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Downwind in Dahab

5: Competition time

The day of the competition arrived rather quickly, and just as a number of competitors started to suffer from stomach infections. It all started well with a fantastic reception; Niki’s friends had decided to add some extra support and the red team had its own cheerleading team, complete with belly-dancing skirts and pom-poms!

Our first challenge was the kitesurfing, or body dragging (which generally proved the fastest way downwind for all but the really experienced kitesurfers). Having enjoyed our training immensely I was disappointed that only two of our team got to compete due to lack of time, but Adam put on a particularly spectacular display, which left us second on the leaderboard and almost lost his shorts in the process!

Next up, windsurfing… Fortified with a sandwich, we worked out our strategy; myself and Niki felt we were the weakest, and Neal and Adam, as our strongest windsurfers, decided to help us get started, which meant as a team we had one of the fastest getaways. All week I had gone from feeling fairly confident on the board, to falling off and not being able to settle again in the gusty conditions. Adam followed me the whole way across, shouting encouragement the whole way while I just kept thinking ‘feet, shoulders, backside IN!’

It worked and I even negotiated the gybe, growing in confidence as we approached the beach I began to lean back and go for it as a gust hit, finishing with a rather spectacular crash-landing as I grew over-confident and tried a fast second gybe. No matter, there was just a short run to the finish flag. We were still lying second behind John Hibbard’s blue team.

The bike race was to be done relay-style, a simple circular track looked easy, but in the baking heat it proved quite a challenge. A man down, as Neal was suffering from tummy problems, we went for a simple one lap each, but that wasn’t enough against teams with top cyclists who put in two high speed laps. We had to settle for third place, leaving us a bit to do in the sailing.

The format for the sailing was also to be a relay, but just involved two laps of a course. It was close, but we just couldn’t catch Hugh’s team, while the poor yellow team, who were severely lacking in sailing knowledge, found completing the course a challenge in itself! This gave Hugh’s team overall victory to take the Downwind in Dahab title, but the biggest satisfaction for everyone was completing the four courses despite the dodgy tummies!

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Flat water and strong winds delivered some awesome sailing

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It doesn’t pay to train too hard

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