Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lake Samish Race 2007

The boat races seem to be bunched pretty closely together at this time of year, with every race director trying to get one in before wintry weather makes it unpleasant to be out on the water.

Merely one week after the Paddle the Shores event I drove to Bellingham, WA to participate in the Sound Rowers Lake Samish Salmon Roe. The skies were thick with gray clouds. The temperature was around 50 degrees and the forecast was for showers.

Hopefully the rain would hold off until after the race!

I arrived at Lutherwood Park at the north end of Lake Samish at about 8:30 AM. There were numerous people dressed in bright orange safety gear directing traffic to and from the boat staging areas and parking areas. It all seemed vaguely familiar when it hit me. The people running this event also run the Mt. Baker Ski Resort, and they were using the same sorts of techniques to squeeze people, cars and boats into small spaces as they did on the mountain to handle people, cars and skis.

All in all it went very smoothly.

I dropped off my boat, rolled it onto an out of the way spot on a nearby dock, and returned to park my car in a distant parking area.

Upon returning to the registration area I went to collect my pre-registration packet. These guys were so efficient it was scary - except they somehow lost my online pre-registration.

Oh, well.

Filling out the form on race day only meant that they did not have my T-shirt size available. I had to settle for a large and hope for the best when I washed it later. There was no additional cost for day of event registration.

By the time of the pre-race meeting the place was filled with boats and people. There were 108 boats entered, ranging from plastic kayaks to carbon fiber rowing shells and carrying from one to six people. Racers ranged in age from perhaps 10 years to late 70's. This surely was going to be the biggest Sound Rowers race of the year!

The course was to be the same as in the previous couple of years. It starts just beyond the bridge in the main section of the lake, heads southward to a buoy, heads along the eastern shore to another buoy, returns under the bridge to the far northern shore and finishes shortly after making a turn at the last buoy. The total distance is about 5.5 miles.

As the Sound Rowers club photographer I decided to repeat my slightly longer version of the race. This meant that some time before reaching the first buoy I would instead cross the lake to the eastern shore and follow the course backward around the first turn buoy until I passed the last boat in the race. At that time I would then cross the lake to the buoy on the eastern shore and continue along the course as normal.

This would add anywhere between 0.25 and 0.5 miles and 2 to 5 minutes to the length of my race, but I feel that is a small sacrifice for the far greater number of photo opportunities it presented.

After the pre-race meeting completed I went back to the dock. After swapping my pants and shoes for woolen leg warmers and sandals, sealing the camera in its waterproof bag, launching the Cadence and stowing the wheels in the rushes along the shore, I got under way. There was not a lot of time between the end of the meeting and when the race was supposed to start, and the starting line was about a mile distant.

All in all the trip to the starting line served as a nice warm up. The Cadence was working pretty smoothly and my body was starting to warm up enough that I decided to stow my nylon jacket. The insulation of the PFD and the two long sleeved nylon/synthetic shirts quite adequate in keeping me warm.

When I reached the starting line the 5 minute warning was given. Great! Now I could wander about and take some starting line shots.

There were so many boats here that the organizers suggested that if you were a slower racer that it was preferred that you start in a row behind the faster boats. Even so, the starting line stretched across the lake.

At long last the starting signal was given. We were off!

There was quite a bit of mayhem, with paddles and oars splashing, some minor collisions, and folks trying to make their way down the course.

A surf skier next to me splashed me a couple of times, dousing the camera bag with spray. I extracted a cloth from a pocket in my PFD and attempted to dry the optical port on the camera bag, all while pedaling madly and trying to steer a straight course. Sheesh!

I didn't bother trying to draft anyone. The faster guys were already fairly far ahead and I was able to keep pace with the boats around me. These guys were trying to find their way around each other, positioning behind one or another or trying to catch other boats just ahead. For me it seemed to be a better strategy to just snap photos every so often and keep on moving.

