So now that the World Ocean Racing Champs were behind us, what do you do when you’re hanging out with a bunch of hot surfski paddlers?
Rob Hansen had been pushing the group to do the 30 km paddle from our hotel to the nearby island of Moorea. Rob had stomach issues after the big race, and hadn’t eaten in two days. He had self diagnosed himself with either having appendicitis or a stomach bug. He woke up that morning saying “I think it’s just a bug, I’m feeling 80%, let’s go!!” Typical Rob fashion.
Moorea’s lofty peaks can be seen in the distance from Tahiti. The cloud shrouded peaks give it a mystical appearance. We were going to do what the ancient Tahitians did and paddle from island to island,
except we had GPS, wind guru, etc. The wind was pumping and we were getting great runs. Our team was Daryl, Warren, Rob and our new buddy, Muz, a 62 yo, tough as nails waterman from Australia.
As we progressed we had to keep surfing right so as to not get blown by the island. The runs were awesome, and yips and howls could be heard over the cranking wind. We stopped regularly to re-group for safety. The swells were now house size and it was really easy to get separated. At the half way mark we started to encounter a side swell, at one point I was bombing down a wave and then rose up onto a side swell and was essentially sitting on a ridge with a 5 foot drop on either side.
Everybody took a few swims, occasionally you would blast through a school…or is it a flock, of flying fish.
With 5 km to go I started to feel bad. I hadn’t been fueling properly and it was starting to take a toll. The closer we got to our destination, the messier the water became and the slower I went. Dehydrated, seasick, undernourished, I was really limping.
We finally surfed through the barrier reef entrance and the water flattened out. The guys were great and really helped me out. Once on shore I got some drinks. Despite feeling like crap, I couldn’t help but take in the tropical beauty of this harbour. It was a massive amphitheater with towering peaks and half an extinct volcano crater.
We loitered around the ferry terminal waiting for the next ferry. The trip back to Tahiti was rocking. You could barely walk down the aisle.
When we arrive in Papeete, we then had to paddle the 8 km back to the race athlete center and required getting out of the harbour. Nobody really knew the way, we were all dog tired and nobody wanted to paddle further than required. It was now 5:30 and we had about 30-40 minutes of daylight left. One of the many va’a (OC) paddlers pointed us in the right direction. As we rounded the point which we thought was our destination we realized we had one more bay to go. It was now dark, and we were having to negotiate coral reef. There were red and green markers identifying the deep water channels, but we could barely see from marker to marker.
We finally emerged into our little bay to a 2 foot side chop and from there we surfed into the beach lit by a street light.
I was paddling an Epic V10 Ultra Surfski which provided great stability and surfed like a champ in the heinous conditions. Rob Hansen had switched from his Nelo, to a Think Uno Max and was loving it, Warren was in the Think Ion, and Daryl was untouchable paddling his Evo II.
An epic day.