|By Richard Ussher|
We arrived at the beach and Marcel and Nathan had already grabbed our gear and were setting our boats up. We were off in no time but almost immediately became concerned that there appeared to be no one ahead of us and no one following either. We had very nearly decided to turn back when a second team launched and then teams started pouring out of the transition in pursuit. It turned out we weren’t the only team with mixed abilities in the swim and the only complete team on the beach had been Faris’ but they’d been making a slower transition to the boats than us.
After a quick run on the island we were back in the boats for the sprint to the finish. We had managed to gain almost 5 minutes on the closest team, Vibram Sport from France, in the part of the race we’d expected to struggle in the most.
I finally also got a chance to ask Elina what she’d been doing so differently when we’d been having the bursts of speed in the swim and the answer was that she had used her arms! The rest of the time she’d been staying as straight as possible and just kicking as her lifejacket had been pulling too high over her head when she tried to do an arm stroke.
So after a more successful than hoped for start to the race we had a great feeling within the team heading into 2 kayaking stages, where we were hopeful of putting some more time on our rivals.
Heading off from the Le Mans start it was complete chaos until we got clear of the main pack. There was a navigation choice whether to head inside a prominent boulder bank and get flatter water but a slightly longer course or take the short option and risk the rougher water.
We chose the outside and rougher water and were rewarded with some good runs down the wave faces as we raced neck and neck with the other NZ team ADCO. We had taken our sails completely down by now to try and save on wind resistance as we were heading mainly into the wind and slowly we managed to build up a small lead over the others. As we passed the end of the boulder bank we could see our route choice had paid off as we had a healthy lead on the teams who’d chosen the inside route.
A slight bit of confusion did ensue after the following CP when the satellite map and the actual coast didn’t seem to match up at all for a while. We made a detour around the conflicting headland which appeared to be under construction - and in fact it was. Since the time the satellite map had been taken they’d managed to add a peninsula close to 500 metres long straight across our intended course. Sanity was restored as we detoured around and found several islands which were correctly on the map.