I always take too long writing these SUP race reports when I should be prepping for the work week, so I'm going to try to do this one FAST.
Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #3
Date it happened: 24 January 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.11 km
Conditions: Cool weather (~14C), moderate river current (~1km)
Participants: Good crew of the usual CGT race team folks, plus a couple other local racers and a newbie or two
Results: I was the fastest 14' SUP, John Wheeler was the fastest 12'6 SUP, Meg Bosi was the fastest woman, Katrina Best was the fastest new racer, and Mark Athanacio was by far the fastest over 50 years old. Justin DiGiorgio got a personal best time and beat Matt Kearney (who is fast) by almost a minute. Phil Trudgeon who has a canoe-racing background came within two seconds of beating Devin Turetzkin who has a jetski racing background. Damien Lin and Donna Catron used drafting advantageously to narrow the gap on speedy snowbird Beth Schadd. Full results are on the CGT TIME TRIALS page
Gear: Since my new board "Fletchy" is getting a facelift, I used one of the shop's demo boards- a 14' x 25.5" 404 v3 carbon with a Stavron fin. It's a nice setup that has stability to spare but is still fast. The 404 v3 boards are really good for dealing with "race situations" like drafting, passing, and handling the rough water at the start. Their noses are low and pointy enough that you can make use of the board's whole waterline to get good glide at cruising speed, yet they have enough width and bluntness that they can also skim across the water in sprint. CGT has a few lightly used ones for good prices. There's the one I rode today, plus a ultra light custom 14x25.75 version that Justin DiGiorgio just put on consignment because he switched to a 14x24 Hovie. Mark Athanacio rode Justin's consignment 404 today because the Hovie Comets he has on order haven't arrived yet.
Play by play: I started in the first group of four with Murray Hunkin, Mark Athanacio, and Mark Hourigan. All of us are close enough in speed that we can form a good draft train, although I don't think Hourigan follows closely enough to actually benefit from the draft- he just keeps pace because he's fast. Murray is on a 14x27 Riviera and Hourigan is on a 14x25 Riviera. Today Murray sprinted hard at the start and I got behind him, followed by Athanacio and Hourigan. Murray averaged 10.4 kph for the first 800 m. That's pretty darn fast, even considering that the current was helping. At about 800 m Murray let me pass so he could take a turn drafting. I pulled for about 800 m, too, then Athanacio took the lead by turning tighter than me at the downriver turn around. I was happy to ride his draft while he did the hard work of pulling against the current. On the way up to the midpoint we slowed down to let Hourigan pull for a while. My memory is fuzzy regarding what draft train negotiations happened after that, but I know that I got in front again before we reached the midpoint, and then Athanacio and I on our 404s broke away from Murray and Hourigan. I was feeling pretty fresh from not having pulled much up to that point, so I just kept a steady pace and did my usual latter-portion-of-race strategy of not giving Athanacio any chances to pass, and finishing like 1 second ahead of him.
Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race. If you go into strava you can see interesting ups and downs in speed and heartrate corresponding with going with vs. against the current and drafting vs. pulling.
PS: After the race Matt Kearney, Devin Turetzkin, and I took surf sups to Wiggins Pass and rode some pretty nice waves. Then the breeze came up and I put a sail on my Exocet WindSUP 11'8. Nice. :)