After passing a safety boat that was sitting in the middle of the course towards the first turn buoy it looked like it was time to cross the lake to meet the first racers. I snapped a parting shot of a fast six person dugout canoe with which I had been keeping pace and headed off at an angle. Hopefully no one was drafting me as they would be going the wrong way!

The timing was almost perfect. Just as I reached the far side of the lake the first boat, a two man shell, crossed just ahead of me. I think they were surprised to see me, but they just kept on rowing.

The same couldn't be said about a few of the next boats. I did my best to give them room and yet still be close enough to shoot them. For the most part this seemed to work pretty well.

A little while later I reached the first turn buoy. There were racers still coming towards it as far as the eye could see.

Unfortunately, however, the camera couldn't quite keep up writing photos to the flash memory as fast as shots were taken. It was not as bad as in previous years as I was now acquainted with the problem and tried to space the shooting accordingly. There were still a few times I ended up having to wait, missing some excellent photo ops while doing so.

A minute or two later I encountered Todd in his yellow and white carbon fiber Cadence. He seemed to be doing pretty well and was pedaling pretty strongly. Go Todd!

There were a lot more kayaks, surf skis and even rowing shells still coming. I was starting to wonder how I would be backtracking in order to take everyone's photo!

Eventually the last two boats appeared. One was the four man high kneel canoe paddled by a bunch of young kids from the Cascade Canoe & Kayak center in Seattle, accompanied by their coach in a kayak. These intrepid young paddlers seemed to be a little unsteady at times, but they kept on going. Hurray for them!

I made a bee line across the lake towards the second turn buoy. The GPS was indicating a speed of about 7 mph, and the wind was mostly to the side.

There was a large group of boats just finishing making turn past the buoy when I arrived. The group included a couple of OC-1's, an OC-2, several kayaks, a couple of surf skis and a rowing shell or two, with about twelve boats total. Aha! Targets!

This stretch pedaling back towards the bridge was not quite as easy as I thought it was going to be. The wind driven waves were just big enough to jostle the boat so that the camera wouldn't sit still on the deck behind me. The camera would flop over to one side and yank on my neck in that direction, or flop to the other side and yank in the other direction. Flopping either way also interfered with my balance against the wave action. If the camera was on my chest it would interfere with my heavy breathing. There was just no comfortable place to put it!

I ended up doing some zig zagging so that the boat was either parallel to or perpendicular to the wave direction. This worked OK, but prevented me from making headway and catching up to the other boats.

Getting closer to the bridge the waves decreased in size. I was able to put on some speed and caught up to the tail end of the group.

At the bridge I passed a couple of kayaks, one of whom asked if I was going to catch the OC-1's. I told him "Maybe, but not likely" - and then put the pedal to the metal. He tried to stay on my tail but was having some difficulty in drafting.

I was pretty much at my aerobic limit, having been pushing pretty strongly throughout the race. Still, this was almost at the finish line and there were maybe nine boats just ahead. If I could hang on just a bit longer it would make a big difference in the standings.

Towards the finish I normally snap a lot of photos, but this time I decided to race. After one last sip of water I grabbed both steering handles to brace myself and poured it on. Trying to pedal in circles as best as I could and as fast as I could, the distance between the blue and white OC-1 paddled by Rocky grew smaller. We rounded the final turn buoy, and the finish line was less than 200 feet away.

I was right on Rocky's stern as he paddled as hard as he could. With all the strength I could muster the bow of the Cadence crept forward, now even with the cockpit of the OC-1, now even with the bow and, just as the horn for the finish sounded, about a foot ahead of the OC-1. Hurray!

Rocky asked "Were you trying to catch me at the finish? 'cause I was trying my best to keep ahead of you!"

I confessed and said that yes, I was indeed trying to beat him.

After a bit of a rest and some photography I tied up at the dock and retrieved the outriggers for the boat. Terri, the wife of one of the surf skiers, had wanted to try out the boat with outriggers and this was her chance.

A few other folks tried their hand at pedaling Todd's boat as well as mine, and were generally pretty impressed with how easy they were to handle and to propel.

