Eventful Lancelin Ocean Classic
The Lancelin Ocean Classic is always an event that is a little bit different from the normal 'round the cans' racing. With plenty of weed, cray boats as rounding marks, shallow reef and a Le Mans style beach start, you never really know what is going to happen on the day.
Andrew Cooksey took the win.... we'll let him tell the story, it's worth the read!
I'm so stoked to win the Lancelin Ocean Classic 2018! I've entered this event countless times on windsurfers and kites, and never really thought I could pull off a win. I tried pretty hard to choke though! Read on for my race report I'll some day be boring my kids with.
Also check this amazing finishing sequence (crash) captured by True Spirit Photography, I might have to buy some of these.
And a plug for my shop: WA SURF
Somehow it’s always the way that when it’s race day, the seabreeze will be late. The organisers pushed the start time out as far as possible, but were finally forced to start by 2:30pm. The wind was still really offshore, I’d say it was ESE. Every kite who got off the beach felt lucky to make it to the start line. Guys started on both tacks through the start line it was that offshore. The windsurfers were left stranded trying to do the classic beach ‘Le Mans’ start.
I had a pretty good start and was in solid second place to Mani out to the first boat. Then that boat saw us coming and started driving off. Wrong boat! Normally the LOC boats are cray boats but this year there were lots that were just run-abouts. I gybed down to the right boat and found myself in probably 10th.
The wind was still light so with my foil I was able to pick off a lot of board riders on that 2nd tack. I watched the few guys still ahead of me (Alty, Mani and Dale) fall into bad wind as they approached the mark near the beach. So I gybed extra early to stay in good wind. I had to put in two extra gybes to make the mark, but it was worth it, and got me back into second.
I was dragging a bit of weed so I was slowly losing ground on Alty. But then he kept crashing the gybes with nerves so it kept me in the game. Finally I had a crash on one of the straights and kicked the weed, and my speeds went from averaging 45kmph to about 53. Now when Alty crashed I was able to get ahead. Also at this point the wind filled in to I’d guess 23 knots. Alty and I were so lit on 13s and apparently Mani was on a 15! Reaching on a foil at full speed is never comfortable, so with ocean swells with extremely gusty winds it was scary. We knew one crash would cause a 100m skid and swim to the board, probably losing a minute of time.
For the last two legs I was in front, freaking out about how I’m going to choke. It’s a lot harder to go as fast as possible while searching for the markers. But balancing that I know it’s hard to overtake when you’re behind. Around the last outer mark I can’t remember what happened but Alty passed me. Now we’re coming in basically together, trying to find the gates that lead the safe passage through the reef. We had a bit of yelling discussion between us to work out we were too high for the first gate. Both of us would be okay with getting second place to the other, so it was a rare time we weren’t fighting to the death.
Alty took a punt on getting an Easterly puff and went as low as he could to make the gate without gybing, but instead he got a lull and his kite fell into a ball. I was able to see this happen to him, anticipate the lull, and pull up make sure I had line tension. Then pull off two more sketchy gybes to get through the gate.
Now I’m clear ahead, I just have to navigate the reef and finish without hitting the bottom. I didn’t look behind me, figuring Alty and Mani would be right there. I followed the gates and the water seemed deep. But just as I was about 150m from the beach finish I ran aground on the weedy/sandy bottom and crashed. It was only waist deep which is generally too shallow to start on a foil, but I was too far from the finish to body drag. Shit. I tried to get going and my foil dragged and stopped. I reset my board tried again, this time just forcing it to go through the weed and it worked, I got up on the foil.
Mani’s kite now right in my peripheral (see that aerial photo). We’re both at full speed and ‘control’ crash into the beach (another photo), dragging up the sand and across the line. But I was headed for the finish mat on the left of the arch (they tell you this at the start), and Mani went right. So it says I beat him by 6 seconds but hitting the beach there was less than a second in it.
I’m still stoked to pull off the win, even though I tried so hard to give it up! Overall my best leg averaged 55kmph with a max of 59. The poor windies got screwed at the start, so once again they were no where to be seen at the finish.
Also my heart rate at the finish was 190, don’t tell my doctor…