During our previous couple of paddles together, Rob and I had been talking about doing this race. And so on the August Bank Holiday weekend we both travelled north to Oban for the forth Oban Sea kayak Race. It is said by some that the Oban Sea Kayak Race is 20km of sheer fun! If gritting your teeth and paddling flat out for two or so hours around the Island of Kerrera is your thing, then you need to come and do this race!
Long before the race both Rob and I had been looking at the Oban Sea Kayak Race website at the 2012 results and we had both started to become a little concerned at some of the “Names” we recognised and the respective times recorded. I think I’d decided that I’d probably be looking at fininishing somewhere around 02:40 (being optimistic), and if I could beat 02:30 then I’d be really happy. Rob said he was thinking if he could break three hours then he’d be happy.
On the morning as people and boats arrived at the Kilbowie Outdoor centre, our optimism certainly took a nose dive. There were certainly some very accomplished paddlers taking part. I helped a couple of guys carry their double kayak down to the waters edge. It was a big and very heavy boat and I soon found out these two blokes had just completed the first kayak crossing of the North Sea from Shetland to Norway 388Km. The boat still had its customs stickers on it from having recently ben shipped back to the UK. I then found the reason for it’s size; the kayak had an extra 9 inches in height, so they could pull themselves down inside the cockpits and attempt to sleep! Although from what I gather there wasn’t much sleep had during the 62 hour crossing in force 4-6 winds!
Then I met a really friendly couple, originally from Czechoslovakia and now living in London, Natalie Maderova and her husband Michal Madera. Whilst chatting with Natalie, she told me they’d paddled around the UK in 2012! A fantastic achievement which has only been done by a very few kayakers. Details of their adventure can be found on their website.
Throughout the morning scrutinising took place as more and more boats arrived. By the time the race arrived I think there were around 85 entries.
Eventually, we assembled on the water, before paddling in procession into Oban harbour.
A cruise liner was helpfully on hand to see us off!
Pre match photos were taken – Inverness or Nairn CC? And then there was a mass start and we were off. The map below tracks my progress around Kerrera. After about a mile I found myself following a chap in front of me, and whatever I did, I could not quite catch him. It was like this all the way round. Unfortunately, we were stopped by the Mull Ferry coming into Harbour, and we had a few minutes rest before commencing battle to the finish line. I once again, still found myself following the same chap.
Rob looking pleased with himself
After some chips from an Oban habour chippy. Rob and I, being the serious athletes that we are, paddled back to Kilbowie for burgers and beer!
Prizes were distributed and the burgers and beers were consumed in the evening sun
And our times… Well, I managed a 2:19 (4th in the Touring Senior) and Rob a 2:44. We were both really pleased. And knackered!
Many thanks to Gus Brydon and all his helpers at Oban Sea kayak Race. What a great event!
We’ll be back!