Deano's Moloka'i and Oceanpaddler Series Roundup

Friday, 01 June 2012 15:31 | Written by 
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Dean Gardiner Dean Gardiner

Fresh from his win at the Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge on Sunday, I caught up with Dean on his recent fantastic effort in Hawaii:

Dean's 1997 Moloka'i record still stands!

Garth: “Congratulations Dean, what an outstanding achievement! You shot over to Moloka’i at the last minute to get on the start line, and…

Dean: “I’ll have to correct you there – it was ALMOST an outstanding achievement! I was happy with my race. I knew I had to go out reasonably firm, and stay with Clint (Robinson) and Matt Bouman and those guys, and then it was just a matter of hanging on. And I didn’t hang on enough.

“I hadn’t done the work to race over 3 hours. I had done enough to race over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours, but Oscar is just so strong in the 3 hour space. He’s just an animal. I did the best race I possibly could with everything I had done prior to the race, so I am pretty happy with that!”

Oscar Chalupsky Dean Gardiner

Molokai 2012: Oscar Chalupsky hunting down Dean Gardiner as the paddlers approach Oahu

In the beginning...

Garth: “At the start of the race, when Pat (Dolan) took off and headed straight South, did you question this, or wonder what did he know that you didn't?”

Dean: “We were all sort of together except for Pat. I didn't see Oscar till the end of the race, but there was Bruce (Taylor), Clint (Robinson), Marty (Kenny), the double (Greg Barton and Zsolt Svadovski) and Matt Bouman. A couple of boat washes were getting in our way, so I sort of ducked to the north, making a decision to move away from the boat, to get out in my own water, and that started paying off. I started linking a few (runs) together. It was a really funny race this year: there were some really really good sections, and some really really bad sections. It wasn't a consistent downwind. There were absolutely NO whitecaps. Whenever it got good, I would scoot away from the double, but when it got flat, the double would just pass me again. I played cat and mouse with them the whole way across."

Garth: “With all the support boat washes everywhere, it must be hard to enforce any rules around wash riding?”

Dean: “Well, it doesn't really help in those conditions. That’s the reason I moved away from the boats. I was yelling out at them…It was just painful. In the end, I thought I chose a pretty good line, because everyone sort of followed me after that.”

1 hour to go, and looking good!

Garth: “With an hour to go, it looked like you had the race stitched up?”

Dean: “I felt really good. The runs were really good at the end, and I caught up to the double again. Clint was on my left, and I could see him dropping back, so everything was sort of working for me. That lasted right up till about 30mins to go, and then Oscar started catching me, and the runs just disappeared! Till before the point there was nothing for 3 of 4 km!”

Molokai 2012

Molokai 2012: Clint Robinson (L), Oscar Chalupsky and Dean Gardiner (R) at China Wall, 2km to go

Garth: “There’s that classic photo of the approach to Coco Head, with Clint (Robinson) on your left, you on the right and Oscar in the middle about 20m ahead. You were right up against the wall – I imagine you were looking for a wave against the wall?”

Dean: “Yeah – you actually get a little wave off that wall - I actually missed the first wave that Oscar got which was a bit of a bummer. I don’t know if things would have played out too much differently, because I was pretty stuffed by then. (Chuckles) Then me and Clint sort of missed the waves, because there was nothing when we went through, but Matt Bouman got some really good ones behind us!

Almost half way through the Oceanpaddler Series for 2012

Garth: “I get the sense that the whole Ocean Paddler World Series has changed gears as a result of the Moloka’i. There was just such a buzz created in the online paddling community. I was sitting here in Melbourne in a project meeting for the last hour of the race, with my iPad under the table, logged into Facebook watching the live interactive commentary. There seems to be a renewed vigor with a bunch of the Melbourne boys keen to get on the start line for the Moloka’i next year, and to some of the World Cup races for the latter half of this year. In general, how is the Ocean Paddler World Series going?"

Dean: “I think it’s going very well! It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next year: the ICF want to do something, the obvious thing would be to work together. Whether their plans are the same as ours I am not really sure, but there are a lot of people who are anti the ICF idea, and then there are also a lot of people who have not been paddling for very long who are supportive of the ICF. When you talk to most of the guys who have been around for a while, they don’t want ICF involvement, because they are worried about how much this will restrict the actual events. This is something to be conscious of, but in saying that I think there is a good opportunity, if they are involved, to take a little bit of a backseat for a while and see how things go, and follow the trends of the sport over the last few years, with good solid events.”  [Editor: for some info on the recently announced ICF Ocean Paddling World Championships, click here]

Strength in Numbers

Garth: “How many competitors have we got in the series at this point?”

Dean: “Getting up to eight or nine hundred now. We haven’t gone to Mauritius yet, and we’ll see a whole bunch of South Africans competing there. Then there are a whole bunch of European races in the second half of the year, and then the USA, so that will jump it up again. Then there’s Tahiti aswell…”

Garth: “I’ll be there in Tahiti in September Dean – I’m really looking forward to it!”

Dean: “Yeah, I like Tahiti, its one of my favorite places to race. So we will probably have fifteen to seventeen hundred people that will have competed in the series this year!”

Garth: “You’re in seventh place currently Dean. No doubt you will sneak a few more races across the line before the end of the year, including Mauritius. No plans to head to South Africa for the final?”

Dean: “This is a really busy time for us, and an unfortunate time to run a race in South Africa, being that it’s further away from the Hong Kong race now, and it’s really hard to try and combine those two races. It’s really difficult for Australians to fly to South Africa in December.”

Garth: “December is a busy time in South Africa – there are three epic races around that time with the Cape Point Challenge, the Port Elizabeth to East London, and now the Cape Town World Cup, which replaces the Cape Point Challenge in the series, right?”

Dean: “The whole idea is to set up races that a lot of people want to do, and while the first two are great races and pretty unique, the PE-East London is just too tough an event, and even the Cape Point, if this was one way and it was all down wind, sure it’s a no-brainer, but in a strong SW, 25km’s into a headwind (before the downwind section) is quite tough, you know.”  [Editor: The inaugural Cape Town World Cup is scheduled to run from Buffels Bay to Cape Point - approx 4km into wind - and then 22km straight downwind to Fish Hoek with the Southeaster]

Oceanpaddler World Series

With the latest Oceanpaddler Series 2012 results just published on the website, I am anguished that my series placing has slipped from 23rd to 35th as a result not being on the start line of the last few World Cup races, and quite frankly bummed out that this will keep going down until my next race in Tahiti in Sept. Don't laugh - I know that most of you reading this have considered selling your car to get on a plane to one of these races! Once the bug has bitten, the sting lasts long.

We wish Dean all the best of luck in Mauritius later this month, with the remaining Oceanpaddler World Series 2012.

Dean is planning on running an Oceanpaddler coaching clinic in Melbourne in the next few months – watch this space!

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