Dutch Coast Race 2016

October time again so that can only mean one thing, The Bollenboys Dutch Coast Race! This year a round of the Surfski World Series. After last year’s maiden voyage there was an eager bunch o…

Source: Dutch Coast Race 2016

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Dutch Coast Race 2016

 

October time again so that can only mean one thing, The Bollenboys Dutch Coast Race! This year a round of the Surfski World Series. After last year’s maiden voyage there was an eager bunch of surfski paddlers of varying abilities making their way over to Castricum aan Zee from various parts of the UK.

 

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Lizelle Kemp, Martin Tonge, Douglas Wilby & Calum Urquhart leaving Newcastle.

 

This group consisted of Callum Urqhaurt, Lizelle Kemp & Douglas Wilby from Surfski Scotland, Martin Tonge from Northwales Surfskipaddlers, the above who decided to take a leisurely trip across the North Sea by ferry from Newcastle

Mark Ressel, Gus England, Tom Mason, Willem Prinsloo, Greg Tonetti (or should that be Georgina) more about that later & last but definitely not least the surfski gypsy Micky McDonald.

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Meeting Micky McDonald aka Surfski Gypsie at Club Zand on Friday.

 

15The weekend kicked off early with a paddle clinic on the Friday morning hosted by the surfski legend Oscar Chalupsky . Sensibly for most this was kept as a land based clinic as the North Sea was showing its teeth outside the doors of Sports at Sea with what could be described as a confused, dumping shore break.

 

 

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Jasper Mocke Surfski Clinic or should it read Castricum Carnage 😉

This was followed in the afternoon by yet another clinic from none other than Jasper Mocke from Mocke Paddling  who seemed rather more inclined to get people out on or more precisely IN the water. After some great pointers on handling your ski on land & at the water’s edge people were gently encouraged to practice their starts into the surf. All credit to Jasper he realised the range of abilities on display & sensibly kept it just that.

 

Once people were left to their own devices what will now be known as Castricum Carnage ensued! With very few paddlers able to break through the back line it was a scene of devastation as ski’s were repeatedly washed up at various locations along the beach mostly without a pilot on board. Showing why he is one of the best paddlers in the world Mr Mocke even completed an impromptu rescue of one paddler who was struggling in the heavy surf. Making it look ridiculously easy he grabbed a random ski from the beach & ploughed through the break to assist the stricken paddler (probably whilst making a phone call & having a cuppa as well).

 

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Our accommodation for the weekend …… Luxury!

After all the fun & games were completed it was off to our lovely little beach house @ Camping Bakum just 1km away that Lizelle had kindly organised. On arrival it transpired that she had in fact booked two of these lovely houses, luckily Willem, Tom & Greg were more than happy snap up the offer of an upgrade on their luxury camping spot!

 

It was here that we discovered the blag of the whole weekend, discovering that Greg had travelled here via the channel tunnel on his wife’s passport, must have been something to do with Brexit or something or the French border/customs are the world’s best equal opportunity employers!

 

All showered & changed & it was back to Castricum & the awesome Club Zand for an amazing pre-race meal attended by 60-70 hungry paddlers. The staff @ Club Zand were fantastic as usual & made everyone feel at home (I for one could easily make it my second home) such is the relaxed atmosphere great food & drink.

 

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Talk soon turned to the following day’s race which would be run in the opposite direction to last year to make the best use of the southerly wind that was predicted. Things had calmed down a little from earlier in the afternoon but the organisers promised us all would be set for a great down winder in the morning. Everyone enjoyed a relaxed evening including Oscar “la chouffe” Chalupsky who was on his usual top form!

 

After a good night’s sleep (for most) it was up & back to S.A.S. for registration, number pick-up & a fantastic goody bag containing various products from the races several sponsors, I’m still not sure how the guys put on this awesome race for €50, it’s worth every cent & then some.

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There’s no end to filling those bags
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Goodie Bags at the ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday morning …….. 96 boats on the beach

 

Boats prepped, numbers fixed & drinks sorted “non-alcoholic” for now anyway & it was down to the water’s edge for a water start, which made sense as it ensured that everyone was leashed to the ski (note to one’s self for our own race next year).

 

Follow the link to watch the Race Start 2016.

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At the sound of the horn 96 paddlers from 16 nations blasted through the somewhat thankfully smaller break to the 1st buoy 600mts from shore before heading north for 19km of downwind fun (allegedly).

