The Celtic Crossing – Breaking & Setting World Records

I was contacted at the end of March by Glenn Eldridge, he asked me if I was keen to pair up with Tarryn Brown and paddle across the Celtic Sea. We were to paddle from St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly to Sennen Cove, the cove next to Land’s End. I didn’t hesitate – I said yes straight away.

So I really couldn’t believe it when we arrived on Friday 16th May and met up with Tarryn to realise that this was all coming together and happening. Friday evening was going to be our first time in the boat together, so we needed to set it up and get it all ready. After that we were going to have a final meeting and briefing. That is when it all got real.

Setting u our Surfski

Setting up our Surfski’s

Friday evening photo shoot

Friday evening photo shoot

Saturday Tarryn and I met up at Costa Coffee, well it would’ve been rude not to, Dan Latham was also there. Dan was to be our first responder for the crossing. After a large coffee, which I didn’t realise Costa are not kidding when they say large!! We headed down to Carbis Bay Beach to go back out on the water for a final paddle before our boat left for the Scilly Isles. Tarryn and I felt good in the boat so we were happy and all set. Lewis Kirton, Vincent Naert and Mark Slater left on Saturday afternoon with our boats and spent the night on the Scilly’s.

Sunday morning I got picked up from my hotel and off we went to Falmouth to get on to a beautiful Sunseeker, thank you Carbis Bay Hotel for the use of your Skipper and your boat. This boat was going to go off first and follow the SUP (Mark Slater) and the paddler boarder (Tom Butler). But first it was going to take us to The Scilly Isles. The journey over was quite bumpy and there was a light breeze in the perfect direction, excitement was in the air.

We had a lot to do once we got onto the Scilly’s and bit more prep work before we could set off. The time slipped away very quickly and before I knew it Mark and Tom were about to leave and we would be leaving about an hour later.

The time was here, and off we went. We were being supported by Jonny Stevenson, an experienced sailor, great navigator and all round good guy! So we had to head out of St Mary’s and paddle around the Island to the front before we could head towards Sennen Cove. Well not as simple as that, the tides and currents are very strong so we had to count that in and then the approaching shipping lane – which is the busiest shipping lane in the UK. I had sat down with Glenn and Jonny and plotted my course, so I was happy. Once you get about an hour away from the Scilly’s and start to lose sight of land it’s not easy to stay on course without a compass or GPS. I had my faithful Garmin and our support boat had a compass, that was pretty much it. I strayed off course a couple of times, but Jonny soon reminded me which direction I should be heading in. Tarryn and I we were combining so well in the boat, everything was great…..we were on the same “page” so to speak. We passed Mark and Tom (SUP/Paddle Boarder) after about one and a half hours, they were a bit further east than us, so we didn’t see them well enough to ask how they were feeling.

Then came our 2 hour mark, the time where you cannot see any land anywhere. Its the most surreal feeling, just open ocean – actually so beautiful words cannot describe the sight of nothing but open ocean. We stopped for a moment, took a picture (of course) but really just needed to take in the beauty and feeling of being out there. I think that was my high point, besides stepping on dry land that is!! Once we could see land there was a point to aim for, with about an hour or so to go we could actually see the Lighthouse at the end of Land’s End and finally had fixed landmark to aim for. We had a left a bit later than we should from the Scilly’s, so the tides had changed slightly to how I had viewed them on the charts, we could not longer “scoot” inside of the lighthouse but rather aim left of it. This was the hard part…..once we were in line with the lighthouse we hit the current which now had turned against us. Thank you Tarryn for pushing me through this part and keeping my concentration high. I just remember saying “I don’t know where the harbour is”, Tarryn just said aim for the cliffs, “go closer to the cliffs”, “use the runs”, it wasn’t easy but then suddenly I saw the harbour wall, once you see it from sea its easy but it blends in so well with the land that I just couldn’t make it out…..it was also overcast and almost 8pm by that stage!

Almost there......

