Sunday, November 20, 2016

SUP Race Report: CGT Series 2016 Final

Race: Race #9 (the last one) in the CGT Summer Time Trial series.

Date it happened: 20 November 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: Approximately 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 several people took that option this time.

Conditions: The morning was cold by Florida standards, long-pants weather, with a North wind blowing. The river current was moderate, about 0.7 kph, based on analysis with my paddling in current calculator. Is hasn't rained for about a month, so the freshwater input to the river has gone way down.

Participants: There was a great turnout with a mix of the regular racers and some first-time racers. On the womens' side, Beth Schadd was back from her summer in Idaho and paddling a new 12'6x24 Riviera RP. Donna Catron and Jen Hayes were on 12'6 Hovies, Meg Bosi on a 12'6 Bark, and Cindy Gibson on the 14x22 "Blue Streak" Riviera that I sold her a while back. Saralane Harrer paddled with one large dog on her board, and Damien Lin with two dachsunds on hers. (Damien had done a 12 km race in Miami the previous day.) Patricia tried out her new BOTE board for the first time. On the men's side, "Superman" Robert Norman drove down from central Florida with his 14x21 MHL custom board and his charming beau Carigon. A guy who was visiting from New Jersey raced on a rented Riviera. Two dudes were on Naish raceboards- Steve Fleming and teenage Tadem Stewart. Mark Athanacio had done the Miami race the day before, so he wasn't in full competitive mode, but he used opportunity to test out his new 12'6x23 custom Hovie, which has rough-water / all-around design with a concave hull similar to the Starboard Allstar. Mark Payne showed up with his 18' long unlimited SUP, but ended up swapping boards with Justin DiGiorgio and paddling Justin's 14x24 Hovie Comet GT. Matt Kearney was on a 12'6x24 Hovie Comet ZXC, Mark Nicoletti on a 12'6 Boga. Devin Turetzkin and I were both on 14x23 Riviera RP boards, and Bryan Herrick was on a custom 14x23.75 Riviera. Murray Hunkin was on his 14x27 Starboard Allstar.

Results: I had the fastest time in the 14' sup class, with 38:23, followed by Robert Norman in 40:06. Mark Athanacio was fastest 12'6 with 40:20. Cindy Gibson was the fastest woman, and set a personal best time of 43. something. Full results will be posted on the CGT Time Trials page.

Here's my GPS track and data from the race. You have to log in to Strava to see the details.

Play by play: I started in the first group, with Murray Hunkin, Devin Turetzkin, and Tadem Stewart. We were all about the same speed off the line, but I stayed in clear water and angled into the lead after 100 meters or so. Murray got in my draft, and I think the other guys got behind him. I did my best to set a fast-but-sustainable pace, but I felt slightly out of tune physically. I had lingering symptoms from a cold earlier in the week, and sore muscles from doing an awkward bench press test on Friday at Dr. Jose Antonio's sports physiology lab in Ft. Lauderdale. (Matt Kearney and I were both there participating in a new study. More on that later.) My pace wasn't fast enough to drop Murray. He stayed on me all the way downriver to the turn-around buoy, but he fell rounding the buoy so I dropped him that way. Heading upriver I didn't doing anything super special, but I did try to strategically pick the parts of the river offering the best shelter from headwinds and currents, or if that wasn't possible, the deepest water and the most direct path.

Race director Nick Paeno announced my split time as 19 minutes when I reached the start/finish line at the end of the first lap. I knew I'd need to maintain that pace for the second half in order to get an overall time on par with my 38.something average for the series. Seeing Robert Norman charging hard at the lead of the second group of starters also helped me stay motivated. That guy is only 23, and strong and agile as Bruce Lee, so I reckon it's just a matter of time before he starts beating everyone. Anyway, to go fast on the second downriver part I thought fast thoughts. I tried to "feel" my paddle grabbing the water and my board sliding forward, and I willed the wind to push at my back. On the final upriver leg I focused more on forcing my body to work harder, knowing that the end was coming and that I should use up every drop of energy remaining. It seemed to work OK, and I was happy to finish with the time I got. Murray was next to cross the line, and he looked like he was still paddling well. I think he had a good race despite the one fall. Robert Norman seemed to have pulled ahead of the guys who had been near him before the second lap, and he was really flying at the finish. Beth Schadd also had a charging sprint finish, with a rapid cadence and more effective looking paddling style than I remember her having last season. Maybe she practiced in Idaho. Bryan Herrick, who has changed up his training to focus more on injury-reducing recovery and developing a strong endurance base, reaped the rewards of his training by improving on his previous best time by nearly a minute, and averaging a very respectable 8.4 kph over the entire race.

After the race we tried out some of each others' toys. I got a kick out of paddling Mark Payne's long unlimited board. It didn't accelerate very well, but it could cruise at high speed with a little less effort than would be required on a 14' board. I also got on Mark Athanacio's 12'6x23 custom all-water Hovie, and I really liked the feel of it. Light and efficient feeling but remarkably stable, perhaps because of the very wide tail and concave hull design. It will be interesting to see how Mark does on it at the next rough water race. Robert Norman bought a 12'x19 Riviera prone paddleboard from CGT and tried it out while we all watched and commented. His first move was tip it over and immediately fall off, then he ran it into the bushes, but pretty soon he had it going like he sort of knew what he was doing. Then he impressed us by standing up on it and using a paddle like it was a standup paddleboard. It was obviously very tippy, but just the fact that he could stand up on it at all was pretty impressive. Since Robert doesn't live near the ocean, we're speculating that he could use the prone paddleboard as a rough water simulator sup, since it's as hard to balance on in flat water as a normal board would be in very rough seas.

When we got off the water we had the great buffet at CGT, enhanced by some exotic dishes brought in by healthy chefs Bryan Herrick and Cindy Gibson. Never heard of avocado pudding before. Good times.

What's next: It looks like the next big SUP race won't be until after the holidays, but I'll keep up with the thrice-weekly workouts that coach Mark Athanacio assigns, and try to do some race-length paddles like more Lovers' Key roundings. Hopefully we'll get some good wind and waves for surfing and windsurfing, too.

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