Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Very Windy Session with 3.5 Sail

My smallest windsurfing sail is 3.5 meters squared. Mostly it collects mildew at the bottom of the pile in my van, since to use it requires exceptionally strong wind. But Saturday we had exceptionally strong NW wind in SW Florida, and I got to use the sail for an unprecedented two hours of uninterrupted major wind power. It was totally bananas. I wore my helmet with a GoPro camera mount and took the film for this video. The song is by The Prodigy.

Very Windy Day 1-23-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

I extracted this still from the video because I thought it was cool how it showed my shadow during a jump. Makes me want to get out there again and try to go higher next time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wavesup with Angulo Surfa 10'4 and Exocet WindSUP 10'2

The other day I paddled in the waves with my windsurf buddy Alex. He has a cool new board- an Exocet WindSUP 10'2, which is pretty similar in dimensions and design intent to my modified Angulo Surfa 10'4. I.e., it's intended to be a maneuverable mid-sized SUP board that also functions as a full-planing windsurf board. I had never tried Alex's board before, but he let me try it that day. I liked it. It was a little more nimble and quick to accelerate than my reconfigured Angulo, but also a little less stable and less forgiving of sloppy takeoffs and such, perhaps due to the narrower nose and tail. I was relieved that my own jerry-rigged board compared pretty favorably to the latest and greatest WindSUP... at least in paddle mode. I'd still like to try Alex's board with a sail sometime.

Surf SUP 1-15-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

SUP Race Report- CGT Winter Race #3

I always take too long writing these SUP race reports when I should be prepping for the work week, so I'm going to try to do this one FAST.

Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #3
Date it happened: 24 January 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.11 km
Conditions: Cool weather (~14C), moderate river current (~1km)
Participants: Good crew of the usual CGT race team folks, plus a couple other local racers and a newbie or two
Results: I was the fastest 14' SUP, John Wheeler was the fastest 12'6 SUP, Meg Bosi was the fastest woman, Katrina Best was the fastest new racer, and Mark Athanacio was by far the fastest over 50 years old. Justin DiGiorgio got a personal best time and beat Matt Kearney (who is fast) by almost a minute. Phil Trudgeon who has a canoe-racing background came within two seconds of beating Devin Turetzkin who has a jetski racing background. Damien Lin and Donna Catron used drafting advantageously to narrow the gap on speedy snowbird Beth Schadd. Full results are on the CGT TIME TRIALS page

Gear: Since my new board "Fletchy" is getting a facelift, I used one of the shop's demo boards- a 14' x 25.5" 404 v3 carbon with a Stavron fin. It's a nice setup that has stability to spare but is still fast. The 404 v3 boards are really good for dealing with "race situations" like drafting, passing, and handling the rough water at the start. Their noses are low and pointy enough that you can make use of the board's whole waterline to get good glide at cruising speed, yet they have enough width and bluntness that they can also skim across the water in sprint. CGT has a few lightly used ones for good prices. There's the one I rode today, plus a ultra light custom 14x25.75 version that Justin DiGiorgio just put on consignment because he switched to a 14x24 Hovie. Mark Athanacio rode Justin's consignment 404 today because the Hovie Comets he has on order haven't arrived yet.

Play by play: I started in the first group of four with Murray Hunkin, Mark Athanacio, and Mark Hourigan. All of us are close enough in speed that we can form a good draft train, although I don't think Hourigan follows closely enough to actually benefit from the draft- he just keeps pace because he's fast. Murray is on a 14x27 Riviera and Hourigan is on a 14x25 Riviera. Today Murray sprinted hard at the start and I got behind him, followed by Athanacio and Hourigan. Murray averaged 10.4 kph for the first 800 m. That's pretty darn fast, even considering that the current was helping. At about 800 m Murray let me pass so he could take a turn drafting. I pulled for about 800 m, too, then Athanacio took the lead by turning tighter than me at the downriver turn around. I was happy to ride his draft while he did the hard work of pulling against the current. On the way up to the midpoint we slowed down to let Hourigan pull for a while. My memory is fuzzy regarding what draft train negotiations happened after that, but I know that I got in front again before we reached the midpoint, and then Athanacio and I on our 404s broke away from Murray and Hourigan. I was feeling pretty fresh from not having pulled much up to that point, so I just kept a steady pace and did my usual latter-portion-of-race strategy of not giving Athanacio any chances to pass, and finishing like 1 second ahead of him.

Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race. If you go into strava you can see interesting ups and downs in speed and heartrate corresponding with going with vs. against the current and drafting vs. pulling.