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As promised by the organisers the wind did indeed pick up to create some “meaty” conditions in the latter half of the race.  Paddling against a spring tide and a tail wind provided challenging but great downwind conditions.

 

The top guys showed the rest of us how to do it with Sean Rice taking the win & the €600  prize money in a little over 1:19 mins.

The top 3 overall as below:

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Men:
1. Sean Rice (South Africa)
2. Jasper Mocke (South Africa)
3. David Slazchta (France)

 

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Women:
1. Angie Mouden (France)
2. Chloe Bunnett (Spain)
3. Sara Rafael(Portugal)

 

 

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Of the 96 starters 93 made the trip from Hargen to Castricum safely albeit slowly for some of us.

14543863_962501893895523_2825532896670280502_oThanks to the excellent safety cover from the guys @ Redingbrigade who watched over us all with 3 RIB’s plus a jet ski.

sports at zea buggy

 

Arjan provided the land based cover in his Gator 4×4 shadowing the race along the beach.

 

 

 

Once competitors had finished, changed & had their ski’s loaded onto the numerous trailers they were shuttled back to the start at Castricum on a luxury coach to collect their gear & head onwards to their respective accommodation to prepare for the post-race meal/party.

The travelling brits had a great day with some great results as can be seen below:

13       Mark Ressel            1:28:10

16       Gus England            1:28:57          3rd U23

34       Willem Prinsloo        1:38:14

44       Tom Mason               1:43:30

59       Callum Urqhuart      1:49:39

62       Lizelle Kemp            1:51:27

67       Greg Tonetti              1:53:44

68       Douglas Wilby          1:54:12

74       Micky McDonald      1:59:19

93       Martin Tonge             2:29:07

 

Once again the staff @ Club Zand were superb hosts during the whole evening which included the prize presentations, great food & plenty of drink. This continued late into the night with a few “gentlemen” who shall remain nameless deciding to gate-crash a private function & “throw some shapes on the dance floor” before kindly being asked to leave after about 2minutes!

After many tall tales & stories of 10ft waves? & making of new friends it was finally time to call it a night, for most people anyway. N.B. things did seem to calm down a little after Mark Ressel left? Personal apologies go to Stew O’Reagen of Think Australia for hijacking his taxi on the way home. Special mention of the night for Arjan Bloem who wins the award for best supporting role as he apparently had to literally hold up a certain South African surfski legend?

 

3Sunday morning broke wet & wild with a good percentage of the paddlers staying on for the greatly anticipated sit on top sprint doubles later in the morning. In all 32 pairings took to the start in various heats, repacharges, semi’s & finals.

 

 

 

Conditions were similar to those of Friday with a heavy beach break & a shallow sand bank to be negotiated. This ensured some hectic paddling & more than occasional wipe-out.

Calum & Douglas participated in the Sprint races and we can see from these two clips who did all the work! 😉

The evidence that Douglas did all the running! 

61As the rounds progressed & the weather deteriorated viewing reverted to inside the cosy surroundings yet again of club Zand for Latte’s & croquettes. It turned out to be just as competitive as the main downwind race with things taken very seriously even to the extent of 3 missing front teeth & at least one broken Jantex (ouch). I lost track of who got to which round but in the end it was McKenzie Hynard & his girlfriend who reigned victorious.

Paddlers slowly returned in varying degrees of dampness ie: drowned rats to enjoy complementary warm soup, grab some lunch & more coffee before heading their separate ways.

Next year’s race is set for the weekend of the 30th September- 1stOctober, race entry will be open as early as next January, but be warned this race will sell out fast so don’t hang around & get yourselves booked in for a fantastic weekend of everything surfski & other stuff too!

Finally a  massive thank you to Arjan,Thijs,Roben,Joep & Emiel  & everyone at Surfski Holland, the staff @ Club Zand,  the members of the Redingbrigade & all the sponsors for making the whole thing happen & for their fantastic enthusiasm & hospitality.

sponsors

It’s a race for all abilities so keep an eye on Surfski Holland via the internet/Facebook & get yourselves over there for next year.

Written by Martin Tonge from North Wales Surfski Paddlers

Edited by Lizelle Kemp from Surfski Scotland

Journey to the Think Evo II

 

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Windermere Solstice Race 2015  and Micky McDonald from Think Kayaks had made the effort to come all the way from Vancouver to demo some surfskis.

