Clip from the midpoint of the race.
Race: Race #7 in the CGT Winter Time Trial series. This was the final race in this series, and the new series with a different race course will begin on April 2nd.
Date it happened: 19 March 2017.
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 6 km / 3.7 miles. The course goes downriver, around a buoy, back upriver to the start, then downriver and back a second time.
Conditions: It was gorgeous "Oregon Summer" weather, which of course we get in March in Florida. The current was minimal (0.15 kph according to my paddling in current calculator). However, there was a rising breeze from the West that was sometimes a nuisance. The tide level was moderate, but it still paid to avoid the shallow parts of the river.
Participants and Gear: There was a nice group of regulars and newer racers. Ladies included Cindy Gibson (riding Matt Kearney's 12'6x24 Hovie Comet ZXC), Donna Catron (riding CGT's 12'6x26 BlkBox UNO), Meg Bosi (riding a 12'6x25 Bark), and new girl Ellery Winghart (riding a 12'6 Starboard AllStar that looked pretty wide). Men on 14' boards included John Weinberg and Rudy Ambrosi on 14x25 Rivieras, Devin Turetzkin on a 14x23 Riviera, Steve Fleming on a 14x24 Naish Maliko, and Justin DiGiorgio on a 14x23 flatwater-special Hovie custom. >70 year old Will Compton was on an interesting looking home-built board that I think was a 12'6. I broke tradition for this race and used CGT's 12'6x22 Riviera RP instead of my usual 14x23 RP. Matt Kearney used CGT's 12'6x24.5 StarBoard AllStar, Robert Norman used Devin's 12'6x25 Hovie Comet GT, and Mark Athanacio used his 12'6x22 Hovie Comet GT.
Results: I was first 12'6 and overall with 39:11, followed closely by Mark Athanacio's 39:28. Mark probably would have beaten me if he hadn't been tired from a 10 km race on the other side of the state yesterday. Robert Norman edged out Matt Kearney with 41:02 to 41:07. Justin DiGiorgio set a personal record of 41:26, making him the fastest 14' board ahead of Devin Turetzkin's 42:10. Cindy Gibson was the fastest woman by a lot with 42:35, followed by Meg Bosi 46:17, Ellery Winghart 47:40, and Donna Catron (49:01). Will Compton was 3rd 14' board with 45:37, just edging out younger John Weinberg's 45:41. Rudy Ambrosi made a solid return from a long time off paddling with 46:24. Official results may be posted at some point on the CGT Time Trials page.
Play by play: The first starting group was the fast 14s; Justin and Devin. Next to line up were the fired-up 12'6s; Cindy, Matt, Robert, and me. The boys all charged hard and we kind buried poor Cindy in our overlapping wakes, such that she didn't have much chance to join our draft train. I was really worried about staying clear of the wakes myself, since on my small narrow board they would mess me up more than usual. I had put my own, big, weed-shedding fin on the board, though, which was my secret weapon to stabilize it and allow me to paddle in a straighter line with less nervous stability. I.e., with the big fin the 12'6 handled more like the 14 that I'm used to. I managed to get in first position in the draft train of me, Robert, and Matt, and transitioned from sprinting to just fast race pace. Mentally I was fired up by the challenge and excitement of trying the new board, and I wanted to really kick Robert and Matt's butts to show them that my brand of Riviera boards is superior in all board sizes. I do think the 2.5-3" narrower width of my 12'6 gave me an advantage over Matt and Robert, allowing the board to knife through the water with less resistance.
At some point on the way to the first downriver turn-around the splashing sounds behind me diminished and I knew I'd dropped the young dudes. Matt says it happened going around a turn when Robert was looking at the nose of his own board and didn't manage to match the arc of his turn to mine. The dudes were still close behind me when I saw them after making my buoy turn, so I knew I wasn't out of the woods. I made a point to sprint hard out the turn to get back to race speed as quickly as possible, not wanting to let the "average speed" readout on my GPS drop below 9.something kph. On the way upriver I stayed motivated working to catch up with Devin and Justin, which I eventually did. I got in Devin's wake, which provided a chance to partially recover from the hard pace of the first leg. Devin was falling out of Justin's draft, though, so I passed him and with some difficulty caught up with Justin. Justin was going pretty fast and making a really nice wake, so I got another little rest there. I wanted to push for the fastest possible time, though, to try to match Mark Athanacio, who I knew would be starting later on his own fast 12'6x22.
When I passed Justin heading upriver to the midpoint/startline, he got in my draft and stayed with me until the midpoint turn-around. My short 12'6 board helped me do a tighter turn than him at the buoy, and I sprinted to drop him from my draft. I didn't feel good starting the second lap, so I used the trick of concentrating on technique to forget how tired I was. Though I couldn't keep up a super fast pace the whole time, I made a point of briefly "spurting" at key points that might have otherwise slowed me down, for example corners, shallow spots, and windy patches. My second downriver buoy turn was on the ugly side, but I stayed dry and endeavored to empty the tank on the way upriver. The going felt slow, but I continued my spurting strategy, and in the last ~500 meters went up to an unsustainably hard pace. I was happy to finish with an average speed of 9.07 kph, which is good for a 12'6.
This is my GPS track from the race.
Justin was next over the line and I was stoked that he'd gotten a personal best and stayed ahead of the Robert-Matt duo. Robert and Matt were drafting each other until near the end, when they broke into a fierce sprint battle. Robert, who is like a rubberband-ball of muscle got the edge on Matt, who is also no slouch at sprinting but may have been tired from leading the draft train more. Cindy wasn't too far behind Matt and Robert, and her time was an incredible 2 minutes faster than her previous race record, probably because of her newly practiced buoy turning skills and finally being on a board close to narrow enough to proportionally suit her. Well done, Cindy.
After the race we did some playing around on the water, and I encouraged Cindy to try the 12'6x22 Riviera. She did, and I could hardly keep up with her.
What else is new: I got a new windsurf sail that I'm going to go try this afternoon. It's a nice 6.8 Aerotech Phantom, which replaces a 6.4 that Bryan Herrick pierced with his body during a catapulting wipeout in overpowered conditions two weeks ago. (Bryan generously compensated me for the value of the sail so I could buy a new one. Also, it looks like he's about to buy a 122 liter JP Xcite Ride board for his reintroduction to windsurfing, so I'll have another buddy on the water for the windy days. Woo hoo!