Sunday, December 18, 2016
SUP Race Report: CGT Superlap Series Race #2
Race: Race #2 in the CGT Winter Time Trial series, aka the "Superlap Series" because of a new race format.
Date it happened: 18 December 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 5.3 km / 3.3 miles. The course goes downriver, around a buoy, back upriver to the start, then downriver and back a second time. There's a twist, though: There are two possible turn-around buoys downriver; one further and one closer. You have to do the long route for one lap and the short route for the other lap. It's your choice if you want to do the long or the short lap first, so interesting strategies come into play in competition.
Conditions: It was a warm, humid day with a SE wind. The river level was moderately high and the tide was ebbing, with the current at about 0.75 kph, based on analysis with my paddling in current calculator.
Participants: Though many of the local crew were tired from the previous day's race around Lovers' Key, most of us still showed up, and there were a few more besides. Robert Norman came down from Inverness to race again, and to test the speed of a 14' inflatable raceboard from RedPaddle Co. Justin DiGiorgio was fresh off the airplane from a snowboarding vacation in California and Nevada, but he still made it. Justin's pilot buddy Juan Pena raced for the first time, and there was at least one other first-timer, too. Some people came not to race but for a concurrent board-demo event from Jobe Watersports. It didn't look like my toughest competitor Mark Athanacio was going to race, but the rascal made a late appearance when the rest of us were already 2/3 done.
Gear: I used a 14x23 Riviera RP raceboard with a Riviera Bump 8.0 paddle, and a Fins Unlimited 6" Keel fin.
Results: Mark Athanacio got first with 34:12 on his deadly black 14x21.5 Hovie Comet GT. I was second with 34:15. Phil Trudgeon was third in 38:23, followed closely by Bryan Herrick with a personal best 38:27. (2nd through 4th were all on Riviera RP raceboards.) Robert Norman got 38:47 on the RedPaddle inflatable board; only about 8% slower than he was on his conventional board two weeks ago. Fastest woman was Cindy Gibson in 39:33, followed by Damien Lin in 42:53 and Jen Hayes in 44:39. Of the people who just did one lap, Murray Hunkin was the fastest in 19:08, followed by Justin DiGiorgio in 20:50, and Jared Hamilton in 23:17. 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, Bryan Herrick, and Cindy Gibson. I sprinted into the lead and Murray, on his 14x27 Starboard Allstar, got in my draft. We had to weave through some unaware kayakers shortly after the start, but managed to do so without slowing down. I could definitely feel some cumulative fatigue from the previous day, so I paced myself carefully after the initial sprint. Murray stuck in my draft all the way to the further turn-around buoy, which is where he usually falls and I lose him. But this time we both had clean turns and Murray got back in my draft for the first upriver leg. He doggedly hung in there all the way back to the start/finish line, where I planned to try to sling him off with a quick turn + sprint combination. It turned out that wasn't necessary, though, because Murray bowed out after completing just that first lap.
On the second downriver leg is when I saw Mark Athanacio paddling upriver to start the race late, shattering my hopes for getting an easy first place by default. Would I have paddled harder on the first lap if I'd known Athanacio would be racing? Maybe. But to be honest, I think I was already pushing myself about as hard as my mind and body could stand. So it's tough to say if earlier awareness of my competitor would have pushed me faster or just psyched me out. Anyway, my strategy for the last part of the race stayed the same as before: paddle as hard as possible without blowing up. It's tough to judge how much energy I have left, and it's tough to recover if I burn out my muscles with too much sprinting, but when I got to the final few hundred meters of the race I upped the suffer factor to make sure I was fully spent by the finish. Regardless of whether I placed first or second, I'm happy with my time, which is slightly faster than my time in the first superlap race.
What else is new: This may have been my last SUP session of 2016, since I'm heading to North Carolina for Christmas on the 21st, and then heading to visit inlaws in New Hampshire after that. I'll try to still do some exercise stuff up there so I don't get totally out of shape.