It was great to be at the beach for a WATRC ride. Those long, flat soft straights unleashed the speed freaks amomgst our members, and what a lot of you there are !
Of course, riding on sand, one has to be careful. Sudden changes in the firmness of the going can lead to tendon injury, so it was good to see riders taking the firmer going as they stretched their horses out for a canter.
For the photographer, being able to see my subjects coming from hundreds of meters away, and having a wide choice of position and angle was a bonus I rarely get on some of our more confined trails, and I took advantage. Great fun, and I hope you enjoy the images.
It will be wonderful to go back to Manakau next season, and I'm sure we all hope this venue will be included in the calendar. That said, there are a few lessons to be taken out of the event this year that will improve what is already a magnificent ride.
If we have another beach ride that will involve river crossings, we're going to need a few small things:
1. Accurate information about the tides, their timing, and their impact on the course;
2. A technical delegate monitoring each crossing and empowered to make a call in respect of the safety of the crossing
3. An alternative safe route to cross, or an alternative route that allows competitors to complete the course, or a shortened course.
The most frustrating thing for all members was the ultimate cancallation of the ride. One cannot dispute the wisdom of the call - safety was a very real issue.
The timing of high tide, which was published as 12:05 pm in the NZ Almanac and on the MetService website, neant that riders in the Intermediate class, would have been making their final crossing of the Waikawa stream as the tide was starting to ebb, and the flow from the estuary would have been seawards - not a safe option.
As it happened, there was an alternative route (bridge crossing at Waikawa Beach) and potentially alternative options (turn south and do the leg to the Otaki River mouth again) that were not explored on the day. There may well have been others.
Absolutely, this is not an issue of looking for scapegoats - quite simply it's a matter of learning from experience and improving our performance in future.
Think of this as an opportunity, and make something of it.