90 Mile IRB Challenge - 23rd Sep 2015

90 Mile IRB Challenge

Recently club members Niam Chronican, Jake Woodhouse and Adam Harvey (Judo) took on the imfamous 90 Mile IRB Challenge, read a little about their adventure from Niam.

"After much anticipation we were finally on our way to Ahipara. Thanks to our associates down the beach, we had our boat shipped up and had stuffed our rental truck to the brim with gear. We checked-in with the race officials the night before the race to get some information and draw our lane number for the race start. We were absolutely stoked drawing lane number 4, which means we only had to cut off 3 boats to get in the lead HAH.

The next day after the race briefing at 7:30am, we found out the start time had been changed an hour and a half to 12:00pm, because of challenging surf conditions…WOOHOO!

Neither Jake, Judo or myself were particularly worried about how big the surf was going to be, but what we didn’t realize was how unreasonably crippled we were about to become after the race.
We had just over an hours drive to the start line, so plenty of time to do a little sight seeing to Cape Reinga. Once we got to the start line we realized why they say you need a 4WD after driving down a river to get to the beach.

A huge turn out of 43 boats meant there were people everywhere pumping up boats, but thanks to Jake we had our own portable compressor! The surf was big and messy, and I think once we got to the line a few nerves started to kick in.

12:15pm and the race kicked off. The race is run with four challenges along the way, but the first was going around an island 1.5km out to sea, so due to large swells this was changed. We had to drive 3km down the beach, go around a safety boat then 3km back, around another safety boat then continue. This part was a lot of fun and quite dodgy as there were boats EVERYWHERE, let alone having to negotiate some large, messy surf. We also had to stop in at shore once we got going again to pick up the first of four tags.

The second leg after about a 20km drive was carrying the boat over the spit, and refueling along the way. Our team was already knackered by this stage so picking the boat up was a huge battle, but after a large amount of swearing and a fair few rest breaks we got there… ahead of St Kilda.

For the third leg of the race we had to drive about 30km to a 2km hill run. We had decided before the race that Judo and Niam would be running up the hill to collect the tag while Jake waited with the boat. The run was extremely difficult and I think we both found our legs didn’t want to work very well but we didn’t stop the whole way. Once we were back at the boat, Jake the absolute legend had refueled our fuel bladder by himself (no support help allowed) so this saved us some time!

The fourth and final stage after many more km’s of driving was to take the motor off the boat and carry it up the beach, around a flag and back. This I think was quite possibly the hardest stage as after holding onto boat handles for the last 3 hours, no-ones arms seemed to be working very well. Also, we knew we had been leading all the south island crews by this stage and another crew had a blinder of a transition and took off ahead of us…

Once we got going again, our spirits seemed to be lifted as the surf had cleaned up a bit and we were on the home stretch with the finish line in sight… sort of. It was a lonely drive as we could not see any boats in front or behind us, until, Whats that? YES! A boat leaving shore 2km from the finish. Turns out the South island team that had passed us at the last transition had flipped. All on board our boat were celebrating as we boosted our way to the finish line.

Ending up 21st out of 43 we were very happy with our efforts. We had no trouble with gear, managed to keep the boat facing the right way up the whole race and had beaten the clubs we wanted to… it is a race after all.

From what we had heard about the race before going, it was apparent that it is very rough on gear, especially when the surf is big. We were running on very shallow water for most of the race, going too shallow on a number of occasions, which is not the best for propellers and propeller guards, but we were amazed to find there was hardly a scratch on the motor after the race. Great news for the club too!

I think it is fair to say we all went through some stressful times during the race and have never been more relieved for a race to be over, but we were most definitely high on life afterwards and the boys would agree that a Speights has never tasted better! We all learnt A LOT, which is going to speed up our time a huge amount next time we make it to the 90 Mile!... next year.

A big thanks to the club for allowing us to use the gear and especially Mace for helping with the gear pack up."

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