Almost there……

Finished :)

Finished :)

WE DID IT!!! We actually made the crossing. A dream of Glenn’s had turned into reality, actually it turned into the most fun and challenging adventure I have ever done. The feeling when we had finished was sheer enjoyment. I had a great time out on the water, thank you Tarryn for asking me to complete this with you, I really enjoyed the challenge. We completed the 52.7km crossing in 4hrs20min32secs, the first ever all female crew to cross this stretch of water on a human powered craft. World record set – BOOM!!

Next in was Lewis and Vincent, also in a double Surfski, they had a great paddle completing it in 3hrs55min, (another World Record?? Yet to be finalised) Glenn, who started with Lweis and Vincent, came in 6min later (World Record Number 3?). What an awesome paddle by everyone.

Mark Slater (SUP) broke his paddle with about 5km (I think, it could be more) to go and his spare was too far away now, so he just lay down and soldiered on. Great respect for him, its so easy to make an excuse and just give up, but not Mark – Well Done (World Record Number4?)

Tom Bulter (Paddle Boarder), allround crazy for taking this challenge on a paddle board…….what a champion(World Record Number 5?)!! Huge respect that was tough.

The picture below sums up all our emotions, Glenn and Tom the backbone of this operation – thank you guys :)

These emotions sum up our whole journey

These emotions sum up our whole journey

The Team after an epic adventure

The Team after an epic adventure

A big thank you to the guys who sponsored my kit Knysna Racing for my paddles and Vaikobi for my paddling kit.

A massive thank you must go out for all guys who supported us during this great challenge.

Carbis Bay Hotel – getting us to the Scilly Isles and supporting us on the way back!

St Ives Boats – Taking our Surfski’s over the Scilly’s and also supporting us all the way back!

Urban Beach UK – Keeping us warm with gear for off the water, great warm kit. Thanks

Osprey

Robie Robes – Great, these towelling robes are just plain awesome!!

Please visit the crowdfunder page Crowdfunder and pledge something towards our fund raising for two charities The Wave Project and The Joe Way Paddle for Life, every little helps and there are some great things to purchase.

 

 

First at Eurochallenge 2014

I have just returned to the UK from sunny (and windy) Spain. The Eurochallenge Surfski World Cup took place this weekend in a small town near Alicante called Villajoyosa. I have been coming to this race for 6 years now and I love this race. It is a great event, not just the race, but the whole weekend. Starting from Valor Chocolate on tap during the briefing and registration, dinner after the downwind, lunch after the prize giving and then a final lunch on Sunday after the sprint races. It really keeps the atmosphere going with everyone exchanging race stories.

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For the first time we had the best downwind conditions ever. The wind in the morning was light, but by midday it had started to pick up and once we were on the bus heading for the start I could see some decent runners out on the water. Now everyone was getting excited, then when we got to the start the wind was pumping and it looked like an awesome downwind was in store for us. While we were getting ready the wind kept picking up and even the race organisers were getting nervous, but the final call came in and we were to race!!!

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The race started with a very difficult side wind for about 2-3km (even the camera boat getting swamped – hence no epic race photo’s from the water) followed by a technical section of a slightly side swell but wind behind us, then the best part……from Benidorm Island to the finish it was all behind us and what fun!! Because of the size of the swell and the strong wind, I hardly saw anyone until we got close to the finish and we all converged to round the buoy and head for the line. Well done to everyone who finished, it was a tough race.

Thank you to the organisers for letting us race in brilliant conditions :)

Top 5 Open Women

  1. CHLOE BUNNETT
  2. LUCIA CORTES ORTUÑO
  3. AITANA G. GARCIA BERNABEU
  4. ISABEL LLORCA VAELLO
  5. MARIA RODRIGUEZ INIESTA

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Top 10 Open Men

  1. SEAN RICE
  2. JASPER MOCKE
  3. DAWID MOCKE
  4. KENNY RICE
  5. DANIEL SANCHEZ VILORIA
  6. ESTEBAN MEDINA OJEDA
  7. WALTER BOUZAN SANCHEZ
  8. FEDERICO VEGA SUAREZ
  9. GLENN ELDRIDGE
  10. LUIS VENTURA

 

 

Cape Point Challenge

Cape Town Surfski along with Fenn, Vodacom and host of sponsors made it possible to set up an awesome race this year.