Last call was being made for the BBQ salmon lunch, so we took the boats from the water and headed over to the picnic area.

There was still a line for getting food, but it wasn't long before I had a steaming plate of salmon, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. It was very tasty!

I walked around the tables while eating, talking to folks and snapping more photos.

Eventually I found the table full of door prizes. These were contributed by a number of firms in the Bellingham area, and also included season lift passes to the Mt. Baker Ski Resort.

It was a while before the drawings for the prizes were made. As usual I didn't win anything.

It was still longer before the ribbons were awarded for the race. The fastest finish was by two guys in a rowing shell, with a time of 36:17. They were cooking!

Awards were given out to everyone but the three pedal boats, as we seemed to have been forgotten. This was brought to their attention immediately, and I received a first place ribbon with a time of 52:42. Not too bad for pedaling an extra quarter mile and shooting photos!

Todd received a second place ribbon with a time of 1:01:34. Todd's wife Lucia finished first in the women's pedal boat class with a time of 1:02:43. Way to go!

Thank you, Amy, Duncan and Peter for putting on such a great event!

The rest of the shots taken can be found here.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paddle the Shores

Just a short week after Budd Inlet was an event at Ocean Shores, WA. Called "Paddle the Shores", this two day event included a race on Duck Lake, seminars, demonstrations and boat try outs, and a poker paddle that included boating on some very pretty canals.

There - I'm all done!

Well, the long story is that it was rather chilly on Saturday morning with temperatures in the upper 50's. There was a light northwesterly breeze off the ocean. Even when the sun rose up into the sky as the morning wore on it stayed relatively cool.

After picking up my race registration stuff (wrist band, prize drawing ticket, boat number, discount coupon booklet) I got my boat ready for the race.

Today would be different. I was not going to take along anything but water and a canoe paddle. That's right - there would be no radios, cell phones or cameras in this race!

I wanted to have a race without that sort of stuff to get in the way. Woo hoo!

After some "capture the tag" contests, where people in kayaks try to grab tags attached to other kayakers and not lose their own tags, and demonstrations of kayak rolling techniques, and demonstrations of kayak rescue techniques, the pre-race meeting was held. It all sounded simple enough: go south, bear left at the first island and go under the bridge. Continue south and bear right until you hit the next set of islands, where you bear left. Continue south until you reach an orange buoy. Go around the buoy and return along the west side of the lake until you reach the last island, where you bear right. Continue northward until you eventually end up back at the start.

Looking at the map it seemed that there could be room for confusion, as some of the shoreline had inlets that looked like channels, etc. Hmmm...

The boat ramp and dock were pretty much the only areas at which we could launch. It took a while for all the boats to get into the water. Luckily for me most folks opted to launch from the ramp, while I had nearly unrestricted use of the dock. Ok, so I had to wait a moment for an OC-2 to paddle away from the shore. There was plenty of time before the race and no need to hurry.

Once out on the water I clicked into the pedals and began warming up. The sun was glaring off the water and into my eyes, and I felt a little nervous about this new course. This would be the first new race I had been at in years. Was the lake truly weed free, as we had been told? Would I be able to find my way among all the islands and channels?

We lined up for the start as best we could. The lake was very narrow at the starting line, being only perhaps 70 feet across. Some of the boats had troubles getting in line or, once there, had troubles maintaining a stationary position against the wind. Their paddles or oars would clash with adjacent boats.

I had no problems. Pedaling slowly in reverse worked quite well in keeping the Cadence right at the starting line.

Just before the starting signal was given a guy in a Hobie Mirage managed to find himself turned sideways in front of the boats on my left. In addition, another guy in a rowing shell just managed to squeeze in near me, placing me right against an OC-6. Boy, this was tight!

The signal was given, and we were off.

With the clatter of paddles hitting boats, the splashing of water and the whirring of my chain drive, the boats on my side scooted away from the starting line. This was a first - I was actually staying with the lead boats!

