While most of the European orienteers were busy in Portugal and Spain, NZ had its first big competition of the year, Sprint the Bay. The competition is a tour-style series of sprint races emulating the form of Le Tour de France. This year marked the 5th, and sadly final Sprint the Bay, which has been pivotal to New Zealander’s rise at the junior level. The demanding courses and perfectly organised events have attracted the likes of Øystein Kvaal Østerbø and Julian Dent in the past. Last year Sprint the Bay set new standards in terms of its organisation and international contingent, following the first round of the world cup. The field this year did not have the same depth, however the events organisation and map quality could not be faulted.
In the first four stages of this years tour, Tim Roberston (JWOC Bronze Medalist 2013) and I had some tough battles, winning 2 stages each out of the first 4. Going into the 5th stage we were merely 17 seconds apart. In the 5th stage I secured the overall victory with Tim Robertson cracking under what has become his Achilles Heel of STB, ‘the mountain stage’.
On the whole I was quite happy with my racing, technically I was fairly solid, however there were a couple of moments where I lost control and missed some seconds. All maps and results can be found on the STB website. The highlight for me was the 3rd stage, running on Sacred Girls. This was a slice of cartographic genius, and I thank Ross for demonstrating sprint mapping and course setting at the highest level. The 3D nature of the route choices, combined with extremely intricate areas gave this race a very European feel, something truly unique in New Zealand.
For now the training continues, as with preparations for TONIC, an event which I am largely responsible for and which will host the trials for the NZ JWOC Team. More details can be found on the TONIC website, but is shaping up to be one of the highlight events of the century in NZ. Immediately after TONIC, on the 31st of March I will begin my travels to the home of Orienteering, Sweden, where my future awaits me.