A week before the Cape Point Challenge Cape Town Surfski hosted a world class downwind event. For the first time in a long time we had the most classic conditions for a downwind race, it was perfect. I arrive in Fish Hoek on the Friday before the race – which was due to be held on the Monday. As I arrived I got changed and hopped onto a downwind, the famous Miller’s Run. Which was also the race course for Monday’s race. The course would take us from Miller’s Point upwind to Partridge Point and the downwind to Fish Hoek, the upwind section was about 3km…..then it was one of the best downwinds I have paddled in a long time :)

Check out Cape Town Surfski for the results.

During the next week I did a few Miller’s runs to get to grips with what would be the final 12km of the Cape Point Challenge. Also during this week I took time to catch up with friends, what I love about racing around the world is seeing everyone at different locations throughout the year.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to do over 50km and I didn’t think I had done enough distance, quite worried I would hit the wall before I got to the end. Anyway there was huge swell predicted so hitting the wall was the last of my worries….also the wind was forecast to be a pumping South Easterly. Pete Cole had the difficult call of whether to let us go around the Point or to keep us in False Bay. He made a decision on Friday and we gathered Friday evening for the briefing and the decision was to stay in the bay and the course would start at Simon’s Town go out to Cape Point and then back to Fish Hoek. This was a tough but great decision by Pete, a very good call as the swell on the Atlantic side was huge!!

5:45 am was my start time and so we headed down to Simon’s Town early, waking up and trying to eat breakfast at 4am is not easy!! When we got to Simon’s Town – Long Beach – it was quite sheltered but you could see at the harbour wall that it was going to be a tough race. The wind was blowing about 20kts (gusting about 25kts), 25km headwind was going to be hard and the only way I could do it was to break the whole race into sections. The pace at the start was “friendly” and we all just got into the race. I felt quite good so I decided that as my downwind is not as good as my competition I would go for a strong paddle into wind. So I put my head down and paddled. We hugged the coast quite tightly and following these guys through the kelp and close to the rocks was an experience!! I was pleased to reach the buoy at Buffels as I knew we then only had about 3-4km to the point….but that was 3-4km of brutal headwind!!

Once we got to Cape Point there was a marker buoy to round and it should be downwind home….after banging into a headwind for 25km there wasn’t much of a downwind to start. The sea was very messy and it took a lot of energy to find and get on the runs. I caught sight of Nikki Mocke as we went to go downwind and basically aimed for a similar line. The runs really picked up at about Partridge Point (+/-15km to go) and from there I just concentrated on getting as many runs as possible and hoping to put my paddle down to rest as often as I could. I was so amazed that with so many paddlers on the water once you all take your own line you hardly see anyone else until you come into Fish Hoek. So I had no idea of where I was in the field, maybe a good thing as after 40km going at your own pace is good. I finished in 4th and it was a result I wasn’t expecting, very happy with my race :)

Thanks to Nikki Mocke and her crew for a great couple of races!!

Cape Point

Photo courtesy of DrumBeat Photography

Top 10 Ladies

  1. Nikki Mocke       4.24:43
  2. Bianca Beavitt    4.29:55
  3. Michele Eray      4.29:56
  4. Chloe Bunnett    4:45:12
  5. Nikki Russel       4.52:50
  6. Kim van Gysen  4.54:56
  7. Eloise Horne      5.00:20
  8. Kerry Louw        5.09:36
  9. Angie Mouden   5.20:30
  10. Ale Adie             7.15:23

Check out the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ42tN3VNyY

Thanks to Knysna Racing for your support.

Happy New Year to everyone, see you in 2014 :)

Game Magazine

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The Game Magazine, a local sports mag in Dorset, did a nice little interview with me. Check it out here

http://www.thegamemagazine.co.uk/female-focus/female-focus-chloe-bunnett.html

It is fantastic to have a local mag covering sports in our area and its great to get Surfski promoted in there as this area is perfect (in the summer when its warm) to paddle.

