What a race! Sprint finish to the final moment. Bruno got this one but I’m sure we will have many more battles for the years to come.
After Molokai I was pretty exhausted from racing every weekend in different parts of the world. Time zones, cars, planes, hotels, Airbnb’s, admin etc etc… all of it takes a toll mentally and physically. So we decided to go home and reset for a few days before flying to Bilbao. There was some consideration about going back to San Sebastián to race, but I decided it would be wise to have a weekend off (otherwise I would have raced 9 weekends in a row).
Flights from Europe to Hawaii took 24+ hours and 12 times zones, which was then followed by the flights home another 24+ hours and 6 time zones. Followed by flights back to Europe a week later which again took 24+ hours. We really do come from the land down under!
Going home was great, i got to unpack my bag for the first time in 5 weeks and there’s something special putting your things back in their place! In the few days that we were in Perth the weather was magical 25 degrees, no wind and arguably better then summer! I was expecting to come home to cold fronts which inevitably hit once we flew out, so that was a bonus. While home I got a few paddles in, tried to get over the jet lag, tested my unlimited and caught up on a bunch of admin that forever piles up.
Getting to Spain on Thursday was always going to be tough. We boarded the flight in good spirits but landed in Barcelona very exhausted. We slept for 12 hours straight from 430pm to 430am at the airport hotel (after telling ourselves we would just nap for 1 hour). I was hoping to race the new 2020 Starboard Sprints for Bilbao but unfortunately Daniel Hasulyo was denied at boarding in Bangkok. This meant that instead of driving to Bilbao Kristi and I could fly, which was a much better option but meant some last minute schedule changes. Once arriving to Bilbao we checked in across the road from the race site, got the board, had a paddle, fought jet lag and thought that if I had to race that day I would have got last?
Saturday rolled around and I felt much better, strong in fact and ready to go. I was comfortable that I would do a good race. Jet lag and travel are hard to gauge sometimes, you make a plan to get to the event early or late and sometimes it works and sometimes it won’t. If the race was earlier it would’ve suited me better as racing at 530pm put me on the start line at 1130pm Perth time. I was certainly in for a fight with my fellow competitors, and both mentally and physically.
I had a fantastic start, however I chose to sit in the pack and wait for the final sprint rather then try and break away early. Watching back there was a lot of things I could’ve done differently but that’s the beauty of hindsight! Not much happens usually in the Bilbao race, we get in a pack then paddle around for 8km before the attacks start and the tempo increases. Bruno and I snuck away with about 1km to go and I took the lead as I wanted to make the race into a top two scenario as there was so many good paddlers like Tituoan, Arthur, Enzo etc on our tail.
This worked and we got away but I went too hard for too long and Bruno played it smart coming over the top of me in the final moments. It didn’t help my cause that I slipped off my shaft when trying to increase speed while in front with 30m to go. This was mainly due to a lactic build up and a bit of sunscreen still on the hands. It doesn’t matter how many races we do, we are continually learning. All in all I am very happy with my performance as it was a strong field of elite men. Bilbao is an amazing set up and event and I always enjoy racing there!
We’ve spent the last 4 nights in our favourite spot in Europe, Hossegor. Eating awesome food and resting. Now we are on the flight to Corfu. Let’s see how this weekend turns out!