Commonwealth Bank Bridge the Bank - 16th September 2012
The inaugural Bridge the Bank Teams Challenge took place on Sunday 16th September under blue skies and a slight tail wind. As competitors gathered under the Narrows Bridge with the scenic Perth foreshore and skyline as a backdrop, the day was shaping up to be a good one. Upon sign up competitors were handed their goodie bag which was full courtesy of race and SUP WA sponsor the Commonwealth bank. The briefing took place with a fairly straight forward course of 8km from the Narrows Bridge to Point Walter for the first paddler and 5km from Point Walter to the Stirling Bridge for team member number two, laid out.
As bodies gathered on the water paddlers were set off in three waves, three minutes apart. First up was the 12'6's, followed by 14' and bringing home the fleet the unlimited boards. The 12'6 class got off to a flying start with Ben Tardrew and Cameron McKay battling it out all the way to the changeover. However, it was Marcus Tardrew and Dale Chapman in the 14' class that managed to overtake the entire fleet and be the first to the bank and set their team mates off on the second leg.
It was a great site for all paddlers upon reaching the bank as there was a large crowd who had gathered to cheer them on through the changeover gate. As the remainder of the paddlers filtered into the bank there was nothing but smiles all round and while some decided to continue on and paddle the second leg with their partner, others decided it was time for a breather as the pace was hot.
The pace backed off for many in the second leg as many of the ladies who had previously been sidelined while husbands played got to show their stuff. For many this was their first race and accompanied by their friends, partners and children eased the pain somewhat, although the boat wake in places didn't help the cause.
Out in front it was Michelle England, who was set up by a great first leg by partner Dale Chapman, on a 14 Starboard Ace that lead for most of the way, however when Kevin Kemp-Smith riding a 12'6 Starboard BOP saw an opportunity to overtake by maximizing some boat wake he didn't look back and held onto his lead until the end.
Another standout performer was Ashlea Hammil on a DC 12'6 who, as announced at presentations "had her hands strapped like a boxer", powered home to take the win in the mixed category once the handicap had been applied.
Just as paddlers were coming into the bank with smiles on their faces, as did all who crossed the line at the Stirling Bridge. Paddlers filtered in with some having proven something to themselves others who got out and enjoyed their first race, while the 'serious' racers all stayed to cheer everyone across the finish line.
It was then up to the Tradewinds Hotel for presentations and food. With the temperature reaching the 30' mark there were plenty of people rehydrating with some of the finest on offer and some still rehydrating almost 6 hours after the race had finished! As the emphasis for the Bridge the Bank was fun and to get as many people involved as possible the focus for prize giving was on lucky door prizes. With over $1500 in cash and prizes to give away thanks to race sponsors everyone was in with a chance to walk away with something.
The Bridge the Bank turned out to be the biggest race (participant wise) in WA with 50 competitors, yet another first for SUP WA with everyone enjoying themselves. A big thank you must go out to all our sponsors for the day Commonwealth Bank, SOS Surf Shop, Morrison Clothing and the Tradewinds Hotel for providing such wonderful prizes, also to the SUP WA committee for organising yet another fantastic day. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.