Ardersier to Nairn
Last year was the first time the then “Moray Firth Sea Kayak Challenge” allowed paddleboards to enter, and along with the 3 SUPs, there were 3 proneboarders. This year the event had dropped the “Sea Kayak” part of the title, and along with the increased number of paddleboards, (as well as 4 prone boarders – Amy, James, Lindsay, and me), there were many other craft including an ocean canoe, a double kayak, and even a treble!!
With a total of 55 paddlers entered, there was a real buzz before the briefing. The sea kayaks and paddleboards would be starting at 11.30, the performance kayaks would go at midday, and 30 minutes later, the surf skis would start.
The course took us from Arderseir to Nairn, a distance of just over 16km.
Lindsay’s and Amy’s previous longest paddle had been 10k, so as I needed a sighted guide, and the girls were really going to be pushed, we agreed that we would paddle the course as a threesome, and not race it. We’d just enjoy the experience. James, however, was most definitely racing!
As the horn blew, and the water went wild, the first group of paddlers took off.
For the first 1.5km, we had a side wind and chop coming from the north, (our left). This meant that we decided to save the kneeling for later, as it was too early to take a swim.
As we rounded the corner and passed Fort George, we now had the wind and current behind us, and we could now settle into a steady pace.
Using the Milo comms, Amy and Lindsay were able to guide me around the bed, past the rocks.
Although Amy is fairly new to prone boarding, she is a lifeguard, and her knowledge on the water was fantastic. She was able to look ahead, and spot were the current was moving fastest, and then guide us on to this.
Lindsay was also great at keeping an eye on me, and as she was travelling at the front of our group, she was able to spot the shallow water, and guide us all around it.
Although we weren’t “racing” the event, we still set a respectable pace, but also enjoyed our surroundings. At one point we were joined by a group of seals, who, (the girls told me), seemed to enjoy playing in my wake. (I think that means that I was probably the messiest paddler, creating waves for them to play in.)
Halfway through the course, we started to be passed by the performance kayakers, and towards the end, we saw the surf ski’s, seemingly putting very little effort in, but flying past at speed!
We crossed the finish line, for the 2nd time, (we thought we’d finished, then realised there was a sand bar to cross before putting in again for the last 50m), with a time of 2 hours and 36 minutes. Well done, and thank you Amy and Lindsay, you did an awesome job! James had finished the 16.5K course 16 minutes ahead of us. Well done mate!
The event was brilliant!! Meeting old friends from last year and making new ones from this year, along with family members who came along to support our wee group.
I would like to say a massive THANKS to the organisers and volunteers who made the Moray Firth Challenge possible.
Hopefully see you all again next year, and who knows, there may be even more proners in 2024!!
On a side note, James and I had already proned from Clachmaharry to Ardersier, in June of 2022, and then paddled from Nairn to Findhorn in July, (Moray Firth Sea Kayak Challenge 2023), Today’s paddle joined those 2 paddles up. So James, where next?