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Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race & BBQ

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Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race 2014

Hilbre Race StartThis was the forth year that Liverpool Canoe Club has run the Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race and this year saw the biggest turn out yet with 57 competitors.   This year we introduced a short junior race to West Kirkby (4km) and returning to our host Dee Sailing Club at Thurstaston Country Park. This proved a great success with both Isaac (aged 10) and Rhys (aged 12) both returning just before the winners of both the Little Eye and main Hilbre Island race.

Most competitors arrived for 10:30am and were directed to car parking spaces above the slipway and in the dinghy park of Dee Sailing Club. The members of the sailing club were most welcoming again this year opening their club house and bar to the competitors. They helped with launching and recovery of the rescue boats and even provided a fantastic BBQ for all at the end of the race.

Competitors had all pre-registered online before the event and handed over declarations forms in exchange for a bib or numbered buoyancy aid. At the race briefing it was explained that we would have a mass "Le Mans" Style start from the start line on the beach. We seeded the faster kayaks and skis to one end of the start line this year. Following feedback from the competitors last year the finish was to be on the water, a line between a buoy and metal shed at the bottom of the slipway. We had 7 safety kayaks following the race and stationed off both islands. These all wore yellow safety kayak bibs and carried VHF radios. The main race was also shadowed by the safety RHIB.

Hilbre Island RaceWith the competitors lined up on the start line, Fiona Barry our Chair of the club, started the race with a loud blast from an air horn at noon midday. Some of the faster competitors ran to the waters edge carrying their boats and entered the water, fixing spraydecks and speeding off in the direction of the mouth of the estuary. Other took more care launching while some of the heavier boats received help from spectators to be carried to the water. Click here for a movie of the mass start…….

All three races followed the same course around the corner heading offshore of the first island, Little Eye. After about 2km the two juniors headed closer inshore towards their blue turn buoy stationed just before the slipway at West Kirby. The rest of the fleet had to negotiate their first obstacle, the small flotilla of sailing dinghy's from West Kirby Sailing Club who were racing around their own course just off the marine lake. The racing kayakers had been reminded that "power gives way to sail" and to try to go around the back of any dinghies crossing their path.GBR C2 WWR

After another couple of kilometres the first of the Little Eye competitors were checked by John Worswick, one of our safety kayakers before turning back towards Thurstaton point and the finish line. Hilbre Island paddlers had kept on going past both Little Eye and Middle Eye before reaching the sandstone cliffs of Hilbre Island. The now stiff Northerly breeze meant the paddlers were still in largely sheltered water but as they approached the Northern End of Hilbre the tide and swell was kicking up some large breaking waves in the overfalls. Some of the paddlers struggled a little, with the skis finding the conditions a little challenging. Watched by the team of safety kayakers (Ian, Dan and Adrian) along with one of the rescue boats most managed to make the turn in the rough water and paddle back down the inside of the Island.

The increasing wind had slowed paddlers on the outward journey but now with the wind behind them the route back was far easier. We did have Dave Bradburn & Brian McNulty, GBR C2 team entered this year. The high rear flared wing of their whitewater racing C2 certainly gave them a few taxing problems on the return.

High Water at Hilbre was 45 mins after the start so later paddlers would have to punch the tide in both directions. Certainly the stiff breeze and difficult conditions led to slightly slower times this year. As the three island were all in a line it was not until they passed the Marine Lake breakwater that they were able to make out the rounded lump with small rocky outcrop that was to be the Little Eye. From here it was a dash around the headland to Dee Sailing club.

Full list of all results and times......

 Hilbre Race (13km)  Little Eye Race (9km) West Kirby Race (4km)
 1st Elite Ski  Ian Tordoff  1st Kayak  Julia Kay  1st Kayak  Isaac Pipe
 1st Sea Kayak  Colin Smith  1st Lady  Jane Parker  2nd Kayak  Rhys Legge
 2nd Sea Kayak  David Blake  1st Double  Jake & Peter Massey    
 1st Lady  Kate Duffus  2nd Double  Paul and Harvey Harwood    
 1st Double  Jeff Parker and David Kay  3rd Double  Sarah & Jack Gille    

The elite boats with rudders surfed and sped their way towards the finish. Isaac and Rhys (junior race) were the first to finish just under the hour. Julia Kay, the little eye winner nearly missed the finish line as she had taken a line a little offshore and was heading for Parkgate. She should have known better as she won the Little Eye race last year so had some experience of the finish line. Jane Parker arrived minutes later. Ian Tordoff, paddling a Griffin ski this year, was the first to finish the Elite race around Hilbre. Two more Little Eye finishers, Jane Barns and Craig Ellingham were next before the first Hilbre racing double (Sipre Tsunami) of Jeff Parker and David Kay sliced its way over the finish line. Colin Smith and Dave Blake paddled in the first two production sea kayaks in the main Hilbre race. The finish turned out to be just as exciting as last year with finishers from different races all completing their courses at approximately the same time. This meant hectic work from the race time team led by Sylvia Mould they managed a very accurate set of results.

Ian Tordoff

Colin Smith

Kate Duffus

Junior winner

Ian Tordoff
1st Elite Race - Hilbre Race

Colin Smith
1st Sea Kayak Hilbre Race

Kate Duffus
1st Lady Hilbre Race

Isaac Pipe
1st West Kirby (Junior) Race

BriefingThe competitors were able to use the showers provided by Dee Sailing club and enjoy a cold drink and food from the BBQ while we recovered the rescue craft and the safety kayakers followed the final few finishers in.  Prizes had been kindly donated by Yamba UK, System X and Go Kayaking North West and were awarded for the categories above.  All the winners also received Liverpool Canoe Club branded / embroidered clothing and a trophy engraved by Mike Bell of Cedar Boat Europe.  These were presented to the winners by our club chair, Fiona Barry.

Many thanks to all that took part and helped to make such a great day. 

We hope to see you all again next year, this time in the summer.  Sunday ??? June/July 2015

More information…….

Full Race results……….

More Photographs…….

Supported by Yamba UK, Dee Sailing Club, System X, Go Kayaking NW and Cedar Boats Europe

YambaUK  Dee Sailing Club   System X  Go Kayaking  
Cedar Boats of Europe  

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