Archive for February, 2011
DAY OF GIANTS.
Race day. We looked over the balcony. The the surf was pumping and clean. It had dropped from the day before but was still big.
Four rescue inflatable, two jet skis and a helicopter, some serious rescue cover.
We were the first out for a practice row. It was low tide and dumping on the bar. The whole beach was watching. The pressure was on. We were all very anxious. We got out and back no dramas.
A few crews then went out after the safety briefing. Most were successful, but two boats backshot, (one end over end), The boat suffered extensive damage (unraceble).
We we’re in the first heat lane three. We left from the beach and got a good start on the rest of the field. The waves were BIG!! We headed out over a couple of waves and Gary made the call in some choice words to row for our lives. We had an idea what was coming!! You can’t know what is going to happen in that situation. You’re in a rowing boat, in mahoooosive waves !!! We hit the wave and from what we can remember it peeled into the boat and landed on Ed in 2nd stroke seat. The lip took George’s hat off in bow as it came over. Gary our sweep (steersman) was down in the trenches huddled in the bottom of the boat, (“He said he was under the water in the boat thinking hold on!! We’ll come up in a minute and then we’ll carry on rowing !! I believe him. It was total destruction. First thing when you eventually come up is count heads and signal to the jet ski everyone has surfaced. My heart sank, first race and we have been destroyed. But then we noticed that the other boats were also involved in massive wipeouts. The race was still on. Ed is hurt, I can see that. But the race is still on ! We swam around and got the oars and boat back together. Rowed around the can and got a fourth. We were happy with that.
Second heat. Fourth Out and back no dramas.
Third heat. We had it all to do to make to semis. We headed out in lane five in front of lion rock. (By this point one boat had already been destroyed on these rocks). We headed away from the rocks as best we could on the start. Into the war zone ! Went over a couple of waves and Gary gave us the call to row like hell. Gary kept his cool and didn’t freak us out with what was coming next !! We went up the next wave and headed for orbit !! It was luck of the God’s… the boat was vertical, Jules (bowman) must have felt like he was in space…. adrenaline was at an all time high and we caught a big wave back and we were first back to the beach.
Semi final. Stayed out of trouble. The rowing was coming together we got a second.
The Jamaican bob sleigh team are now in the final of The day of Giants.
The final. We got a clean start and hit the cans first. This was our race, we were heading back to the beach two lengths ahead of everyone else. (is this really happening, are we dreaming?). We were quite far inside the surf zone and a wave picked up, it was not a big one. We all moved to the back of the boat. We had it in the bag. The wave hit and we flipped the boat. I was flung out (Stroke) and it was up to me to try and swim to the beach and touch the flag along with Jules ! I did not think we were that deep. But my heart sank as I tried to swim for the flags Jules and I exchanged glances of desperation as our situation unfolded. The Omanu crew hit the beach and the others were advancing. Swimming/wading through water trying to get to the flag was very demoralising. We came in fourth maybe fifth not sure. Grown men felt like blubbling.
Kiwis/Aussies and spectators only had good things to say to us. We have some classic memories of the day. It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to go rowing with your mates into a wave the size of a house !!
Anyway, move on. It was prize giving. We got a prize for one of the best wipeouts and then the TOGA party !!!! I’ve got a very thick head.
I’m writing this on our balcony 7am the morning after and looking down on Piha bay at some classic surf.
Now going for a surf..
Some photos of last year’s event. By all accounts the waves don’t appear to be any smaller but the forecast is for it to drop a little. Onshore today but likely to go offshore tomorrow… here’s hoping.
We spent this arvo re-wiring the pumps and setting the rowlocks etc… all usual stuff for the cool runnings crew. We watched the Aussies go out and just about make it, rolling once and using the rip on the left hand side.. don’t know if it would have been possible to make it without the rip. Racing in lanes will be interesting. It was hard to stay on the beach due to high testosterone levels but a lack of spare kit meant staying on the beach was the only option.
12 cameras filming the racing, from each headland and a helicopter, promising some good footage.
Fueling up tonight for the BIG day tomo.
The boys are raring to go …
Not much to report, swell is huge and onshore but the sun is certainly shining. The Aussie crews have arrived.
We are off to Auckland to pick up our boat and carry out a few jobs to make it seaworthy ! Then off to Horses for a BBQ with the NZ and Aussie crews.. Testosterone levels are going to be at all time high!
Check out photo.. The effects of protein powder.
We have moved into our accommodation at Piha.. We have certainly lucked out and have been lent a house on the edge of the mountain overlooking the surf-break. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of a local couple Mark and Vee. It is an amazing place.
The posters went up today for the event titled THE DAY OF THE GIANTS. One big wave, 25 rowers, 3 boats, 3 countries… (AUS UK NZ) not many entries due to last years carnage.
We have been surfing to get used to the ferocious rips and heavy waves. Today was three times over head.. This is going to be interesting in the boat.
Congratulations to Rus Crofts of Bristol Barrs fame and his lovely wife, Jo, on the birth of their baby son.
James William Crofts was born at 00:19 today weighing in at an impressive 9 lbs 3 ozs. Rumour has it that on arrival he was heard to shout “trail!”
First reports are that he has his parents’ traits. Angelic features like his mother but a worrying tendency to dribble down his front when in drink…just like his old man.
Congrats to all three – welcome to the no sleep team.
Yesterday we made the the semi final and were first to the can at that point… mass confusion… we blew it. All a bit tired from so much drag racing and now looking forward to Piha. We have secured a boat and are off there tomorrow. BIG forecast, they have said there will be a helicopter taking film and photos. I think this is going to be the one !!!!
I walked around the corner of our tent to find one of our A celeb crew members (George) signing autographs..
Just heard from Nick and Ed with the latest news and photos.
Last day of racing…It has been drag racing. all flat, hard hard work and full on racing. We seem to be up with them until the turn. In fact in our first race we turned before the Aussies and equal with the Kiwis. We have learnt a lot over the past week and there’s more racing over this weekend (Sat and Sun).
In truth, it is the big wave classic that is all our minds now. The forecast suggests it will be pumping, they have spotters on each headland with bino’s looking for rogue waves and relaying info to the beach !!!. Team GB are still in the hunt for a boat… but general Kiwi reaction is that there’s no way you guy’s are travelling this far and not entering The Phia big wave Classic….
BBQ and presentations tonight.
Team GB take third.
It has been great to be out here representing SLSGB. It has provided us with good contacts and has opened other doors to the team. Such as Jules, our spare Bowman, who has entered beach events which has enabled GB to enter the taplin, beach relay etc. A bowman’s work is never done….