NAROOMA surf ski paddler Nick Ziviani has competed against the world’s best at the Maui Jim Molokai World Championships 2014 in Hawaii.
He was happy with performance in the gruelling 52km race, placing 28 out of 54 solo paddlers with a time of 4.42.53.
He was invited to compete based on his performances at surf ski events around Australia and he was competing against paddlers from around the world. His sponsor Epic Kayaks provided a surf ski over in Hawaii for him to race on.
Here is Nick’s account of the race.
The race day starts at 4.30am with a plane flight from Oahu to the island of Molokai. Then there is an hour bus ride to the start line, followed by a four-hour wait for a 11am start to allow for the trade winds to supposedly pick up, so you hide under a palm tree in the shade and try to stay hydrated in this time.
The race starts with the forecast being for light 2 to 5 knot variable winds which were sometimes a headwind to no wind assistance at all. The air temp was 32 degrees 87 per cent humidity and a water temp of 27 degrees.
“Each paddler is required to have a backup boat; the boat is supplied with fluid and food for the paddler though I don't know of anybody who had a sandwich along the way,” Nick said.
The captain of the backup boat gives the referee boat for the event constant updates of their paddler’s position and physical status at regular intervals.
“As the conditions were very hot there were paddlers who did not finish the race as they became dehydrated and couldn't stop from cramping as this is the worst thing that can happen,” he said.
“The skis on average are only 43cm wide and 6.2 metres long and if you start to cramp it’s not a nice thing to be sitting in.
“These skis are capable of regularly reaching speeds of 25km along the ocean swells or runs with average speeds of 18 kilometres per hour.
“Once you get 10k from Oahu you begin to get the rebound swell from the shoreline cliffs.
“The crossing from Molokai to Oahu is called the Kawai Channel, which in English means the channel of bones.
“There is lots of current and the average ocean depth is 1.5kms deep until you get within 1 kilometre from Oahu and it comes up to 500 metres deep, so you get these massive Pacific ocean swells that hit this ledge and then get rebounded off the cliffs and come back at you to the size of double decker buses.
“All my racing has been in Australia off the east coast in some rough conditions but I have never been in anything like the ocean swell of Hawaii along with the size of rebound swell to be felt so far from land.
“I was fortunate to have my friend and coach Clint Robinson to help me with the training for this event as he had won this race in 2013 and knew how I would need to prepare for this event.
“He gave me a 16 week training program that consisted of three hour day including paddling and cross training six days a week.
“A typical Saturday training paddle would have my wife Tash, drive me to Bermagui where I would paddle back to Dalmeny or reverse if there was a north easterly wind blowing or if the sea was to rough I would do laps of Wagonga Inlet until my GPS had counted to 40ks,” Nick said.