With the third week of the Shaw and Partners Paddle of Aus. wrapped up, we take a deeper dive into the week gone by.
“Day 15 was massive, paddling the huge 122k stretch between port Hacking and Jervis Bay. Once again setting a new distance PB! With plenty of swell around I was able to catch some epic runners but eventually the excitement of another long day on the water began to fade and I fell into a dark place between 80k-100k where it felt like everything had switched off and I had to trust that all my instinct, knowledge and experience would be enough to get me through!
Completing this section of the paddle has instilled the confidence in me, that will be much needed leading into some of the longer and more remote stretches of coast that lay ahead. In the end it was a lovely conclusion to a huge day, paddling past the beautiful cliff faces of Jervis Bay!”
“Day 16 was a tough day physically and mentally, paddling 87k today from Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay after paddling 122k on day 15, there was no way around it! It was always going to be hard.
Normally after such a huge paddle you would allow for time to recover but this type of paddling requires me to go against a lot of what I know as an athlete in regard to recovery and tapering. It has become increasingly important to make the most of favourable weather windows, this means I will need to become more accustomed to doing 80k-100k+ days back-to-back.
Another challenge has been making sure I am eating enough calories to ensure I am properly fuelled for these long days. On day 15 I was in a calorie deficit and had to eat more on day 16 to make up for that! Finished up the day in Batemans Bay and was looking forward to the next day’s paddle.
“Day 17 took me the 80K from Batemans Bay to Bermagui, where on arrival we were presented with breaking waves in the river mouth, and after one failed entry attempt where the bot had to turn back (later known as the “Bermagui U-ey” the support boat was able to get in to the harbour! It was on this leg of the journey that I began wearing my Vaikobi thermals to keep me warm, I hadn’t planned to wear these until crossing the Great Australian Bight, but the water temperature since passing south of Sydney had dropped dramatically in what seemed like the space of only a few days and they’ve been really good at keeping me nice and warm even in strong winds and cold water.”
“Day 18 felt like I was running up mountains all day, the wind was blowing straight into my face coming from the south. It’s days like these that build character! The days where it feels as though you’re dragging a car around block after block – over and over and over again. Where you prepare yourself for the tough times is where the building blocks hold strong for the next leg, for me that was the next 240k to Lakes Entrance!”
Over the course of 48 hours, I paddled from Eden on the south coast of New South Wales to Lakes entrance in Victoria.
The first stretch from Eden to Point Hicks held some of the wildest weather I’ve encountered, with winds of up to 85kph paired with a sizeable swell, I was able to catch some of the biggest runners of my life!
It really felt like I was in nature’s playground. With winds whipping around me and rain pouring for much of the day the conditions were less than ideal for the support boat, with most other boats opting to stay in harbour and wait for a weather window. Despite the sheer ferocity of the conditions around me, I was able to really enjoy myself in this extreme environment and finish the day strong at Point Hicks.
Here I was able to climb onto the support boat. The boat was somewhat protected from the weather by the point. So, I did my best to try to sleep and prepare myself for the rest of this 240k.
The next morning setting off from Point Hicks I was extremely sore and tired and had been struggling to keep food down. Knowing that I was coming up to a rest day at Lakes Entrance, kept me going, my back was seizing up, causing me extreme discomfort but I was intent on finishing the day in Lakes Entrance to allow for a full day of rest the following day.
This lead to me finishing up the last few hours of the day paddling at night coming in to the entrance having paddled 28 hours and completing 240 kilometres in under 48 hours.
This experience was challenging and although only a taste of challenges to come it was my proudest moment yet, coming into Lakes Entrance knowing what I had just accomplished!
Day 21 was a rest day and after finishing the previous day paddling late into the night, I enjoyed a well-deserved sleep in until after 10am! We were lucky enough to get chatting with the owners of the Bamboo motor inn who let us use their facilities so that I and the team could enjoy beautiful hot showers, a luxury we lack on the boat. It was great to have a day to reset the body and begin preparing to start paddling again.
“One of the biggest challenges of week three was paddling 28 hours over the space of only two days going from Eden on the NSW South Coast to Lakes Entrance in Victoria. Due to the number of hours needed to paddle, I had to paddle in the dark and in conditions which I previously would never have considered paddling in. Whilst this was extremely physically demanding the sense of accomplishment, I gained from completing this section of the paddle made it all worthwhile!”
“I’m looking forward to rounding Wilsons’s promontory and the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, from this point on I will no longer be paddling South I will be paddling West. I am also looking forward to paddling past the Apostles and the Great Ocean Road as I get further along the Victorian coast.”
-Compiled and edited by Ben Lavery for paddleofaus.com