King and Queen of Invy – putting the adventure in adventure racing

A couple of weekends ago was the King and Queen of Inverloch (Invy) event. It was a 12km ocean paddle, 10km beach run and 1.2km ocean swim. If you competed in all three you were in the running to be crowned King or Queen of Invy.

Unfortunately I was recovering from a calf strain so couldn’t do the run (especially as a lot of it was on sand!) and I am not ready to swim that far! But the paddle I could do! Especially as it was in the inlet. In the safe, calm waters of the inlet.

Of course Mother Nature decided to turn the safe, calm waters of the inlet into a raging ocean just for us! The 12km paddle was shortened to a 5km for all the females.

I had trouble getting off the beach to start with as I was getting hammered by the waves slamming into the boat. I did notice at this point that my steering wasn’t as responsive as it normally is but managed to get away and started to chase my mate Rach. A lot of people didn’t get away at all and just kept getting blown back onto the beach.

We both managed to make it halfway, to the buoy 2.5km offshore. But as Rach turned around she ended up way off to the right instead of heading straight. I called out to her but as I came around the buoy myself, I ended up near her as well. Then I realised that my rudder really wasn’t working. I hopped out of the boat and straightened myself up and tried again…but it still wasn’t working. One of the surf life saving club rubber duckies pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted to get rescued but I said no because I just wanted to keep going. I’d done all the hard work paddling into the waves and the wind and was supposed to be cruising back! But apparently the conditions were so rough the rudder wasn’t coping so they pulled me on board and towed my boat. By then Rach was waving her paddle around and so we headed over to her. She was a bit more stubborn than me and refused to be rescued and just asked to be turned around. The guys said to her “alright, but we don’t want to be coming back to rescue you again”.

I got transferred to a bigger boat and they laid my boat horizontally across the back of their boat. I said to them we should keep an eye on Rach as she was having problems too. Just as I said that, Rach got blown over and her boat flipped into the water. So we headed over and picked her up to. They laid her boat horizontally at the front of their boat. We both shivered all the way back to the beach. Only we didn’t make it all the way to the beach as our rescuers decided it was too shallow so we had to find another way in. Back out we went, back out into the waves and the wind. Oh the WIND!! By now we were getting really cold and were shivering uncontrollably. We were hitting big waves which were crashing down on us – not fun! Then the fun really started. We hit a really big wave and Rach’s boat which was sitting up the front lifted up in the air and flew right over the top of our heads and crashed into the ocean behind us. Scary stuff. We both looked at each other and didn’t know whether to burst into tears or laughter.

We doubled back and went and picked up the boat. Rach told the guy to empty it first but he said “nah she’ll be right”. So he grabbed it by the handle and the handle snapped off because it was too heavy…because it was full of water. Eventually she communicated to him that he had to empty it and he commented it was much easier to lift into the boat. Men!!

Of course the boats belonged to our coach Liam and were brand spanking new. Grrr.

The guys found a way back to the beach and gave us blankets as we were freezing. So we arrive back on the beach in an SES boat, huddled in blankets. Quite the dramatic entrance. Liam told us we could still race to the finish line so we jumped up and pushed and shoved each other out of the way as we raced up the beach. I like to think I won but we both got the exact same time.

A real adventure. While the first 2.5kms were tough, once I got my confidence up going up and down the waves was unreal fun. All I could think of was ‘how awesome is THIS’. But in all seriousness, thanks to our rescuers! We didn’t get a chance to thank them properly in our rush for the finish line.

All in all, a great weekend. Especially as Rach ended up coming 3rd in the Queen of Invy!

Rach, Jo and I before the race!

– Jen

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