Race: Race #6 in the CGT Summer Time Trial series.
Date it happened: 28 August 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: Sunny, very hot and humid. There was some wind from the East that was a minor nuisance on the more open stretches of the river. The river current was 0.75 kph, based on analysis with my paddling in current calculator.
Participants: The usual suspects were present, plus a few newbies, minus Matt Kearney and Bryan Herrick who were in recovery mode after the Sunshine SUP race yesterday.
Gear: I used my 14x22 Riviera RP, the Blue Streak, with my Riviera Vantage R8 paddle and a 6" Fins Unlimited keel style fin. Mark Athanacio went with his newest, narrowest 12'6x22 board. Jim McIntyre and Murray Hunkin checked out demo boards from CGT- a 14x25 Hovie Comet ZXC for Jim, and a 14x25 Riviera RP for Murray. Devin Turetzkin rode his brand new mint-colored 14x23 Riviera RP with a Hippostick 7.5 paddle borrowed from Matt Kearney.
Results: I had the fastest time, with 38:16. Impressively, Athanacio went nearly as fast on his 12'6, finishing in 38:23. Next fastest was Justin DiGiorgio in 42:08, followed by John Weinberg in 45:20. First woman was Damien Lin in 51:01, ahead of new racer Cindy Gibson in 52:43, then Saralane Harrer in 53:38. In the one lap division, Jim McIntyre did his fastest ever with 21:42, and felt so good he did another lap just for the heck of it. Next was Patricia who did 23:33 on her surfski kayak, then Steve Fleming with 24:33 on a Naish sup. Full results will be posted on the CGT time trials page.
Play by play: The first starting group was Devin Turetzkin, Murray Hunkin, and Justin DiGiorgio. Any of those guys could beat the others on a good day. Mark Athanacio and I started in the second group. We were an odd couple because of the board length mismatch, but Mark is so good at sprinting and drafting that, at least in flat water, he can stay in my draft as long as he wants to even when he's on a 12'6. I think Mark's mission this race was to figure out the best standing position and drafting technique with his new 12'6x22. Anyway, we sprinted off the start then settled into a fast pace with me leading the train. It was tough to catch the first starting group, whose initial pace was similar to ours. However, at the first downriver turnaround, 1.5 km into the race, we reeled in Devin. He had fallen back from Murray and Justin's train, and ended up retiring early from the race because he got unexpectedly ill. I hope he perks up soon because I want to see how fast he is on his new 14x23 Riviera. About halfway through the first upriver leg we caught Murray and Justin, who were still together at that point. Justin says Murray got in our draft as we passed, but couldn't hang on, and Justin wasn't able to sprint around Murray to get up to us, though he did pass Murray a little later.
I was quite tired entering the second half of the race, and the heat was unpleasant. Mark offered to pull the draft train but I declined, because I would have felt wimpy to be on a 14' drafting someone on a 12'6. After the final downriver buoy turn, Mark warned me that he would attempt a passing move before the end of the race, and I would have to hold him off. Nothing like a little pressure to keep me paddling hard! When Mark made his first move it was towards the middle of the river, while I was closer to the edge. It wasn't too hard to hold him off then because I was in the lighter current. The next time Mark left my wake, near the finish line, the river was narrower and he had less space to try to get around. So I did manage to cross the finish line first, and I felt like it had been a real good run. My time was about 30 seconds shy of my personal best, which is probably attributable to being tired from the day before, plus the heat, the wind, the river current, random luck, etc.
Here's my GPS track and data from the race. You have to log in to Strava to see the details.
Congrats to everyone who finished this scorching race.
What's next: Next race is the Ocean Warrior Challenge, 11 September in Jupiter, FL. I need to get some rough ocean practice in before then. This week looks good for that, with the Invest 99L tropical disturbance entering the Gulf of Mexico.