Race: Race #7 in the CGT Summer Time Trial series.
Date it happened: 18 September 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. The tide was moderately low and ebbing, and the river current was a strong 1.55 kph, based on analysis with my paddling in current calculator. I.e., I averaged about 11 kph going downriver and 8 kph going upriver.
Participants: Several of the regulars were absent. For example, Mark Athanacio is vacationing in California, Matt Kearney is doing another SUP race in Key Largo, Justin DiGiorgio is flying to Ireland. Other absences included: Murray Hunkin, Saralane Harrer, Damien Lin, Mark Payne, John Weinberg, Steve Fleming, Jared Hamilton, Mark Hourigan, and Jim McIntyre. Fortunately, stalwarts Bryan Herrick, Devin Turetzkin, and Meg Bosi were there, and they were joined by less frequently seen racers Cindi Gibson, Patricia, Donna Montgomery, Paul Petersen, Mark Nicoletti, and Rudy Ambrosi. Also attending (but filming, not racing) was Justin's friend Juan, who is a licensed pilot and drone operator. Juan got some 4k video that will hopefully be available soon.
Gear: This was my first CGT race on "Minty," my 2017 14x23 Riviera RP. I used my usual Riviera Vantage R8 paddle and a 6" Fins Unlimited keel style fin. Rudy used the 2015 14x25 Riviera that he recently bought from Devin, and Devin used his 12'6x25 Hovie Comet GT. Bryan Herrick used "Fletchy," my older 14x23.75 carbon Riviera, which he has beautifully refinished with a Game of Thrones dragon-themed custom paintjob. Pat, who usually paddles a surfski kayak, boldly entered the SUP arena on a 12'6x26 Riviera RP. Meg Bosi used her 12'6x24 Hovie Comet ZXC, and Cindi used Meg's 11' Boga touring board. Donna Montgomery used a 12'6x26 BlkBox board borrowed from CGT. Mark Nicoletti was the only person on a surf-style board this time. I'm trying to interest Cindi and Donna in my 14x22 "Blue Streak" Riviera, which has recently had a deck repair and is now on the consignment rack CHEAP at CGT. (Call CGT if you're interested. The Blue Streak is still the fastest and truest-tracking flatwater board I've ever paddled.)
Results: I had the fastest time, with 38:27. That is OK for me, but 40 seconds slower than my Race #2 best time of 37:47 on the 14x22 Blue Streak. I haven't been lifting weights or doing Mark Athanacio's training program for the last month, so I might be slowing down because my do-it-yourself workouts are not as effective as his program. The strong current surely played a role, as well. My third excuse is that I got a nasty wasp sting while mowing the lawn yesterday, and had a mild whole-body allergic reaction requiring Benadryl. Second fastest finisher was Devin Turetzkin, with 46:00, just one board length ahead of Rudy's 46:02. Impressive that Devin got 2nd overall even though he was on a 12'6. 4th overall and 3rd 14' finisher was Bryan Herrick in 47:06. Meg Bosi was the fastest woman in 48:19, ahead of Cindi Gibson's 50:55, and Donna Montgomery's 52:30. In the one-lap division Mark Nicoletti cut 2 minutes off his previous best to get 28:04 on his 11' surf style board. Pat got 39:47, which I think is great for an over-50 first-time sup racer on an unfamiliar board. Full results will be posted on the CGT time trials page.
Play by play: The first starting group was Bryan, Rudy, Devin, Donna, and me. Devin and Rudy gave me some good competition on the initial sprint, but I got clear ahead after about 200 meters and didn't look back. The real race action was with Bryan, Devin, and Rudy, who stayed in a tight draft train for most of the race, only dropping Bryan after he fell off his board in the final leg. One thing we know about Devin is that he gets MUCH faster when he's feeling the adrenaline of competition than when he's just paddling with no one else around. There's a reason they call him "Revvin Devin". Anyway, out in front my race was a relatively simple, painful, grind. I backed off from my initial sprint pace to a pace that was aerobically challenging but wouldn't burn out my muscles prematurely. Strategically, I tried to stay in the fast-flowing center of the river channel on the way downriver to the turnaround, and I hugged the slower-flowing edge of the channel on the upriver legs. Compared to the 14x22 "Blue Streak," 14x23 "Minty" turns more readily in response to foot-steering, so I tried to use that to my advantage to make smooth curves around the river bends. By the halfway point I was quite tired and at a wicked high heartrate of 189 bpm. I did my second downriver leg as fast as I could (10.8 kph), but it wasn't as fast as my first sprint-shot downriver (11.3 kph). Oddly my upriver sections didn't vary as much in speed; first was 8.0 kph, second 7.9 kph. I guess my initial sprint is a unique thing that I can't replicate mid-race.
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 hot, hard race.
What's next: Next SUP event is a race clinic with Riviera's top professional rider Ryan Helm, Tuesday evening at CGT. Hope to see some new faces there. Then next weekend there's the Lake Mary Jane race near Orlando. Lake Mary Jane will be the last race of the "Fastest in Florida" points series. It will be tight competition between me and fellow Riviera ambassador Samuel English, because we're both in the running for second place behind Garrett Fletcher. I'll need to finish no more than 1 place behind Sam for the points average from my top 5 races to be higher than the points average from his top 5 races.