Colwyn Bay Blast
The third year in a row for me and the 5th Colwyn Bay Blast and it was bigger and better than ever. With 70 paddlers it was the biggest field yet. It was also a Team GB selection race so many of the newcomers were very fast looking indeed having travelled up from Surf Life-saving clubs in Cornwall.
Conditions weren’t looking like the most exciting. Flat water, light offshore winds and drizzle were in the forecast. The drive up was a little wetter than ‘drizzle’ and there was next to no visibility around Blaneau Ffestiniog. Things had improved by the time I reached the prom at Colwyn Bay. It was still overcast and grey and the water was completely flat. Despite getting there early there were already lots of familiar and not so familiar faces around. I had plenty of time to catch up with everyone .
Registration was soon done and dusted and there was little to do other than have a second breakfast, start getting ready and chat to everyone else. The usual dilema over what to wear then ensued. I was going to wear my Scimitar Sports Trisuit so as to be in team colours but with the drizzle it didn’t feel that warm so plumped for a long sleeve thermal top. The team Scimitar colours wouldn’t be seen under my buoyancy aid anyway!
The race itself followed the same format and course as previous years. We did have an additional safety equipment check on the start line but other than than it was business as usual. The rain had returned a little but it wasn’t too heavy and the mild temperatures meant that it wasn’t an issue. If anything it was a perfectly cooling drizzle.
The start was a little more frantic than usual thanks to the number of people on the start line and what felt like a slightly more serious nature to the proceedings.
Up at the pointy end I’m sure the competition was fierce.
Even where I was there was little space given as I tried to weave my way between other boats. I do pretty much all my training on my own and most races I’ve done have either been Time Trials or Quadrathlons so I’m not used to paddling in such close quarters to everyone.
At one point I was sandwiched between two boats and they seemed to be getting ever closer to me. There was a slight clash of paddles once or twice. I’m not really sure what the etiquette is in such circumstances. I had nowhere to go, but either of them could have given me a little space as they didn’t have anyone on their other sides. I guess I should really have just held my ground and sat on the V of their wakes for a bit of a free ride for a while. I felt as though I was going faster then them though (probably due to the free ride I was getting from their wake) so I dropped back out of the way a little and tried to go around them. I did manage to pull up alongside them after having dropped back but then we reached the first buoy and I made a bit of a mess of it. I was forced to go too wide then had to stall so as to avoid hitting the back of someone elses boat and finally came to a complete halt whilst turning. I lost a fair bit of ground so started work on regaining it on the next leg back to the beach. I was gradually closing the gap but gaps close very slowly indeed in this sport. The next turn was much better and I was right on the tail of the couple ahead of me and there was a group of four people (Benjamin, Lizelle and Stephen who I knew and someone else called Giles) just ahead of us. We were keeping them in check whilst racing against each other.
That’s the way things stayed for quite a bit of the race. Around the Rhosneigr buoy and things were still the same. I did just about finally catch the two just ahead of me as we crossed Penrhyn Bay and David and I rounded the buoy of the Little Orme at the same time. Kevin was also right with us still. I put in a bit of a spurt as we started to make our way back to Colwyn bay and edged ahead of them. I also started closing the gap to the other group of four ahead but by now the gap to them was just too large. I thought there might be a chance to close on them as we rounded the Rhosneigr Buoy once more but they were fighting amongst themselves and speeding up for the final leg. I couldn’t tell how big the gap to David and Kevin behind me was so I wanted to keep up a steady pace so as not to blow up so that I could keep them at bay.
Lizelle headed off on a slightly different course across the bay so as to avoid some of the current. Benjamin, Stephen and Giles were too far ahead for me to catch them and probably increasing their lead slightly. They finished a couple of minutes ahead of me in the end. I did at one point think that maybe Lizzelle’s choice had been a bad one as I was closing in on her but once she made a slight change of angle closer to the beach and had little current to contend with she soon pulled ahead again and finished about 45 seconds ahead of me. I did at least keep David and Kevin at bay but only by about 20 seconds.
Phew, that had been quite an effort. Good fun though and with easy conditions it had been a race that relied on fitness as much as technique. I let Anna know that I was off the water via text message and her ‘supportive’ reply was
Did you come last again?
To be fair I did come dead last the first time I attempted this race, and it was an almighty struggle to even come last in a time of 2:03. In my defence, I was in a terrible boat that year and very new to paddling. I wasn’t quite so slow last year in a better boat and finished in the middle of the pack with a time of 1:21. This year everyone’s times seemed a little slower, probably due to the tide. I was therefore a little slower with a time of 1:24:51. I was also a little further down the overall standings, but that was due to the fact that there were quite a few extra people up at the pointy end. Seeing as I have been dead last before it makes more sense for me to see how many people I beat!
- 2017: I beat no one coming last out of 30 finishers
- 2018: I beat 24 people coming 18th out of 42 finishers (Results here)
- 2019: I beat 33 people coming 20th out of 53 finishers (Results here)
I consider that an improvement. Looking at the actual names on the various results sheets shows that I did indeed do a little better than last year. I’ve closed the gap slightly between myself and some of the faster paddlers that I know, and have opened out the gap on some of those behind me. There are even a few names that have beaten me in the past but this year I was ahead of them. I’m pleased with that!
After the Race
After the race I tried out a nice Revo R1 and surprised myself by feeling pretty comfortable in what is an elite boat. It felt and looked very nice too. I think Mark already had his eyes on it though and is likely to buy it before I do! Maybe that’s what I need next so that I can keep improving ready for next years Colwyn Bay Blast!
As usual there were lots of boats to look at and demo from a range of manufacturers. Once we’d all had chance to recover somewhat it was back to the beach for the presentations and lots of prizes for almost everyone thanks to the raffle. I got myself a nice Fluoro paddling cap from Think. I did actually think the other day that I could do with such a cap. I usually just wear a visor but after a paddle in the sunshine and with not as much hair as I used to have I decided that maybe a cap would protect me from the sun a little better. I now have one.
I didn’t hang around long after the presentations as I’ve been away for a few weekends in a row now so wanted to head home to Anna and Morgan. Not that I saw much of Morgan once at home as he was competing on his xBox in the Fortnight World Championships qualifiers and was hoping to win £200… He didn’t!! He had mowed the lawn for me though which was good.
Sorry for the lack of photos but it’s a little difficult to take photos whilst paddling. I’m sure there will be plenty posted though so if there are any of me I’ll add them at a later date. Meanwhile I’d best get training so that I can do it all again next year.