In the next few seconds, with my legs spinning the cranks faster than I ever recalled doing before, my boat leapt ahead of everyone, including the OC-6. Looking around, I saw that it was almost a boat length behind.

This was weird. My legs were still pedaling at an extraordinary rate, feeling very good, yet my breathing and my heart rate were only at a moderate level. I had to make a conscious effort to slow down pedaling as I knew that I couldn't possibly maintain that level for 5+ miles, regardless of how effortless it seemed at the moment.

In slowing down I decided to travel alongside the OC-6 for a while. These folks had done the race previously and knew the course. It would probably also be good to draft them and save my energy for later.

As I began drafting I found my legs starting to complain more, and my lungs and heart rate increased to near my aerobic threshold. Was it a mistake to have slowed down?!? Perhaps the Cadence has a super performance mode of operation of which I was previously unaware, such as one finds in power boats when they get on a plane.

All I know is that I was now working very hard and doing my best to stay in the draft of the OC-6, avoiding the whirlpools from their paddles.

We went under a bridge at the first island. Several spectators waved at us and cheered us on.

Here and there I could see small isolated pieces of milfoil floating at the surface. Hopefully they wouldn't get in my way!

I managed to keep the bow of the Cadence mere inches from the stern of the OC-6, well most of the time, anyway. There were a couple of times when they overlapped while the OC-6 zigged and zagged slightly down the course, and a couple of minor taps when I didn't slow or veer away quickly enough. No damage was done.

We were going about the same speed as the wind. This meant that the heat of exertion and that from the sun made it quite hot as we headed toward the turn buoy. I took off my hat, preferring instead to shade my eyes with my hands and try to let my scalp cool off. In addition, I decided that I would probably not bother drafting the OC-6 on the return as I was just melting.

As luck would have it, with the turn buoy just ahead I reached for my water bottle and, with great finesse, dropped my drink into the drink.


It was as good of an excuse as any to drop off the OC-6.

I turned the boat around and noticed that we had placed quite a lead over the next boats in the race. Well, perhaps I shouldn't give up quite so soon!

After retrieving the floating bottle I quickly resumed course and rounded the turn buoy. The OC-6 was several hundred feet ahead, but I was not in a condition to catch them - yet, anyway.

With the sun now at my back I decided to see how fast a speed the GPS was reporting. What's this? The screen was blank!

Oh, no! The darned thing had been stationary too long before the start and turned itself off. Now I'll never know how fast I was going at the start!

I turned it back on.

With the OC-6 ahead to guide me on the return trip and a nice, cool breeze in my face I started feeling better. My heart and breathing rates were both a bit lower than while drafting, which suited me just fine. The GPS was reporting speeds in the 6.5 to 7 mph range. This was a nice, sustainable pace, and seemed to be about the same as the lead boat.

While traveling past the last of the islands and about 2/3 done with the race I encountered a woman in the race pedaling a Mirage toward me. She actually lived near there on the lake and even she wasn't sure which way the course went. I told her she was on the wrong side of the island and pointed her back onto the course.

My speed dropped slightly a short while later, so I went through the weed removal cycle. The speed didn't increase a whole lot, so I did it again. Success!

It was fun zipping past all the other racers and safety boats. A few folks later on said it looked like I was hardly working at all.

Passing under the bridge a second time and nearing the end I tied to decide whether it would be a good tactical move to travel along the lee side of the lake rather than continue straight into the wind. Ahead I saw the OC-6 making a bee line for what looked like - could it be? - yes, the finish line!

I abandoned the move and also made a bee line towards the finish, pedaling faster and faster.

It took approximately 90 seconds after the OC-6 crossed the finish line for me to follow suit. 49:29 was the time recorded, and second place overall! Woo hoo!

My legs were feeling pretty good, much better than they felt after the Budd Inlet race. I circled back around onto the course and had fun escorting the next few boats across the finish, seeing how fast I could sprint.

