Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in downtown Bonita Springs, Florida.
Course / Distance: For this series there are two courses: a short one that goes downriver to a buoy and back (2.9 km), and a longer one that goes downriver to the US 41 bridge and back (6.4 km).
Conditions: It was warm, humid, and hazy, with only a light breeze. The river was flowing at 0.65 kph according to my paddling in current calculator; enough to make a significant difference in speed between the upriver and downriver portions. The water level was moderately high, but as always it paid to avoid the shallower parts of the river.
Participants, Results and gear:
Racer ** Board Class ** Board Width and Model ** Course ** Time
Mark Athanacio ** 14' SUP ** 21.5 Hovie Comet GT ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:40:00
James Douglass ** 14' SUP ** 23 Riviera RP ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:40:44
Murray Hunkin ** 14' SUP ** 27 Starboard AllStar ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:43:42
Devin Turetzkin ** 14' SUP ** 23 Riviera RP ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:43:48
Justin DiGiorgio ** 14' SUP ** 23 Hovie Flatwater ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:44:34
Cindy Gibson ** 12'6" SUP ** 25 Hovie Comet ZXC ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:47:49
John Weinberg ** 14' SUP ** 25 Riviera RP ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:50:00
Ellery Winghart ** 12'6" SUP ** 26 Bote Darkroom ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:50:23
Aaron Wright ** 14' SUP ** 23 Riviera RP ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:51:10
Jen Hayes ** 12'6" SUP ** 22 Hovie Comet GT ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:52:28
Donna Catron ** 12'6" SUP ** 25 Hovie DelMar ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 0:53:50
Saralane Harrer ** 12'6" SUP ** 26 Riviera RP ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 1:04:28
Marlene ** Kayak ** ? ** CGT to 41 Bridge ** 1:04:28
Brian Herrick ** 14' SUP ** 23.75 Riviera RP ** Frankenbouy ** 0:21:32
Rudy Ambrosi ** 14' SUP ** 25 Riviera RP ** Frankenbouy ** 0:22:03
Annika Estelle ** 12'6" SUP ** 25 Starboard AllStar ** Frankenbouy ** 0:26:48
Play by play: We got on the water around 9 am and formed groups for the staggered start. Mark Athanacio and I both wanted to start after the first group, but neither of wanted to start at the same time. I could tell Mark was fired up to kick butt, especially after I'd stolen his spot on the podium at the previous day's race in Miami. For this race he had chosen the very fast 21.5" wide Hovie that he often beats me with. The first starting group ended up being three evenly-matched 14' guys: Murray Hunkin, Devin Turetzkin, and Justin DiGiorgio, plus new guy Aaron Wright. I went in the second group with Cindy Gibson, Bryan Herrick, and I forget who else. Mark Athanacio went in the third group, which mean he'd be chasing me down.
I didn't doing anything special on the paddle downriver; just tried to paddle hard but efficiently. I was getting good GPS speeds because of the river current, and I hoped to build up a fast average speed that would keep my overall average high during the tougher second half of the race. After a few river bends I got in sight of Aaron and chased him down. He has good balance from surfing but he hasn't had enough time doing sup racing yet to dial in his technique and fitness to the level of the other guys. Next I started closing the gap on Murray, Devin, and Justin, who were working together in a nice draft train. I got near them as we were reaching the US 41 bridge at the bottom of the course. Their turns around the bridge piling were on the slow side, which helped me catch their train right after the bridge. It was nice resting in the draft train, and I probably stayed there longer than I should have, helping Athanacio creep up on me. Eventually I saw a good opportunity and busted past the draft train, picking up Murray Hunkin as a follower but not Devin and Justin. Murray stayed with me for a few hundred meters, but dropped off when I sprinted over a shallow area.
A little after losing Murray I noticed a funny "schlurp" "schlurp" noise coming from the tail of my board and saw my speed dropping a bit. I didn't want my race to be screwed by dragging something on my fin, but I didn't want to screw myself by stopping, either. I debated then decided to go ahead and stop. Sure enough, a mangrove leaf drifted loose when I crawled to the back of the board. I saw that Mark Athanacio was real close behind me then, though, which was frustrating. He asked if I was OK because it looked like I had collapsed. I just shouted, "WEEDS!" then got back up and tried to get quickly back to speed. I made OK speed for the rest of the race, but I knew Mark was closing in on me; that he was almost sure to get a faster time and might even pass me despite having started later. I was too tired to fend him off, so he did get around me about 400 meters from the finish. I got in his draft and stayed there so I at least didn't lose any more ground on him after he passed me. My pace during the race was 9.47 kph, which is among my best averages, but Mark's was an incredible 9.64 kph, the fastest pace either of us has ever done in a CGT race. Looks like the bar has been raised!
This is my GPS track from the race.
Murray, Justin, Devin, Cindy, and Ellery also raced very well today, and look to be in great form heading into the busy Florida spring / summer race season. :) Woo hoo!