We are now coming to the end of the season here and this weekend is last of the British Series races, it is being held right here in Branksome, Dorset on Saturday the 7th September at 10am – Poole Bay Surfski Race 2013. There is also another race in Poole Harbour run by Poole Canoe Club, they are encouraging surfski’s to get involved and enter. This race is usually pretty flat, but it takes in some of the most beautiful Islands in Poole Harbour and is on the 22nd September 2013 and starts from Lake Pier in Hamworthy, Poole.

My season is not coming to an end as I am training for the Cape Town Downwind and Cape Point Challenge which are both held in December in Fish Hoek, Cape Town. 15th & 21st of December (respectively).

Thanks once again to The Game Magazine for a great article, also to Allwave and Knysna Racing for your continued support.

See you on the water

:)

1st ICF World Surfski Championships

I have just returned from the first ICF World Surfski Champs in Portugal, this event was put on by Nelo with the driving force of Marisa and Andre behind it. They did an amazing job, along with their team and not forgetting all the volunteers as without them we could not have had such a great event!

Looking down the start line seeing over 350 boats lined up was just unbelievable. The womens race had 50 entrants, it was incredible to see so many of us lined up ready to go. We used a paddle lock system, which they use at The Sella race in Spain, I have never used them before so it did add to the nerves. Actually the paddles came out smoothly and before I knew it I was in my boat and racing my heart out. The race was fast out to the turn buoy as there was a hotspot at the buoy. Teneale Hatton, Nikki Mocke and Michelle Burn broke away and raced for the hotspot, which Teneale won! I had said before my race that if I wasn’t almost dead at the end then I hadn’t paddled hard enough – so I raced as hard as I could. The runs, and the wind, virtually stopped with about 5 or so km’s to go so I knew then it was just going to be a grind to end.

Unfortunately for Michelle Burn she missed the final turning buoy and had to go back out around it and then finish, which allowed Michele Eray to take the win, great paddling from Michelle Burn as there was still a sprint finish and she finished in second place with Nikki Mocke in third. Teneale Hatton in 4th, Alexa Cole in 5th, Angie Mouden in 6th, Kirsten Flanagan in 7th, Me in 8th, Bianca Beavitt in 9th and Sofia Coelho in 10th. That’s the top ten ladies in the World this year. Awesome paddling – it was great racing you all.

Finished at the Finish

Racing to the finish

Huge congrats to Sean Rice taking the Gold in the mens race, with Tim Jacobs in 2nd and Cory Hill in 3rd! Great racing there as the men came in thick and fast!! Thoughts go out to Dawid Mocke, who is a real ambassador for surfski paddling around the world, and could not race as he fell ill and was rushed to hospital to have his appendix out, so he couldn’t race!!

The standard of Ladies racing has really stepped up a gear so I am pleased with my result as my goal was to achieve a top ten place overall and to be World Champ in my age group. I got a Gold in the 35-39 age group – so my goals were achieved!

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Team GB did very well coming home with three medals: Colin Smith Gold in the 60-64 : Glenn Eldridge Bronze in the 40-44 : and myself Gold in the 35-39! I might be biased but Team GB definitely won the Anthem singing contest and then led by Ivan we most surely got the party started!! What an awesome night.

The next day we raced doubles as a test event for the future World Championships. Myself and Greg Pienaar paddled together and just missed out on a top 10 finish, but we had a great race.

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It was great catching up with friends from all over the world again and making new ones!! Also I’m surprised I have not put on weight as I did have my fair share of the irresistible Pastel de Nata’s (a great Portuguese custard tart)!!

Thanks again to everyone and see you next year :)

For the full results click here ICF World Championships 2013

Icon Classic 2013

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We kicked off the GB Ocean Racing season with a classic race in North Devon. The Icon Classic was to be the first of three selection races for the GB Surfski Team which will compete at World Champs in Portugal in July. It attracted a record entry and a good few international paddlers. This race was breaking all records with a great line up of 7 ladies in the Open Women category – c’mon lets keep it up!!

The weekend forecast was looking good, mild breeze and warm. It sure was warmer than it has been and it was great to be out racing in summer weather. We headed out into a slight headwind to Mort Point – which was very kind to us and it was great fun punching through the run. Then turning to head along the coast, with the breeze coming slightly over our shoulder it was a very technical race and not much help until near the end, where we got some great runs. The route from Woolacombe to Combe Martin is STUNNING, such a beautiful coastline to race along.

