Picture: Local HovieSUP riders pose with brand owner Brian Hovnanian from Sarasota. Race winner Mark Athanacio is in the front row with his black and grey Hovie Comet GT 14x23.
Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #6
Date it happened: 6 March 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.12 km
Conditions: Pleasant sunny weather, moderate current and breeze, very low water levels.
Participants: The usual CGT race team, the HovieSUP business owners, plus some new people.
Results: First place in the men's 14' class was Mark Athanacio, in 33:32. I was two seconds behind. Yep- I got BEAT this time. Third man was Mark Hourigan in 35:28. Women's 12'6 class winner was out-of-town Hovie rider Francesca Morrow, in 39:28, followed by Kate Pagan in 39:47 and Meg Bosi in 39:52. Kate and Meg were also on Hovie sups. Full results will be posted on the CGT TIME TRIALS page.
Gear: I used my 14'x23.75" Riviera, "Fletchy." Athanacio was on a 14'x23" Hovie Comet GT. Both of us used Fins Unlimited 6" Keel fins.
Play by play: The first group to start was Murray Hunkin, Mark Hourigan, Devin Turetzkin, and Bryan Herrick, the man with the dragon tattoo. Bryan usually rides a 12'6x27 404 v3, but he'd recently bruised it surfing so he rode the shop's 14x26.25 BlkBox UNO. I started in the second group with Athanacio, and Matt Kearney. Justin DiGiorgio went behind us in his own group, intent on breaking his personal best time without the aid of drafting.
The starting sprint for my group was pretty even. I decided to slip behind Athanacio since he seemed fired up to go really fast. I'm not sure how long Matt stayed in our draft train because all my concentration was focused on staying in Athanacio's wake. Athanacio is really fast and also has these surges of acceleration coupled with slight direction changes that are hard to anticipate. He's not easy to draft. I can tell because my heartrate and speed don't change much when we trade drafting positions.
I took my first turn "pulling" the train about 1km into the race, and continued pulling after the first turn-around and up to the 2.5 km mark. Then I slowed down to let Athanacio around and he ended up holding the lead for the rest of the race, not counting when we caught up to Mark Hourigan and both drafted him for a while. In the upper part of the course we both left Mark Hourigan's wake to pass him at the same time, and I thought about trying to pass Athanacio at that time, too. In retrospect I should maybe have made my move right after Athanacio passed Hourigan, since passing drains a person's energy.
Anyway, although I was able to stay on Athanacio's tail through the upriver buoy turn and for the remainder of the race, I just couldn't muster the strength to get around him. When I did try to get around him I actually found myself falling back, as I struggled to push my board over his wake. It helped me relate to the frustration he must have felt when I stuck him in the same position a few times in previous races. To pass someone who is very similar to you in speed, and who doesn't want you to pass, is extremely difficult, especially in a narrow channel where you can't get out to the side of the person. Even though I didn't win first place, I was still happy to get a fast time, and I reckon I got a good workout and learned a lot.
Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race:
Other race intrigues: There were a lot of great performances in this race. Joseph Gladieux looked dialed-in on his 14x24.75 Fanatic Falcon (my old board) and shaved 3 minutes off his previous best time to get a very respectable 43:56. Donna Catron got 44:10, beating her best time by almost a minute and nearly catching her rival Damien Lin, who amazingly got 43:39 despite falling three times from running aground. Devin Turetzkin also fell but still salvaged a personal best 37:44. Matt Kearney had a very solid race with 36:41 on his 14x24 404 v3, but he was edged out by on-fire Justin DiGiorgio, who smashed his personal best with 36:25, riding a 14x24 Hovie Comet ZXC. That's going to put Justin ahead in the series. Dragon Bryan went something like 6 minutes faster on the 14' BlkBox than he'd gone previously on his 12'6 board- Maybe he'll be looking at buying one. Alan Navarro had a great comeback from a long time off the water with one of the faster 12'6 times.
One of the best things about these CGT races is, of course, the lunch social afterwards in the shop. CGT co-owner Aaron Thomas always puts out a good spread.
What's Next: The CGT race team is about to begin an exciting new chapter in our quest for speed. We are beginning a group training program with Mark Athanacio as our coach. It's obvious from Mark's bodybuilder physique and age-defying sup racing dominance that he knows how to train effectively. We'll do 2-3 sessions with him on the water each week, and some of us will also add some strength training. I'll let you know how it goes.