Race: Race #4 in the CGT Summer Time Trial series.
Date it happened: 24 July 2016.
Host: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards, which you can become a groupie of by joining the CGT Tribe facebook page.
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in downtown Bonita Springs, Florida.
Distance: 5.96 km / 3.7 miles. The course goes downriver ~1.5 km, around a permanent buoy, back upriver to the start, then around an inflatable buoy and downriver again for a second lap. There is an option to do just one lap (~2.97 km), and a few people took that option this time.
Conditions: Hot and humid, despite some cloud cover for the first 20 minutes of the race. The river level was high and the current was significant at 0.95 kph, based on analysis with my paddling in current calculator.
Participants: There were 12 racers; 3 women and 9 men, which is pretty good for a Sunday morning the day after another exhausting race. All the women and 9 of the men did the longer 2 lap race, while the remaining 3 men did one lap. Though some of the regulars were absent, we got new blood in the form of two fit teenagers, Kaydi Archer and Tadem Stewart.
Gear: I used my 14x22 Riviera RP, the Blue Streak, with my Riviera Vantage R8 paddle and a 6" Fins Unlimited keel style fin. I loaned my 14x23.75 Riviera RP, Fletchy, to Bryan Herrick, who is probably going to buy it. Devin Turetzkin went from 12'6 back to his 14x25 Riviera for this race. Justin DiGiorgio is waiting for a new custom Hovie to arrive, and in the meantime raced the shop's 14x25 Riviera. Kaydi Archer rode a 12'6 Riviera, I'm not sure what width. Tadem Stewart was on a 14x27 Yolo with a non-weedless fin. Jen Hayes and Mark Athanacio were on Hovie Comet GT's- Jen on 12'6x24 and Mark on 14x21.5.
Results: In the one lap division Mark Athanacio overcame a bad cold to do a blazingly fast 18:42. He would have beaten his 2-lap course record had he done another lap at that pace. Rounding out the 1 lap division were Justin DiGiorgio with 20:12 and Bryan Herrick with 21:38. In the two lap division Damien Lin was the fastest lady with a personal best 48:06. Jen Hayes also had a good run with 49:36, followed by Kaydi Archer in 51:02. I was the fastest 2-lap guy with 38:01, followed by Devin Turetzkin's 42:29 and John Weinberg's 44:28. Devin and John's times were both personal bests, and faster than young Tadem Stewart's 44:34. Nice! Tadem is going to have to step it up if he wants to catch us old guys. First thing he needs to do is get a weed-shedding fin so he's not dragging a birdnest of leaves and pine needles around the course. Full results will be posted on the CGT time trials page.
Play by play: I started with Devin, Bryan, and Jen. Devin had a really fast start and his bow was ahead of mine for a bit before he got behind me to draft. Bryan who is making the awkward transition from 27" wide to 23.75" wide board wobbled in our wakes at the starting line and lost touch with Devin and me. I never looked back, but I could tell from the splashing sounds that Devin drafted me for a little while, then dropped off. On the first leg of the race I focused on pacing, form, and making the most of the river current. After the downriver buoy turn I saw that Athanacio, who started in the second group, was already catching Devin, but Devin was well ahead of Bryan. For the first upriver leg I increased my cadence and changed my focus from staying IN the current to staying OUT of the current. I was actually feeling OK physically, heart rate not too high yet, and I enjoyed being able to think about form and strategy instead of just suffering. Rounding the upriver buoy and beginning the second lap I started pushing harder to compensate for being more tired. I saved my maximum effort for the final upriver leg, which is where I really started to top out with respect to heartrate and feelings of exhaustion. It felt great when the race was over, and I was pleased with my official time, which was a couple seconds faster than last time, though not a course record or a personal best.
Coach Athanacio says it's dangerous as a competitor to share too many specifics about your own performance and training, because it can inform opponents who might capitalize on that information to beat you in the next race. For example, most pros wouldn't share their speeds / times / heartrates like I do on my blog and on Strava. But since I'm coming at SUP racing more from a geeky hobbyist perspective than from a pure competitor's perspective, I'll probably continue to keep my performance record open for whoever wants to geek out along with me. With that in mind, here's my GPS track and data from the race. You have to log in to Strava to see the details.
After the race we had a good little buffet/party at CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards. The race team members (including me) paid our dues for another month of training with Mark Athanacio. We decided that we're going to hold our practices rain-or-shine, doing gym work when lightning keeps us off the water. We also committed to working on our weaknesses. I could probably benefit from working on race skills like beach starts, buoy turns, getting in and staying in fast draft trains, passing, holding off people trying to pass me, and not fading in longer races. I also need to learn how to be fast in rough water and wind.