After the race I tried out the latest set of outriggers for the Cadence. They seemed to work pretty well, making the boat extremely stable.

Awards and prizes were given out to the race participants a little later. There were no awards given on the basis of the overall race; rather, they were awarded on the position in each class. Strangely enough, the prop driven Cadence was in the same class as the flipper driven Hobies, so the poor gentleman who pedaled his Hobie over the line 20+ minutes after me was awarded second place. Oh, well.

I had some family matters to attend to and didn't go to the seminars in the afternoon.

The next morning I took my family out for the poker paddle. They rode in the Escapade and I took the Cadence fitted with outriggers. Both boats were frequently topics of conversations among the paddlers at this event.

Despite the warnings of a local Encore pedal boat owner, I found the boat ramp to be perfect for launching the Escapade. Unlike most places I have launched that boat here it was able to float right off the bunks. Yay!

We should have left the Escapade's windshield at the dock. My wife found it to be quite warm as she pedaled it on this overcast, calm day. Oh, well.

We each carried a walkie talkie and cell phone for interboat communications. About halfway through the trip the battery in my radio died and we resorted to cell phones from then on.

The poker paddle event consisted of 7 stops along a loop course. At each stop you were handed (via a clothes pin glued to a long stick) a card in a sealed envelope. At the end of the event you would turn in your sealed envelopes. Whatever cards the envelopes contained would be your poker hand, with the best 5 cards picked. If you didn't want to travel the full distance you could exclude the middle two stops and end up with just 5 cards.

As it turned out, most folks went the entire distance. My wife didn't want to go the whole way as the attention span of the kids was whining, er, waning, so they took the short cut. Little did they realize that it was only a short distance to the furthest two stops and that this would have most likely given them a much better hand.

I went the whole distance, spending much of the time pedaling alongside a paddler who had rowed in the race the day before. We were traveling around 2 to 3 mph for the most part, much slower than I normally travel even when in the Escapade. Still, it was fun to see all the trees, boats and houses along the lake and tree covered canals, socializing with other boaters and talking shop.

Shortly after our return back to the lake I bid adieu to the paddler and increased the pace to 6 mph. That was more like it!

The outriggers sliced through the water cleanly, producing an interesting wake pattern behind. As the sun came out I caught up and passed boat after boat, heading towards the north end of the lake where my family was disembarking.

By the time I reached the dock they had already left for an early lunch, preferring not to wait for the picnic provided by the organizers. Oh, well.

After giving a few demos of the Escapade and the Cadence I headed to the picnic shelter for lunch. The food - hot dogs, burgers, beans, coleslaw, chips, etc. - were pretty tasty, and there was plenty for everyone.

Prizes were awarded for the poker hands. The top prize was a $150 gift certificate to Boaters World. It was followed by $100 and $50 certificates, dry bags, jackets, restaurant certificates, and many other items of interest to paddlers.

I ended up with a restaurant certificate good for two meals. Yippee!

The two days spent here were a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

More photos are here.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Budd Inlet Race 2007

The forecast for the day was for light winds, overcast skies and temperatures in the low 60's. Waves were supposed to be in the 0 to 1 foot range.

Upon arriving in Olympia, WA, at the Swantown Marina I found the conditions to be exactly as predicted. Not only that, but for the first time in recent years the tide was also at its maximum level. This meant that the typically exposed muddy bottom at the southernmost reach of Puget Sound was submerged, covered with more water than I think I've ever seen in that location. What a difference it makes!

Quite a few rowers from the Vancouver Lake Crew (Vancouver, WA) and the local rowing club (Olympia Area Rowing - OAR) were present for the race. There were a couple of OC-2's, some surf skis and a few single and double kayaks as well, and a lone pedal boat.

Oh, well. All I had to do was finish and I'd be assured of a blue ribbon!

After registering and bringing my boat to the staging area I attended the pre-race meeting. It was held on the concrete apron in front of OAR's nice, new boat house located right beside the boat launch.