I got off to an “OK” start and was in a good bunch heading out to Mort Point, from there Angie Mouden (France) went a bit wide and I stayed in a bit closer – still not sure which was better, don’t think there was much in it. As we came in to bay at Combe Martin there were some great runners and rebounds off the cliffs, I was so busy watching Angie and trying to close the gap a rebounding wave caught me off guard and before I knew it I was swimming. Lesson learnt – don’t worry about what other paddlers are doing and just focus on your own race! Angie had a great race and took the win, Well Done – it is great racing along side you :)

Benoit Le Roux (France) also had a great race and took the overall win with Glenn Eldridge (GB) in second and Mark Ressel (GB) in 3rd.

Open Men

1st – Benoit Le roux  1.17.30 (France)

2nd – Glenn Eldridge  1.17.50 (GB)

3rd – Mark Ressel       1.17.54 (GB)

4th – Jordan Roberts  1.20.27 (GB)

5th – Toño  Girón         1.23.18 (ESP)
Open Women
1st – Angie Mouden 1.27.26 (France)
2nd – Chloe Bunnett  1.29.32 (GB)
3rd – Jenna Ferris  1.34.37 (GB)

4th – Emily Corin  1.35.47
5th – Dee Paterson  1.50.16
6th – Jess Hanafin  1.57.37
7th – Ally Martin  2.00.28
Full Results on GB Ocean Racing
Next up is the second selection race in Weymouth, where we will race from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove!
To enter go to the GB Ocean racing website, entries are open so what are you waiting for?
See you on the water :)

 

Eurochallenge 2013

I always look forward to this race, it is one of my favorite venues. The Hotel that Club Nautico Villajoyosa organised for us was Hotel Allon – it is a great hotel. The hotel is right on the beach overlooking the start/finish and it has a great breakfast buffet.

We arrived very late Wednesday evening, my boat was only arriving on Friday morning so we had Thursday to kick around and meet up with our friends from SA, Spain, Portugal, Italy!! Also this gave us time to go to the best Chocolate shop – Valor Chocolate. A nice cup of pure chocolate with some “churros” and I think that was my perfect race fuel :)

I am going to be racing in an Allwave CX Surfski, I have tried it in South Africa but this would be my first race in the CX. It is a great boat, very comfortable. Also adding to a new boat this would be my first race with my new paddles from Knysna Racing, I am using the Swing LD and loving them.

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I felt good coming into this year’s race and new I would have a tough race against last year’s winner Jenna Ferris. It was decided that Saturday at 13:30 ish (Spanish Time) we would start the downwind race (22km) and Sunday would be the classic race (18km). Then the times added together from the two days to determine the final positions. With not much help from the wind on either days we all knew this was going to be a tough race. The first race we actually had a headwind to start off, but as we rounded the point the wind died completely. There were some runs from Benidorm Island home but wow you had to work for them. I raced as hard as I could and came in first with Jenna in second, I was very happy to have a lead going into day 2.

In the men’s race – Sean Rice had a great race and finished first ahead of 2nd placed Dawid Mocke and Japser Mocke in third.

Day 2 and it was going to tough, tired from the day before……not use to this two day racing thing :)!! The start would be a mass start from the beach, standing about 10m behind your boat – the spectators love to see this start. We then paddled a triangle heading back to where we started as there was a HOTSPOT, which Dawid Mocke claimed. Another great time for the spectators as everyone rushes towards the beach for the turn buoy to try and claim the HOTSPOT. Our course then took us out to Benidorm Island and back.

I finished first to win my first ever Eurochallenge Race, very happy all the hard work paid off!!

Sean Rice, Dawid Mocke and Jasper Mocke all held the same places as day 1. Well done everyone out there it was a tough two days, but very enjoyable and I will be back next year for sure.

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Next up are the first three (Icon Classic, Weymouth to Lulworth & St.Ives Paddlefest) of the GB Series races before we all head out to the World Champs in Portugal in July.

Thanks for all your support :)