Instead of writing a conventional race recap, I've decided to comment on what I noticed while up at 12 Towers. Five quick topics, with my comments and views on each of them, 'Wrong Board Choice', 'Most Improved', 'Choked', 'Strong Finish' and 'Best on Ground'. Hope you enjoy.
1) Wrong Board Choice
While most people would think Boothy made the biggest blunder regarding board choice on Saturday, choosing to ride a narrow flatwater board (Starboard Sprint) instead of an ocean board, I’m going to change your mind on this one. Matt Nottage turned up without a board to the Gold Coast and borrowed a board off Jacko. Nottage got first pick of the (One Ocean Sports) fleet and with the forecast not looking epic he went for a new prototype narrow all round dugout design. Mid way through the race he realised he wasn’t on the right board so he actually paddled back and in towards Jacko, who was on a more conventional downwind board (One Storm) and made a mid race swap. He then went on to paddle his way through the field and place within the top 10. I guess the board change was worth it but the pre race board choice cost the previous Doctor and King of the Cut Champion a place on the podium. The right board choice seemed to be an ocean board designed by Marcus Tardrew though, with 3 out of the top 4 all on a Marcus Tardrew inspired design, the exception being T2.
2) Most Improved
Ty Judson and Tim Cyprien for me are the most improved or best up and coming racers. With the likes of Noic Garioud and Clement Colmas already having shocked the SUP world in racing, to me they had to be overlooked. Tim and Ty are most certainly making ground on the top guys. For me Ty has especially improved in downwind conditions, he’s already proven to be a beast in flatter conditions, but since his second attempt at Molokai 2 Oahu last year I have seen a vast improvement in his downwinding capabilities. Keep an eye on him to do well in Hawaii and any other downwind races he enters this year.
Sorry Noic but you had an all time choke on the weekend. Wunderkid Noic Garioud had a good 45 seconds to a minute on me as we rounded the mark and turned in through the surf. I had all but given up on a spot on the podium and was actually more concerned about Clement overtaking me as he was only two or three bumps behind. I managed to sneak a little roller through the impact zone, that so many people had trouble with, and saw a flailing Noic in the inside gutter. At this stage he still had at least 50/100 metres on me. Its amazing how good a bit of momentum through the surf is though. I managed to milk my bump all the way through the gutter and into the inside bank, jump off my board and enter into a running race with the young New Caledonian. End of story I beat him up the beach by a second, so never give up as someone in front of you can make a meal of coming in through the surf.
4) Strong Finish
Besides my strong finish to pip Noic (although I more attribute that to a choke by Noic) my strong finish nomination goes to T2. For the first nine kilometers of the race T2 was cruising in fourth place behind me with Noic and Lincoln battling it out at the front. As soon as we hit the ten or eleven kilometer T2 hit a new gear and literally took off. He left me and Noic in his wake and very nearly caught Lincoln for line honours. Lincoln is worth mentioning here too, he not only held T2 off but also got a hell of a wave in through to the finish.
5) Best on Ground
While there were a lot of impressive achievements on Saturday, to me there were two standouts. The first is Karla Gilbert winning yet another 12 Towers Title, I've actually lost count on how many she has won now but I'm sure Bossman at SUP Racer will have the stat. Its not like she hasn't had any competition either with Yuka Sato, taking the crown last year and Kate Baker putting up a tough challenge this year. The second is Dave Kissane placing inside the top 10 of the Open Mens despite being in the Over 50s division. Now Dave Kissane is one of the original downwind stand up paddlers in Sydney and helped me hone my downwind technique over the years, as cryptic as the Fox can be with any advice. I've had the honour of giving a bit of this advice back to him as he's been following my 'Coach Casey.' training program the last few months so I'll take a bit of credit for this result ;) although he is definitely one of those un-coachable style athletes. He is a great guy though with lots of great stories; like the time he should've beaten Connor Baxter during a race on the Maliko Run but his rudder broke and when he beat Matt Nottage to the beach at King of the Cut a few years ago but still managed to lose it. Saturday was a great day for Kissa and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him when the wind is up for races but hearing more about this particular race in years to come.