The 2014 Makai Cup

on Feb 10 in Downwind, Races, Racing, Skis, Surfski, Think, Uncategorized by

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The tales of the 2013 Makai Cup are still told regularly, when a bunch of downwind frothers took on massive Southerly conditions and were rewarded with one of the classic races ever to be held in Australia. So when the 2014 calendar was announced, lots penciled in the 8th February with hope similar conditions would prevail. For us Sydney folk, Ulladulla is a 3 hour trek, so all week, paddlers were busy on Windguru and Sea Breeze checking out what was in store, and if the drive South would be worth it. NE’ers were showing all week, and with that the plans started to fall into place to converge on the South Coast. I’ve been in the area before on holiday and have surfed down there, but never paddled a ski, so I was pretty excited to see solid NE conditions predicted.

We landed into Ulladulla early on Saturday and registered. The Think Kayak tent was set up, with the new pink Eze attracted lots of attention. Standing in Ulladulla Harbour, the wind was steady, and felt like it was picking up. A quick trip back up the road to Bendelong for the start. This was probably the only bit of a negative of the day. A long drive to the finish to register, then a bit of a drive up to the start. A little improvement on logistics here would be great.

The course was a very honest 3km dash straight into the strong NE wind to a turning bouy, which set us on a great line south to Ulladulla. The start was pretty clean, with the Makai guys doing a great job and letting everyone away once a good line formed. The pace was on off the line, with the top guys knowing making it to the turn can first meant they would get first crack of the whip in the runs and maybe open a lead which would be hard to peg back. Almost as soon as you turned the buoy, your tail lifted, and you were hooking downwind. Yelps and yeeeoows were heard for the first km all around me, it was a blast out there. It was solid run, after run, ducking and weaving on the classic NE chop. There was a bit of south swell hanging around, which sometimes filled up a run when you were pushing down, and did make it a little more technical, but it really was a blast out there. Hooking down nice faces, trying to catch a breath before the next big effort, while taking in the awesome scenery, it really was one of those days that the sport is all about.

After 16km of bliss, the hard work of getting into the Harbour and the flat grind to the finish awaited. Some nice little runs were to be had to push us into the Harbour along the break wall and around to the finish line. While there were some tired bodies strewn around the small beach area, all had a smile and were stoked with a great day on the ocean.

You can find the full race results here.

A big shout out to the Makai Paddlers for a truly great racing experience in a stunning part of the world. You could see the work that had gone into making this race special and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the paddlers in expressing our gratitude. It was without doubt the best downwind race I’ve been at in years here in Australia. If you are contemplating the 2015 race, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s not a bad drive, accommodation is easy to arrange, and it’s a great place to paddle. And you get to stop in Berry to get donuts!

Looking forward to next year already.

Stewart O’Regan

Think Kayak Australia

Mob: 0404 236 638
Skype: stewieor