The course was described as a rather flattened triangle. It starts from the end of the dock at the north end of the marina, heads north-northwesterly towards a large channel marker with a checkerboard patterned sign, turns northeasterly towards a boat moored on the east side of the Inlet, and returns to the start. The total distance is 7 nautical miles, or approximately 8 statute miles.

The record for pedal boats for this event was set in 2004 with a time of 1:08:36. This was done by yours truly in a Cadence, when I was definitely younger and perhaps in better shape than I was today.

The pre-race meeting ended about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the race. Wow - there was no need to rush as there was for the Bainbridge Island Marathon! I could actually launch the boat, stow the dolly back at the staging area, warm up and take photos of the other racers and not have to worry about starting on time!

In addition, the water at the boat launch was nearly mirror flat - except for the ripples caused by boats being put in the water. There were absolutely no waves, weeds, rocks or worries at the start of this event.

I managed to get my boat in the water well before most of the other participants, and pedaled around warming up and taking photos.

There were several 4 person shells and 8 person shells in this race. The 4's and 8's were supposed to start somewhat later than the rest of the racers. This allowed them to come up and pass everyone, and give them the satisfaction of the chase. This also gave the other racers the incentive to not be passed by the faster boats, or to at least try to keep up with them once caught.

At the 5 minute signal we began to form a line for the start. At the 1 minute signal I found myself near a couple of OC-2's and a surf ski. That seemed to be a good position, more or less in the middle of the pack. The GPS reported that I had been pedaling some 1.5 miles so far, with a maximum warmup speed of about 7.4 mph.

The starting signal was given and we were off!

Right at the start the guy in the surf ski splashed me with the first stroke of his paddle. I was not too pleased about this as I then had to check to see if the camera's lens port was hit. Luckily it wasn't, and I was able to continue pedaling and snapping photos.

It seemed to me that we were having a rather fast start. The GPS was reporting speeds in the 7 to 8 mph range, and there were folks who seemed to jump ahead and keep on going at still higher speeds. On the other hand, my legs felt fairly strong and my breathing was still aerobic. Perhaps some unknown force was pulling us northward, a force that wasn't discernable at the starting line.

I turned to the side and was surprised by the number of rowers that seemed to be pacing me. What was going on here? Were these guys just pacing themselves or, more likely, was I putting out too much energy early in the race?

I took some shots aimed behind me. With these shots I have absolutely no idea if they turn out or not until I see them back home. Sometimes they do and sometimes (most of the time) they don't. When they do, however, the results can be wonderful. Perhaps some day I'll be able to take such shots and use them during a race to tactical advantage.

The field of boats ahead was slowly moving away. They were definitely going too fast for me to try to catch. Meanwhile, I noticed a few surf skis and kayaks slowly catching up and passing on the port side. I guess I had better pedal a bit harder or perhaps take fewer photos!

Up ahead I noticed an OC-2 paddled by Vern Heikkila and another guy. When Vern paddles with his wife they are typically a little slower than me. When he paddles with a guy he is typically faster. I decided to try to catch them, figuring I could then take a break following in their wake.

The GPS was still reporting speeds in the 7 to 8 mph range, but closer to 8. My breathing was getting close to my aerobic limits, but I was gaining on the OC-2. I still took a few photos of the racers nearby, each of which tended to reduce my pedaling effort somewhat in an effort to hold the camera steady, but after a couple of minutes I caught up. Whew!

My legs were still feeling quite strong. In fact, they felt like they would rather have continued pedaling at the higher effort than take a bit of a break as I pedaled in the wake of the OC-2.

Considering how close to the beginning of the race we still were, I decided that it would be better to try to pace myself a bit more and stick to the OC-2. It would not be good to burn out before the first turn!

Stick to them I did, though it seemed that I dropped back 10 or 15 feet every time I took pictures of the racers on either side. My legs were complaining a little about the variation in effort it took to maintain the distance between the bow of the Cadence and the stern of the OC-2. It seemed that a continuous effort suited the muscles better.

