After a day of paddling and coasteering around the beautiful Jervis Bay, as night fell lead teams paddled across Saint Georges Basin to arrive at Sussex Inlet ready to tackle Leg 4, a 95km difficult mountain bike to Kioloa on day 2 of racing.
The undulating and steep bike leg takes the teams through the scenic Conjola National Park, the home to the Bundewang and Yuin people for 6,000 years.
Seagate (NZL) surged to arrive at the first CP taking the lead from Peak Adventure with Yealands closely behind. As the teams progressed throughout the night, riding into Morton National Park, fatigue began to slow and affect some team’s navigational decisions.
The bike leg with approximately 1,600 meters elevation, took the teams to Florence Head, where it was imperative racers stay on the trail in order to avoid unexploded ordinances. The World Championship would not be complete without the typical Craig Bycroft (Race Director) ‘hike-a-bike’ but this time with a twist. Teams were ‘all hands on deck’ to move their bikes through bush, over rocks and roots, up and down steep cliffs and around narrow ridge lines with big drop offs. More like a trail for a bush bashing trek, than a mountain bike leg!
Some later teams encountered issues with bike mechanicals and crashes. Nicolas Vallejo from Sportotal (ARG) sustained a suspected shoulder fracture with the team later retiring. William Hitchon from Team Spirit (CAN) also sustained a suspected collar bone injury after crashing, with the team also retiring.
As the sun was coming up, Seagate arrived at the TA at Kioloa. Adventure Medical Kits (USA) had made a lot of ground overnight on the difficult bike leg to arrive 10 minutes after followed by Godzone Adventure – OMM (UK), Yealands (NZ) and Swedish Armed Forces Adventure (SWE), nearly another hour later.
Leg 5 was a 38km Coasteering leg along some pristine beaches and bush in Murramurang National Park down to Batemans Bay. Some sections of were impassable at high tides, so route choice was important at certain tide times. Seagate cementing their lead hit the beach early morning completing the scenic leg in 6.5 hours. They arrived at the Batemans Bay TA at 10.47am, well ahead of estimated leg times and 40 minutes ahead of the next team Adventure Medical Kits. Thule Adventure Team (SWE) and Estonian ACE Adventure (EST) arrived together 20 minutes thereafter, making good progress through the field during the leg.
Tom Gibbs of Godzone Adventure (UK) fell during the coasteering leg, injuring his collarbone and was forced to retire. The team continues on but will be unranked in the Championship event.
From Batemans Bay, the top five teams paddled the Clyde River to arrive at the TA on dusk. Seagate increased their lead to 50 minutes, from Adventure Medical Kits. Thule and Estonian ACE Adventure arrived later together, with Yealands rounding out 5th place on the leaderboard at the end of the second day of racing.
As the teams further back in the field are relieved to have complete the grueling mountain bike leg and embark on the scenic coastal trek, the lead teams will now ride the 58km Mountain Bike leg into Southern Forests into the night.