Having had a chat with him I decided to sit in the Evo II, determined not to paddle it as it’s flat water and I don’t see the point in doing a demo paddle in conditions I don’t generally paddle.  Irrespective of this …….. I loved the bucket fit and foot plate.  It was also apparent that a lot of thought had gone into the outfitting.

I was very interested but knowing how challenging it is to get a decent amount of time in a surfski in order to make a decision it was probably not a change I was going to make in the near future.

As Micky was heading back to Vancouver for a few weeks he offered to leave an Evo II with me to try providing I had secure storage, which thankfully I have.

Amazingly this offered me a two week window to demo the Evo II and in that time there was only one day of downwind and swell which turned into an epic session with some amazing runs by my standards and the boat handled like a dream with only the occasional twitch.  It was a very easy choice at this point.

The decision to upgrade wasn’t made lightly as it wasn’t at the top of my spending agenda for the year but having paddled the demo there was simply no going back.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the Evo II, here is my journey into surfski purchasing …….

I’m a novice Surfski paddler by paddling community standards and still have an incredible amount to learn but spend a lot of time on the water thanks to my location., being self employed and single.

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My first surfski was an old Red 7,  Life Saving Spec.  I spent a whole winter trying to get to grips with it and many a disappointing day.  Needless to say my remount skills were honed with this ski.  It was incredible to surf though as it didn’t need any help and simply zoomed off, mostly on it’s own.  My inability to paddle the Red 7 successfully was simply that it was a step too far for me as a beginner.  The bucket is above the waterline and my core strength and skill level simply didn’t give me what was needed to be able stay in the seat for long enough, especially on the turn.

DSC00859.JPGNext came a Nordic Kayaks (NK) Breeze which is their entry level ski.  A nice enough surfski that surfs well in bigger surf. I didn’t have an opportunity to demo this ski and it was a temporary measure until an intermediate ski became available.  It was a good opportunity to focus on paddling technique thanks to it’s stability. Upgrading to the NK Squall came a few months later and at  48cm in width compared to the 50cm of the Breeze, it was a better fit and I felt a bit more connected to the ski.  Being more connected to the ski allowed me to develop my skills in rough water and I had over a year of great paddling in the NK Squall.

2015 in the NK Squall gave a win at The Lismore Lighthouse Challenge, the Coquet Island Race, The Oban Race and 2nd at Windermere Solstice Race.  It’s been a great ski for me, however with a demanding training schedule and a shrinking derriere I was beginning to slide around the bucket and couldn’t quite get the leg length right.  It was time to either make some adjustments or upgrade. This is when having met Micky at Windermere came into it’s own.

Having paddled the Evo II demo for two weeks it was incredibly hard to go back to paddling the Squall.  It feels as though the  bucket design and footrest of the Think Evo II has been made from my measurements.  The ski seems to move with me thanks to this and there’s no slopping around the bucket.   I’d fallen in love and an incredible bonus is that I could have any colour combination my heart desired.  Happy Days!!

The ordering process and communication with Micky was smooth and easy, however he did ask for confirmation on my colour choice about 3 times!

As with most new boat purchases there is a delay in the original delivery date.  I’ve not heard of anyone receiving a new boat on time.  If you’ve had a new boat delivered on time please leave a comment and let us know the details.  Delivery was delayed by two months which meant an opportunity to meet Micky in Holland for the Dutch Coast Race where I would meet my new surfski and paddle it in the race.  It’s never wise to paddle a new boat for the first time in a race however, bending the rules is fun and I managed a 3rd in this race in my new ski.

See the previous blog about the Dutch Coast Race …….. back to my Pink Think.

With the Ocean Race Season at an end in the UK I’m spending the winter months honing my skills in my Evo II and am as much in love as when I first paddled her.

Unlike the Breeze and the Squall it takes very little effort to get on a wave or a runner and linking runners seems far easier.  With it’s additional length it’s faster than the Squall but not as fast to turn, however time in the bucket will most certainly improve this.

Lizelle going for the warm up

The outfitting on the Think is superior to any other ski I’ve seen with a lot going into the detail.  Carry handles on either side of the bucket mean I can carry it like a handbag (a lot more fun than a Hermes Vintage ‘Birkin’ Tote). Handles bow and stern also make for easy carrying to and from the water as well as making for very secure tie down on the roof rack.  My ski is in the “Elite”, Kevlar lay up which comes in at around 12.5kg.