On the other hand, it was definitely easier to follow in the wake and to catch up when I dropped behind. Just mark me down as an opportunistic lazy bum!

We hit the first turn at the same time as several single rowing shells. We took the inside of the turn and they took the outside. There was a bit of confusion as to who was going exactly where, but it all got sorted out in short order.

En route to the second turn on the east side of the Inlet we were slowly passed by a single shell and a four person shell. Our speed had dropped slightly and was now in the 6.5 to 7.5 mph range.

A few small pieces of wood could be seen were floating in the water along with some five inch diameter jellyfish here and there, but otherwise the water was quite clear of debris and weeds. Yay!

There was a photographer in the boat at the second turn. It looked like he tried to snap my photo as I approached, but I think I was too close and too fast. As there were a bunch of other boats also trying to make the turn he had to make quick choices as to what he could do.

The OC-2 nearly got away, but I managed to catch it with a few seconds of hurried pedaling.

The GPS was showing our speed as 6 to 6.5 mph. Hmm, perhaps there was an outgoing tide slowing us down.

The first 8 person shell caught us shortly after the second turn. Their cox apparently had troubles seeing obstacles directly in their path as they ran into a small buoy even with the warning shouts from several of the rowers in the boats nearby. From the way their approach sounded I had been concerned that they might have been heading into me!

No damage was done, except to their time.

They decided to row a bit further from shore after that.

Our group seemed to stay pretty close together. We had three rowing shells, a surf ski, the OC-2 and my pedal boat. From time to time a shell would cross our path and be closer to shore, or go the other way and be further in the channel. Still, we were all going about the same speed and from time to time yelled some observation to each other.

It would be interesting to see how it played out at the finish!

From the rear I could hear the sound from the cox of another 8 person shell as they slowly approached. This gave me a smart idea: if I could catch their tail I would be able to draft them all the way to the finish. This would put me ahead of all these other guys.

I turned slightly away from the OC-2, heading out towards where I could eventually meet the shell.

Unfortunately, the 8 person shell was going a little faster than I had originally calculated, and I didn't catch their draft. Rats!

I tried to go back to the OC-2, but my legs were showing the strain of the failed attempt to tail the 8. The OC-2 and the single rowers moved on without me.

In a desperate attempt to blame the problem on something fouling my propeller I reverse pedaled, coming to a stop, and pedaled forward again. This sort of action normally removes any accumulation of weeds and the boat goes faster than before. This time, however, there appeared to be no weeds slowing me down. I was just tired!

Another surf ski slowly caught up and passed as the finish line was approached. I tried sprinting a couple of times and almost overlapped his hull, but my legs were definitely running out of energy. Perhaps having a low carb dinner the night before was not such a good idea after all!

With a time of 1:08:56, just 20 seconds off the record, I crossed the finish line. If I had stayed with the OC-2 or if I had caught the 8, I would have set a new record. Oh, well.

My legs were not very happy with me. I had finished the main water bottle, but that wasn't enough fluid to keep the calf muscles from cramping for about 10 minutes. Pedaling slowly didn't help much, either.

Eventually they loosened up and, with the arrival of the penultimate paddlers, I pedaled to shore.

Back at the registration area the organizers had set up a luncheon buffet. On the menu were jambalaya, chili, rice, salad, bread and fruit. I took a plate and filled it with the tasty looking morsels. It definitely hit the spot!

There was a bit of a delay after lunch before the results were announced. Some folks packed up and went home, but most stayed around and conversed.

At the awards ceremony the results were given by class with ribbons awarded to the first three places in each class. There were a lot of blue ribbons distributed, especially to all the 8's: men's, women's, mixed, junior, etc. There were not very many second place finishers in those classes!

After my abbreviated race the previous weekend it felt good to be fully worn out. It felt better to have yet another race under my belt even it wasn't quite a record breaker!

The entire set of photos taken at the race can be found here.

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