By Stewart O’Regan
Tingira Australia Association Vice President David Ruckert was on hand for the latest round of the Paddle NSW Open Ocean and Harbour series took place on Sydney Harbour recently. Now it being my home turf, I’ll of course be a bit biased, but I don’t think you can get a better place for a race. Stunning harbour, lots of free parking, easy access to the water, and a top notch new course, it really has it all. Sunday was a pearler of a day with cloudless skis and the forecasted SW winds arrived right on queue. Shark Island Paddlers had gone to a lot of work to bring us a new course, which incorporated two laps of Shark Island, as well as two trips to South Head. The SW winds were perfect for this direction course, and while the upwind sections were honest, the downwind sections were a lot of fun.
Lining up along the beach at Tingira Reserve, when the siren went, there was a furious pace set in the direction of Shark Island. Clockwise around the island, back across towards Vaucluse, and then a straight run to South Head was the course for the day, with the long course paddlers doing two loops before heading back to Rose Bay, making for an excellent 17.5km challenge. One of the features of any race on the Harbour is boat traffic, and there are many opportunities to use it to your advantage, as well as miss out and write yourself a hard luck story. At the pointy end of the race, a dive boat passed and split the big leading pack, leaving a lot of guys working hard to make the best of their gap, and others chasing hard trying to close down.
The great conditions once we turned Shark Island made the run down to South Head all the more
interesting. Miss a run and you would leave yourself a hell of a lot of work to catch up, so it really was a case of foot to the floor the whole way. Once the two laps of the island had been complete, it was a hard 2km straight down to Rose Bay with a stiff wind to content with, but there was lots of big ferry wash to chase the whole way down. Work hard and be rewarded was the name of the game to the finish.
Mark Anderson took out the race in fine style, claiming the Tingira Bell Trophy, his name joining Paul Smith’s on the plaque. A special mention goes out to the Shark Island Paddlers who worked really hard behind the scenes to provide an awesome course on Sydney Harbour. There are too many names to list, and I’d hate to miss one out, but on behalf of all the paddlers on the day, thank you. Thanks to Val Titov for the great race photos and for allowing us to use them.