly for a while huge rock loomed out of the mist. We did not know it then, but this was the big rock marking the entrance to Clifton Bay. We were 90 degrees off course! But at least we could see land and we knew we just had to keep Africa on the right to get home. Hassle was this stretch of coast has numerous big wave deep water points. If we kept close enough in to be able to see land, we found ourselves inside the impact zone of the points. If we went far enough out to get around the surf we lost sight of land and subsequently our bearings. It was quite an eye-opener as to how quickly a straight fwd training paddle can go pear-shaped. We got back to Ocean eventually and I was very relieved to be back on dry land. be thankful we seldom get mist here in Dbn, it is a game changer.


Topic 3 – Multiple Olympic medallist and canoeing legend Tim Brabants and his amazing Nelo Ski

Getting to Cape Town so early, I needed to find a ski to keep training. Following a faceBook lead, I called about an ad for a full carbon ski posted on Gumtree. Quickly realised I was talking to SIR Tim Brabants of the UK, canoeing royalty. He was selling a Full carbon Nelo for a pittance. I bought it over the phone immediately and picked it up in Cape Town a few weeks later.

For those interested in the boat, it was super quick on flat water. The steering lines were kevlar with too much stretch so I changed them to cables. The rudder was also prone to cavitating so I swopped it out for a shark fin rudder. The boat was too twitchy for me, in kind of a decent sea so I ended up selling it. In Cape Town one needs a boat one is super comfortable in as the wind blows hard enough to move rocks. As a flat water, small conditions boat though, the Nelo would be hard to beat.

Meeting Tim was a highlight. He is a true gentleman and exceptionally down to earth. He loves the sport of canoeing and South Africa. Even though he is retired he would love to help grow canoeing in SA. Sadly the SA government does not was to recognize to his UK medical licence and he is being forced back to the UK. A big loss to SA. I managed to spend a few hrs with him on the water. It was supposed to be a coaching session but we just chatted for most of the time. I was pleased to find out my stroke is basically ok. But more importantly, I made a new friend. Tim, you will be missed when u head back to the UK.


Topic 4 -The Cape Point Challenge

In the weeks leading up to the CPC we had day after day of screaming gales and huge surf. But by the time the race rolled around, the wind had died but we were still let with a large swell. The early morning start at Scarborough revealed big waves and misty conditions. Fortunately, there is a sneak along the rocks of the point and most paddlers got out without getting their hair wet.

Our doubles batch quickly formed a group. About 4 km in Ross Poacher suddenly took a hard right turn out to sea. A few comments about his driving ability were tossed around, until a break in the mist showed that we had been heading straight into the impact zone of a deeper water point. Unbeknownst to us, the leading girls, ahead of us had made the same mistake. They were caught out and ski’s were broken and rescues made. Thanks Ross for saving the day.

At Cape Point, we were caught by the racing doubles. The surf was breaking Km’s out to sea and we had to give the point a very wide berth. Even so we dived inside a few very large breaking waves. The amount of refraction of the cliffs was crazy. The sea was all over the place and just staying in the boat was a challenge.[image action=”none” image_action_link=”#” target=”_self” align=”aligncenter” image_size_alias=”” image_alt=”CPC Peter Cole rounding the point” link_title=”CPC Peter Cole rounding the point” margin_top=”10″ margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”10″ margin_left=”” bw=”0″ sc_id=”sc1421666186276″][/image]

Race Organiser Peter Cole surfing around the point

False Bay was blissfully flat with small waves that helped us along. We (Simon Grout and I) we racing hard for 2nd vet with Ross Poacher and Puppy. They got us in the end, and we ended up third vets. A mess up at the prize giving left us without our medals or prize money with 4th place being awarded our spoils!! An innocent mistake that did not dampen a great day.


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kieths-rapid-with-gara paddles at the fish river canoe marathon