This morning I drove up to the Palm Island Resort in Cape Haze, FL to join my cgt race team buddies at the (SUP) Race Around Palm Island. The resort was gorgeous and secluded, on an island reachable only by a small ferry across the intracoastal waterway. I've got the resort mentally bookmarked now as a good place for an anniversary weekend or something.
The race course was originally planned as a 3/4 circumnavigation of the island, 21 km from the side of the resort on the intracoastal waterway to the side of the resort on the Gulf of Mexico. As the event neared and the forecast called for strong NW wind they first decided to reverse the direction of the course (so the ocean leg would be a "downwinder"), then decided to do the whole course in the intracoastal waterway instead and shorten it to 18 km. They also had a 4.8 km race for the sane people.
This is the first 2/3 of the race from my Speedcoach gps.
Even at "just" 18 km this race was the longest I have ever done, and the upwind leg was BRUTAL. This graph from iwindsurf.com shows the wind at the nearby Boca Grande sensor.
The first race finishers were "surfski" kayaks and outrigger canoes, followed by a 17' tandem SUP with a well-coordinated father-son team. Winner in the 14' SUP class was Stephen Chase on a 2014 14' x 24.5" JP Flatwater Race board. I was in second place about 4 minutes later on CGT's 2015 14' x 25" Riviera RP. On my GPS the distance was 17.978 km and my time was 2:17:53. Other CGT team finishers were:
18 km race-
Matt Kearney 14' SUP, 2:47:53
Meg Bosi 12'6 SUP, 2:48:01 (2nd women!)
Brad "Devin" Turetzkin 14 SUP, 2:57:15 (3rd 50+)
Jason Mastin 12'6 SUP, 0:37:43 (1st place!)
Bryan Herrick 12'6 SUP, 0:38:25 (2nd place!)
Savanna Mastin 12'6 SUP, 0:43:52 (Savana graciously paused her race to help out a kid with a broken paddle)
Here's a play-by-play of how the race went from my perspective:
1. Start- A lot of people (including me) didn't hear the 1 minute warning whistle and remained scattered far from the starting line when the start whistle blew. People had to shout, "GO! Yes, GO!" until we caught on that the race was really starting. Doh!
2. Aided by a tailwind I sprinted pretty well to make up for my bad starting position. I got to the front where Stephen Chase was, and I picked up his draft.
3. Stephen was making good time, faster than 10 kph with the wind and tide helping, so I was content to stay in his wake. We pulled away from everyone else except the sit-down paddlers and the 17' tandem SUP that passed us. I kept pretty relaxed and took some sips from my dilute-gatorade-filled camelback.
4. When the intracoastal opened up into a wider bay the chop and wind increased and Stephen fell. I passed him and focused on riding the chop downwind en route to the turn-around spot, under a bridge.
5. I made my pivot turn under the bridge successfully but immediately slowed way down as I faced into the strong wind and oncoming chop. I settled into a slow and steady pace, but annoyingly had to paddle almost exclusively on my right side to maintain a heading. However, I figured everyone else would be having at least as much trouble as me, and that I might be able to win the race by just surviving.
6. That hope was dispelled when I saw Stephen Chase coming up on the left side of me. I struggled to get over and draft him but only managed to do so for a minute or two before I jostled out of his wake. I didn't have the strength or endurance to catch him. Somehow he made paddling into the wind look easy. He's a strong guy with a stocky build, which might help with the upwind stuff. Although as I recall he beat me pretty good in the Battle of the Blueway, too, and that race wasn't windy. So I'd say he's pretty badass all around.
7. The remainder of the race was grueling and demoralizing as I lagged further behind and struggled to get my groove going against the wicked wind and some current, too. My Speedcoach GPS gave me the "memory full" message around then, which was the only time during the race that I swore. I wish it would just overwrite the oldest logged data instead of aborting the current log when the memory filled up, because I never remember to clear the memory log manually.
8. My upper back and shoulders were on fire for the last couple kms, and my legs and hips started to get shaky and fatigued near the end too. But at last it was over. I felt like I had given it near 100% effort and was very pleased to get second place in a tough race with tough competitors. The one thing wasn't totally exhausted was my cardio (heart and lungs). I seem to have been more limited this time by muscle fatigue. For future into-the-wind races I might see if I can develop some sort of faster but lighter stroke.
The food, prize ceremony, and raffles after the race will superbly done, and it was fun hanging out with the CGT team and some of the other Florida racers we're getting to know now. Also, I really like the t-shirts they gave out. This was a great race.
Here's me, Stephen Chase, and Yensys Loyola, the 2nd, 1st, and 3rd place finishers in the 18-49 year old men's 14 sup class. John Sekas (not pictured) actually finished a couple minutes in front of Yensys but was in the 50+ age class. The guy with the microphone is the race coordinator and MC Bruce Denson.
Here's Devin Turetzkin, Me, Matt Kearney, and Meg Bosi of the cgt team.
The Cape awakened ...
3 hours ago