I turned up to Mt Maunganui beach Friday before race day and like a little kid rushing to the tree on Christmas morning I rushed to the beach to be greeted by lines of 2m blue-green swell rolling up the coast. Even though there were still 18hrs till the race started it was excitement plus - if the wind turned to match the southerly swell direction we were going to be in for a great day.
The 2018 edition of the James Moore-Morial race started from the Maketu end and as we drove from the race briefing in pilot bay to the start in Maketu I pondered my odds of even getting to the start line if I had to navigate a surf zone anything like the Mount Main Beach. Fortunately at Maketu it was 1/3 of the size and the whole field got out the back without too many worries - still nothing like a 1m wave breaking in your face to wake you up and get you in the zone.
The start was pretty civilized as it was sheltered from most of the wind, the water was pretty smooth and the boat would mostly go where I told it too. It wasn't till a few kilometers into the race before the wind and waves started to provide any assistance.
A few brave paddlers decided to head out to sea hoping to hook a ride on the 3m+ swell. However those with some local knowledge knew that on an outgoing tide it pays to stick close to shore and they got a free ride on the currents flowing up the coast. The rest of us (me included) had no idea whatsoever just paddled in a straight line or where ever the wind pushed us.
After 25 odd kilometers charging up the coast the final challenge was to get around "The Mount" and into Pilot bay.
Unfortunately this year the end of the race co-incided with the outgoing tide racing out the mouth of the Tauranga Harbor. The water looked and felt like we were paddling up stream (just what you want right at the end of a 30km race) and my personal average speed dropped from about 13km/hr down to 8km/hr.
Whilst the race had a challenging finish it was a great day followed up with a couple quite ales at prize-giving comparing war stories and if I wasn't so pumped for the King of the Bay next weekend I would already be planning next years trip.
Congratulations to not only the medalists but also everyone who started, paddled hard and crossed the finish line with a smile on their face!
Full series results here: Mens, Womens
Full results can be found on the race Facebook page