Colwyn Bay TT – Last of the Season
We’ve been a bit unlucky this year with the Colwyn Bay Time Trial Series. The regular storms that always seem to have coincided with a weekend have meant that one or two of the planned races had to be first post-poned and then cancelled. To be honest I was kind of glad when they were as if they had been going ahead I may have been tempted to head up North for the race. I don’t mind paddling in the wind and rain but getting my boat onto and off the roof of the van and then driving with it on the roof in stormy weather isn’t that much fun!
As it was, the final race of the season was planned for the weekend. I’d missed the first race of the season for some reason (a Cyclocross race maybe?). I’d been there for races 2 and 3 but had missed race 4 due to the weather. With 4 races to count I wasn’t going to be challenging for the overall series places as I’d only complete 3 races but it would be a nice day out on the water anyway.
As the weekend approached, the wind looked to be something of a feature again. I therefore loaded my ski onto the roof on Saturday before the wind got up and then drove carefully through the blustery valleys and mountain passes of North Wales to arrive at a sunny but windy Colwyn Bay. The sea looked quite flat but I knew that wouldn’t be the case further out and that the cross-offshore wind would only get stronger the further from the shore we were.
Soon the usual suspects started to arrive. Martin who organises it was there, as were Mark, Richard, Ben, James, James, Helen and Chris. Not a massive field but enough to keep things competitive. The series has been sponsored by Think Kayaks and Stellar and it looks as though their sponsorship of such events might be paying off as there was a good selection of both Stellar and Think kayaks on the start line.
As the wind was so strong and offshore a change was made to the usual plan. Instead of heading out to the Rhosneigr Buoy we would instead stay closer to shore (I think Richard may have missed this part of the plan!). We would follow the beach around to the harbour at Rhos-on-Sea and then head back to the beach where Petr was keeping time.
A handicap was decided upon and Helen set off first. I can’t remember the exact order after that but soon Ben, Chris, Richard and James were in hot pursuit followed by Martin, Mark and myself. James (who is much faster than all of use) brought up the rear. I stayed with Mark at a steady pace all the way to the harbour. this was my first paddle of the year so didn’t know how I’d go and didn’t want to go too hard. Mark and I rounded the boat that was being used as the turning point together and then started to head back.
As we headed out of the harbour the wind was increasing and blowing onto our right hand sides. I decided to drop back behind Mark so that I could turn towards the shore and head into the wind for a bit. mark stayed out a little further. My hope was that I’d head into the wind whilst still a little sheltered and would then turn left and have a nice downwind run back to the beach. In one respect it didn’t work as the downwind fun never happened. The wind always had some offshore element to it so was always from the side. It did pay off though as I was soon closer to the beach and therefore more sheltered so had less wind to contend with. Mark on the other hand stayed out a little further and always had a strong sidewind to contend with as well as a strong headwind once he did turn towards the beach. I might not have had a fun downwind run but I did pull out a bit of a lead over Mark and caught some of the others in the process too.
Back at the beach we were watching for the others and noticed that Richard had pretty much gone off on a downwind run from the harbour. He was now quite a way out and would have a viscous headwind to battle against. James had gone with him to make sure he was OK and they both battled back to the beach. The fact that they were 10 minutes behind everyone else made it clear that it wasn’t the best option. We all made it back safely though and waited on the beach for the next round.
The format was the same, as were the handicaps so off we headed for an action replay. This time I messed up the turn around the boat and dropped back a few boat lengths from Mark. Everyone stayed closer to the beach on the way back so there was no advantage to be gained there either. I did catch Mark back up but only just and he still landed on the beach a few seconds ahead of me. Not my best of races but still OK.
We packed up and headed off for some coffee and cakes at the café. Martin gave out prizes for the races today and the overall series winners, including a nice ‘T’-shirt for me, and that was it for another year. Colwyn Bay Blast will be the next race here and then we’ll have to wait until next year to do it all over again.