Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dan Harris Challenge

This race was one that would probably have been on the Sound Rowers schedule, but didn't make it. Hopefully, they will be on the schedule next year.

Anyway, the weather was perfect: calm, light overcast and cool temperatures. The launch was very nice, too: a coarse sandy beach, protected from most waves and not very far from the staging area.

There were quite a few paddlers, rowers, but only one pedal boat at the start of the race.

I was trying the outriggers in a new configuration on the Cadence. The mounts where they connect with the hull have been angled slightly upward with the intention that the floats would be just above the water when the boat was occupied and perfectly balanced.

Unfortunately, the angle was not quite enough. The floats were still in the water, though not by more than perhaps half an inch or so of depth. It was a definite improvement as the drag was reduced, but it was still present.

After cruising around the boats at the starting line taking photos I found a spot near a couple of guys in a Merry Wherry and waited for the signal to start the race.

In the distance I heard a countdown, and then we were off!

With the outriggers deployed the Cadence did not have the acceleration nor the high cruising speed it otherwise has. I was working hard to keep up with an OC-1 and the Merry Wherry as we traveled en route to the first turn, but eventually I decided that I would have to bite the bullet and remove the outriggers if I wanted to be competitive. With the flat seas and no wind there was no need to have them deployed.

After rounding the buoy I tried pedaling while pressing on the release button and pulling out the aka (support tube), but it took a bit of effort before the right one finally was removed. I had to stop to remove the left one, and after a short time of pedaling along with them held across my lap decided that there had to be a better way.

I reinserted the outrigger akas back into their mounts on the hull, but with the floats up side down. This left them both several inches above the water but still available to provide stability if the boat tipped to one side or another. Hmmm, perhaps future amas could be mounted to be this high normally!

Having stopped for a while to make these modifications meant that I had fallen still further behind. Oh, well. It was time to put the pedal to the metal.

Never having been here before it was good to have other racers ahead to point out the way. Still, from what I recalled from the various maps of the race course as well as maps of the area, it seemed to me that most of the racers were heading quite a bit to the west of the land mass I thought to be Chuckanut Island, which marked the halfway point. I decided to head on a more eastward heading.

A little while later I encountered the first of the racers returning en route to the finish. The rowers tended to be on the right side, and most of the paddlers tended to be closer to shore on the left. Maybe the paddlers knew something about currents or something, or the rowers didn't want to worry about navigating around the rocks near shore. I don't know.

Eventually I reached the north end of Chuckanut Island, where I decided to go around clockwise, which was the opposite direction that the racers were heading. There were still some photo ops to be had, and meeting the racers face on was better than from their backs.

The island was rather pretty. Apparently made of sandstone, there were quite a few interesting erosional features along its eastern shore. I shot a few pictures of the sculpted rocks and sea stacks between shots of racers. It was very nice!

Rounding the south end of the island I encountered some seaweed, feeling the tug on the pedals as it wrapped around the propeller. A couple of cycles of pedaling forward and then reverse seemed to do the trick of clearing it and I was on my way again.

There were still a few kayaks heading south towards the island as I headed away from the island and towards the turn buoy. During this time I saw Todd and Lucia, two Cadence owners who apparently started the race quite late, having missed the entrance to the park several times.

I began pedaling in intervals at higher speed, followed by a more moderate cruising speed. This strategy enabled me to slowly catch up to and pass a couple of kayaks that had been about half a mile or so ahead at the island shortly after I reached the turn buoy.

There was one more kayak ahead that I hoped to catch before the finish. My legs were starting to talk to me, though, and for whatever reason I couldn't seem to go much faster than 6 to 6.5 mph. Hmmm, perhaps there were still some weeds in the drive train.

After going through a quick cleaning maneuver I continued towards the finish. The speed didn't appear to change much, so I just kept plugging away at the pedals.

The distance between me and the kayak was slowly shrinking as we passed the Washington State ferry at the shipyard, getting a new coat of paint along with other repairs. A train also passed by on its track along the shore, with it horns blaring.

Soon we could hear the air horn at the finish line signaling that other boats had completed the race. Pedal faster!

The finish line came too soon and the other boat crossed before I did. Oh, well.
With a time of 1:36:37 I finished the race. Whew - what a workout!

I pedaled around the finish line area for a few minutes taking pictures of the incoming paddlers. Eventually I returned to shore and examined the propeller for entanglements.

Sure enough, a bit of eel grass managed to get past the weed cutter and was wrapped around the prop shaft in the ball bearings. It was just enough to prevent my sprints from exceeding 6.5 mph and passing that last kayak.

Oh, well. It was time for lunch!

During the race my lovely wife and son went to the local natural foods co-op and bought some vegetarian beef hamburger, organic mushrooms and some non-dairy, non-soy chocolate cocoa nut ice cream. The burger and mushrooms were grilled by the race chef along the other, lesser race-provided burgers and came out absolutely delicious. The ice cream was also very tasty, even on a cool day such as this one.

In addition to the awards there was a drawing for various prizes, including paddles, PFD's, etc. As luck would have it, I managed to drive away with absolutely nothing but memories and photos of a good race and friendly competition.

More photos can be found

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