Picture: Matt Kearney tries to stay ahead of Justin DiGiorgio...
Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #5
Date it happened: 21 February 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.12 km
Conditions: Pleasant sunny weather, stronger than usual river current, and low tide
Participants: The usual CGT race team, plus some new people.
Results: In the 14' SUP class I was first in 33:27, followed by Mark Athanacio and Mark Hourigan who started in a separate group. A little further back, Matt Kearney beat Justin DiGiorgio. Murray Hunkin was trying out a different paddle and didn't do quite as well as he usually does. Devin Turetzkin borrowed Jodi Ziajka's 12'6 board and was first place in the 12'6 class, slightly ahead of first place woman Meg Bosi who raced strong despite partying strong for her 26th birthday the previous night. Joseph Gladieux, who also partied strong for HIS birthday the night before, rode my 14x24.75 Fanatic Falcon and set his personal best time by a large margin. Hopefully he's convinced it's a fast board and will buy it. Full results will be posted on the CGT TIME TRIALS page.
Gear: This was the second time I did a CGT race on my 14'x23.75" Riviera, "Fletchy." I was happy to get a personal best time on it, though I was only 3 seconds faster than in the 3 January race where I used the Fanatic Falcon and cooperatively drafted with Mark Athanacio. Both Athanacio and I went without drafting this time.
Play by play: I started in the first group of four with Matt Kearney, Murray Hunkin, and Justin DiGiorgio. The second group had Mark Hourigan, Mark Athanacio, and I'm not sure who else. Everyone in the first group had pretty similar sprint speed off the starting line, but I went wide and eventually got in front. Murray drafted me and Matt and Justin were behind him. I broke away from the train after a while, but Matt reports on what happened in that group.
Matt Kearney: "I stayed on Murray all the way until the Frankenbuoy then passed him coming around that. I only dropped off you because he did and I had no choice. Not that I could have stayed on much longer anyway. Another intrigue: Murray managed to fall well behind me and then pass me a couple of times after that without ever drafting each other. After I passed him by quite a bit rounding the Frankenbuoy, he jumped on Mark A's draft to pass me. Then hit another wall and I passed him by a lot. Then he jumped on Mark H's draft to pass me again before falling behind for good once more. Haha."
After the turn-around at the "Frankenbuoy," it was tough going upriver. My downriver speed average was 11.1 kph but upriver it was about 7.9 kph. I got a clue as to how I was doing was after the upriver turn-around, when I ran into Athanacio a lot sooner than I had in the 7 February race (when he was sick). That meant he was going a lot faster than he had before, and that he might beat my time. Fortunately all I had left to do was the downriver part. Even though I'm always most exhausted on the final downriver part of the race, it's a lot easier psychologically than the upriver part, maybe because you "feel" like you're going fast.
Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race:
Other race intrigues: It has been interesting to see, as time goes on, how different racers are getting more savvy about finding the right training and techniques for their personal styles. Mark Hourigan is leading the way, as probably the most fit 55 year old I have ever seen. He mixes regular paddling with sup-focused gym training twice a week, and he's smart about knowing when to push hard and when to rest and recover. Murray Hunkin is in the process of adapting his very high-volume kayak training routines to SUP training, focusing on getting in optimal shape for a few of the bigger out-of-town races this year. Murray and Hourigan are both big believers in "good fats", but Murray might be rethinking that a little because even though he's super strong he has a lot more weight to push than his competition. Justin DiGiorgio is staying competitive in the race series even though his work schedule doesn't allow him to practice on the water at all between races. He goes to the gym before work, though, so that must keep him in shape. It will be interesting to see how fast he gets when daylight savings time hits and he can start paddling regularly. Damien Lin and her training partner/competitor Donna Catron have an interesting dynamic where Donna smokes Damien in practice, but Damien always wins the actual races. Maybe it's psychological or something- some people have a hard time pushing themselves through fatigue in practice but have a killer instinct that kicks in during racing. Or maybe Damien is savvier about using the river current to her advantage; using the center of the channel when going downstream and staying on the edges and cutting corners when going upstream. I look forward to more paddling with all the team to learn their tricks and share mine. :)