 

 

There is a hatch at the front of the bucket providing essential space for necessities on longer trips.  Paddling the North Sea means it’s vital to carry additional kit for safety.12239650_10153324339772992_1029327466236395134_n

The footrest is adjustable at 5mm increments, this is a great feature as it allows for small adjustments necessary especially in winter when I need to wear thicker layers.  Although this might seem like an insignificant detail, the difference it makes to chafing on the sacrum is significant for maintaining comfort on a daily basis.

The footplate is also bigger and angled making for a far more comfortable leg drive.  Foot straps are also adjustable, making paddling in bootees or barefoot easy. The angle of the steering pedals are also fully adjustable so small feet have as much control as bigger feet!  This helped me in reducing the fishtailing which I had great difficulty with in the Squall. This feature really helps in the bigger surf too as you can really “tune” the boat to the conditions where you might need exact control. If you back the pedals off, you have less foot contact and hence less immediate control which makes for a more relaxed paddling style on longer, more mellow paddling conditions. All of this is possible without touching the rudder housing as it is done in the cockpit by using the little white device shown in the picture above (just above my tootsies and below the hatch).

The rudder fitting has a hatch closure which I’m sure will increase it’s life span.  We all know how harsh the sea can be on these fittings when they are exposed.

The ski has an in-built reed deflector, a fantastic addition for those of us who have to often train on flat water full off debris.  I particularly appreciate this addition as I had to import one for the Squall and is invaluable when training on canals and rivers are a must when the sea is simply not an option.

I had my first experience of shore surfing in her on Sunday 27/12/15 and I am absolutely over the moon with the way the ski handles in bigger waves.  It’s far easier to stay on the wave for much longer and even being able to correct a broach on the wave.  Allowing some waves to break on the back of the ski didn’t seem to have much of an impact on steering and simply propelled me forward faster reaching 18.9kmph on one run.

I’m very much looking forward to racing my Pink Think EVO II in 2016 and at the moment I cannot see a change of ski anywhere in the near future.

There is a saying “Stability before Speed”, this is true but my experience of choosing a surfski is quite different to date.  I’ve tried a number of surfkis in addition to those mentioned in the post and although some were better than others it is my belief that a good bucket fit is essential.  Having seen a couple of friends purchase surfskis in the last few months it became even more evident that fit is as important.  If the ski doesn’t suit the paddler’s build it simply won’t sit in the water properly which in turn affects stability. In addition, paddling for any amount of time becomes increasingly difficult due to discomfort. Being so comfortable in my EVO II means I can paddle as much as I like while being fully focussed on paddling rather than comfort.

Your comments and own experiences would be very much appreciated.

DUTCH COAST RACE 2015

A small band of paddlers made the short trip over to Holland for this year’s Dutch Coast Race over the weekend of the 1st to the 4th of October. This small but select(ive) group comprised:-

Lizelle prerace
Lizelle Kemp from Scotland
Martin Tonge from the North West
Onno Bokhove
Onno Bokhove from Leeds
Mark Ressel from Devon
Gus pre race
Gus England from Bournemouth
Micky gus and martin (2)
Micky McDonald from Vancouver

all who met up with our inside man Micky McDonald from Vancouver Canada by way of most countries you could THINK of during his long stint behind the wheel of his Mercedes camper.

The weekend kicked off early with an impromptu paddle clinic on the Friday afternoon hosted by the surfski doyenne that is Oscar Charlupsky for those early birds/ super keen athlete’s wanting to recce the area around Castricum an Zee.


friday paddle clinic with oscar

This was followed in the evening by a pre-race evening meal at a secret location! It must have been secret as it took us the best part of an hour to find the venue in the small town of Bakkum!!

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Excited conversation mostly about the upcoming weekend was interspersed with beautiful food & copious amounts of wine mostly the doing of a certain Mr Charlupsky!! As the evening wound down people made their way to their various accommodations in preparation for tomorrow’s main event of the 18.5 km downwind surfski race. With 78 entries all surfski’s except 3 OC1’s from Germany it was probably the biggest race most of us Brits had been involved in.

Arjan and Thijs briefing  The routeRace BriefingSaturday morning dawned early (& foggy) for the short journey to Sport At Sea (via Micky’s camper for the best bacon butties of the weekend) for registration & race briefing.

