10 April 2008

LIFESTART KAYAK FOR KIDS – a personal view by Lifestart CEO Bob Dewstow

9.00 am 30 March Manly Cove, Manly we rock up resplendent in our kayaking gear 2 hastily rented kayaks tied to the roof of the car.  Spot the number of boats and people and get enormously enthusiastic about what is about to happen.

Remove boats from roof rack 1 for me and 1 for my son 27 years my junior.  Take them down to the beach and go over and register and have a lovely lady paint a number over my arm and leg – identification I’m told.  Get Gail (my wife) to organise a coffee.  Reflect upon the banana I had for breakfast – turn down further food intake.

Together with son try to set up kayaks, all looking good as the start time begins to approach.

9:30am the big yellow three person kayaks take off.

Tension starting to build now as the day is underway and everything is looking good – great weather, great turnout and the challenge of getting to the end.

9:45 am get kayak into water and start to get used to the motion.  Take up position at the rear of the singles and doubles and wait anxiously for the hooter at 10 am.  Try not to hit too many other boats on the water.

10 am hooter goes and I begin to paddle – haven’t been in a kayak for 18 months but feel that I can only get better from here.  Get to end of Oceanworld wharf and see the first guys some two thirds of the way to the other shore think damn they’re fast – won’t be coming first then.  Also thinking – bugger this thing rocks in the swell.  Settle into 2nd last position and take focus on the 2 kayaks ahead and try and get my rhythm.

All goes well through the Spit Beach transition point and on my way to Balmoral Beach – lot of activity on the water so a lot of wake to get through.  Paddling strongly towards Balmoral, however, the pair in front of me are getting further away – must be slowing down somehow.  Round the heads can see Balmoral in front of me and think damn this is not hard at all.

11am – in the water caught in a wake I didn’t see coming – girls on kayak ask if I need help and carry on paddling.  Chase boat comes up and we try to figure – once out how you get back in.  20 minutes later it happens and I’m on my way again.  Spectacular.  Balmoral Beach here I come; wend my way through the boats to the Transition Point, stop and empty kayak of unwanted water, have a drink, get back in and I’m on my way again – knowing that I’m now last by a long margin.

Heading around the heads into Chowder Bay – water here is seriously different to the flat water to date and the Manly Ferry is out there heading for Manly – chase boat driver gives me tips on how to stay upright and I paddle like crazy into the wake of the ferry.  All in vain 11:30am in the water again – this time water deeper and more difficult to get back on kayak.  Spend next hour proving that PFD’s really do work until passing Coastguard boat helps me to get into chase boat.
This time figure that we take chase boat to next transition point and then paddle from there – however, learn that next boat is 5 kms ahead of me and time is running out – I’m supposed to be at the finish for the prize giving at 2pm.

Decide to stay with chase boat through to the end.

Record of the Day – Bob Dewstow – DNF.

That has merely given me an incentive that next year I’m going to do it all and more to the point I’m going to try and keep pace with my son and beat his 3hrs:30 mins.

All in all a most enjoyable day even though I spent a significant part of it in – rather than on the Harbour and I issue the challenge to all to come and see me do it next year – that is finish the event not spend time in the water – after all it is a kayaking event.

See you there.