July 23, 2013
by Peter Petersen

Saffas On Maui: Peter Petersen’s Maliko Recap

Boss Man’s note: Team Saffa have been camped out on Maui the past few weeks for “Downwind Month” where they’ve been enjoying endless glides and plenty of racing. Last weekend it was the Maui Paddle Champs, and our South Africa go-to man Peter Petersen was determined to put in a solid effort: Goal#1… Beat his buddy’s race time from last year. Goal #2… Not be beaten by a chick. Goal #3… Be the fastest Saffa in the race. Keep reading to see how our fearless correspondent fared.

Maui Paddleboard Championship 2013 – 9.5miles (16km) of Maliko heaven was on the menu for today’s race.

Early morning there was a high cloud cover and a lot less wind than the previous couple of days where the Maliko has been firing 10 out of 10. Wind was also a lot more North which makes second half a bit slower as wind decreases and you have a lot more backwash.

However, during the registration, the skies cleared up and the wind started to look a lot better which got everyone very excited indeed.

This year the organisers decided to start outside the gulch which meant a 15-20 minute into the wind paddle to stay upwind of the start boat. With 2-3minutes to go for the planned 1 o’clock start it was clear that half the field were already hovering on the line and as such were at risk of disqualification. Thankfully for them the starter sounded his horn and let the field go. What an experience to set off with 150+ paddlers in near perfect downwind conditions. You had runs from the get go – 15-20knots which is just enough to produce decent runners and everyone was off like scared cats. Most scared was Connor whom I lost sight off within minutes. I had all sorts paddlers around me – young , old, male, female, long boards, shorter boards, rudders, fixed fins – and at first I was catching a couple in front of me while others slowly but surely dropped me as well. I had no idea where Team Saffa were as there were so many paddlers all around.

Got stuck into a nice dice with a guy on 17’ Bullet and a 14’ Javelin, both would come gliding past me and I’d return the favours seconds later. When the Bullet-dude fell about half-way I thought I could pounce but he was right up and next to me in no time. The front guys at first didn’t seem to be pulling away too rapidly at first, but by halfway they were gone, literally out of sight……slightly demoralising and your start wondering how many of them were also on 14’s because those Unlimited boards just fly.

I had a couple of goals before this race: 1) I wanted to beat Francois Fricks (RSA) time of 1.33 from last year, 2) It would be nice to be fastest Saffa and I didn’t want to be beaten by a chick…..

Well, as we all know, if you don’t reach your goals, then just change them real quick…

Beating Frikkies time looked almost too easy as they moved the start out of the gulch probably saving 3-5minutes + it was more windy this year. My time was 1.25 so first goal achieved. … 2nd goal was a lot tougher as these chicks are tough as nails and the fastest chick came in 1.11 – Andrea(s) Moeller…..weapon of note, so the goal was quickly adjusted to: “Not be beaten by chick on 14’… But event this goal was nearly missed as well – thankfully I managed to get in 2 minutes before Angela Jackson from Australia who was fastest chick on 14’ – Pietro Muscas only just managed to stick his nose in front of her as well. [EDIT: Looks like Cathy Shipman was 4 minutes ahead of me on a 14 footer… I give up!]

Last goal had been in the bag the entire trip during the past two races and during all our training runs…..so much was my surprise and admiration, when Kimon Dos Santos pulled up next to me about 2/3rds down the course….Faaaaaark, now I’ve really got work and I was feeling poked already. Apparently I was 1km ahead by halfway and as the course started deteriorating Kimon just put down the hammer and kept finding runs. Kimon came in 1.23 and 3rd in the 1-16yo 14’ class and is now the fastest Saffa on the Maliko run! Well done, bru!

I came 3rd in my 45-59yo 14’ class while Pietro came 5th in the same class. Brigette van Ayowegen (announcers spelling) crossed the line in 1.44 to take 2nd in the 30-45you 14”. So the Saffas took 3x podium out of 4 paddlers – not too shabby (but there were 66 podiums on offer out of 140 SUP’s…)

Connor won in 1.02 – which just defies belief in the relatively light conditions. Quite a few of the big guns stayed at home instead focusing on the M2O which is running next weekend. Kai Lenny, Travis Grant and Danny Ching – all of whom must be considered serious contenders for the M2O title chose to rest/train in secret – the rest of us had time of our lives!