Ski Trailers Coach

Numbers on boats & safety gear checked the ski’s were expertly loaded onto 4 trailers for the 45min journey to the start line in Hargen aboard 2 luxury coaches.

Start first turn

dcr run start

All bodies & boats arrived intact for a 2pm start of 57 ski’s & the 3 OC1’s. A testament to the race organisation we got away 4 mins early (according to my garmin).

The weather was warm for this time of year but very light winds made it hard going for most of the field although I for one had no complaints as it meant the chances of a swim free paddle greatly increased! As it happened the best paddlers were unfazed & showed their class as Joep Van Bakel took the win in a little over 1:16mins closely followed by Gordan Harbrecht from Germany & our very own Mark Ressel 3rd.

The mens winners

Superb results also from Lizelle Kemp with a 3rd place overall in the Women’s class

Women's podium
Carola Cordez 1st – Stephanie Seelhof 2nd – Lizelle Kemp 3rd

Onno StretchingGus England breaking theGus England button1 top ten after outsprinting the Big ‘O’ up the beach and Onno Bokhove finishing in a very respectable 1:28 ish and was the only one doing any kind of warm up!

Excellent safety cover on & off the water meant that everyone made it bavolunteersck to
Castricum in one piece & in time for the prize presentations. That was the racing out of the way (only for today though) as tomorrow was to see the fiercely contested sit on top doubles sprint knock out races.

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Post-race dinner was provided at the very relaxing Club Zand literally a stone’s

Live Streaming of the World Champs in Tahiti
Live Streaming of the World Champs in Tahiti

throw along the beach where the serious (drinking) competition continued well into the night, an added bonus in the form of live streaming of the men’s world championships from Tahiti was broadcast on the clubs big screen.

Our 3rd place finisher Lizelle was treated to a 6-door Mercedes limo for her journey back to her evening accommodation. (They know how to treat the stars in Holland!)

Sunday dawned in a thick haze (mostly of the alcoholic type) as everyone headed back to Sport At Sea for the sprint doubles races. Our small group got into the spirit of things by putting up 3 pairings. Lizelle Kemp & Martin Tonge, Gus England & Micky McDonald & finally an Anglo Dutch team of Mark Ressel & Joep Van Bakel who would be considered the team to beat!

Clinic with Oscar1 Clinic with Oscar

The proceedings started with a clinic hosted by Oscar Charlupsky in his familiar no nonsense style. He kept things simple & in a way that everyone understood without getting too technical. After his dry land demo’s of various aspects of ski paddling it was time to hit the water & put into practice what we had learned from the big man.

For some strange reason the numbers on the beach were quickly whittled down to a dozen or so as the words “remount practice” were uttered!

Those that braved the brisk wind & still lingering haze (see 1st paragraph) were treated to skill & finesse of 1 of the legends of the surfski world. Clinic over & time to prepare for the sprints.

Sprint race start gus and micky sprints
Things didn’t start too well as 1 of the pairings were deemed medically (and possibly clinically) unfit to take the start by the on-site medics!!! Anyway the 2 remaining pairs put on a valiant effort both demonstrating excellent remount skills in the shore break. Gus & Micky made it to the 3rd round before bowing out, whereas Mark & Joep made it all the way to a very competitive final & came away with a 3rd place finish. A good weekend all round for Mr Icon with a 3rd in the main race & 1st masters as well.mark ressel and joep sprints
Sprint race winners

Prize presentations fsprints podiumollowed again in a very organised & timely fashion before most people either had one last paddle or took the chance to relax in one of the many beach front establishments before saying their goodbyes & thank you’s before making their journeys home.

Micky was still busy with client demo’s well into the afternoon. It was finally time to end proceedings load up Micky’s trailer & wave him off on his way back to a Canadian fall via several locations in the UK.

Many thanks to Micky for the use of a boat for the weekend & for his tireless efforts to promote the sport of surfski not just in the UK but worldwide.

Last but definitely not least a massive thank you to Arjan,Thijs,Roben,Joep & The organisersEmiel  & everyone at Surfski Holland for making the whole thing happen & for their fantastic enthusiasm & hospitality.

It’s a race for all abilities so keep an eye on  Surfski Holland Dutch Coast Race and Surfski Holland Facebook Page

Written by Martin Tonge from North Wales Surfski Paddlers

Edited by Lizelle Kemp from Surfski Scotland

Photographs Nataly Dannenberg Photography & Dutch Coast Race