Pictures: Pending

PS: After the race Matt Kearney, Devin Turetzkin, and I took surf sups to Wiggins Pass and rode some pretty nice waves. Then the breeze came up and I put a sail on my Exocet WindSUP 11'8. Nice. :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Neptunalia Challenge paddle race report

Sunday I went to the Neptunalia Challenge paddlecraft race in Indian Harbour Beach, near Cape Canaveral, Florida. Actually I drove over Saturday night and split a room at the Days Inn Melbourne with Mike Hammond, a SW Florida SUP racer who has the cool day job of managing and promoting Lee County's "Calusa Blueway" network of paddle trails. We were apprehensive about the race because the weather forecast was horrible for paddling: Very strong SW - NW winds with thunderstorms and rain. Fortunately the worst of the storms passed through in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and it was clearing (but still windy) when race check-in began. The weather might have dissuaded a few people, but there was still a large crowd of eager racers at Oars and Paddles Park. There were three different race distances (3, 6, and 10 miles) and all sorts of different vessel and age divisions, so there was something appealing for everyone. The race committee did a good job of picking courses that would be challenging but not simply grueling. For example, the originally-planned 10 mile course would have been half in the open water of the Banana River Lagoon and half in a canal system parallel to the lagoon. Because of the wind they put more of the course in the canal, but they kept enough in the Lagoon to make it interesting.

Something this race did that I had never seen done before was have two separate versions of the 10-mile race; one with prize money that cost $75 to enter (the "Kraken"), and one without prize money that cost $40 to enter (the "Dragon"). Only the top three in the Kraken would get prize money. Since both races were to be scored equally in the 2016 "Fastest in Florida" points series, and since the registration list for the Kraken looked stacked with at least three better-than-me paddlers, I decided to save my money and sign up for the Dragon instead. I would prefer that they not do this money/no-money thing again because it was awkward deciding which version of the race to register for. Based on times alone I was wise to do the Dragon, because I was first in that and would have been 5th in the Kraken. But I was kind of sad that I didn't get to start at the same time as the Kraken racers because I would have liked to try to get in the draft trains with the fastest guys. (They started the Dragon about a minute after the Kraken.) Also, if I had entered the men's 12'6 class in the Kraken I would have been guaranteed $150 third place because only two guys entered that.

One thing that was cool about this race was that they actually brought podium blocks for us to stand on. I think this is the first time in my life I've gotten to stand on top of a podium block. 2nd and 3rd are Stephen Chase and Steven Bernstein, respectively. John Sekas would actually be second place based on his faster time than the Stevens, but he was first place in the 50+ division instead.
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Full race results are posted on Webscorer, but I've posted just the times from the 10 mile (15.57 km on my GPS) races here:

Name Category Time Race Version
Rob Mirlenbrink Kayak 1:16:52.8 Dragon
Nathan Humberston Kayak 1:18:02.3 Dragon
Flavio Costa Kayak 1:19:10.5 Dragon
Randy Taylor Kayak 1:19:25.7 Dragon
Robert Silvernail Outrigger Canoe 2-person 1:23:12.3 Dragon
Kim Watson Outrigger Canoe 2-person 1:23:51.6 Dragon
Jason Malick Kayak 1:29:59.0 Dragon
William Schaet Kayak 1:31:07.7 Dragon
David Rush Outrigger Canoe 1:33:24.4 Dragon
Max Schafer Kayak 1:34:08.8 Dragon
Karen Mirlenbrink Kayak 1:35:59.8 Dragon
Kieran Grant SUP 14 Male 1:37:39.8 $Kraken
Connor Bonham SUP 14 Male 1:37:40.7 $Kraken
Mark Nye Kayak 1:38:59.3 Dragon
Josh Smart SUP 14 Male 1:39:09.4 $Kraken
Samuel English SUP 14 Male 1:39:11.3 $Kraken
James Douglass SUP 14 Male 1:40:00.7 Dragon
Reid Hyle SUP 14 Male 1:41:17.7 $Kraken
John Sekas SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:42:46.9 Dragon
Stephen Chase SUP 14 Male 1:43:05.6 Dragon
Joey Huempfner SUP 12'6 Male 1:43:17.9 $Kraken
Steven Bernstein SUP 14 Male 1:43:20.3 Dragon
Rand Perkins SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:44:57.5 Dragon
Billy Miller SUP 14 Male 1:44:59.6 $Kraken
Travis Kindt SUP 14 Male 1:45:00.9 Dragon
David Dean SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:46:30.7 Dragon
Scott Roche Outrigger Canoe 1:46:42.1 Dragon
Kimberly Barnes SUP 12'6 Female 1:46:53.6 $Kraken
Seychelle Hattingh SUP 12'6 Female 1:46:55.2 $Kraken
Cristian Prado SUP 14 Male 1:47:36.7 $Kraken
Murray Hunkin SUP 14 Male 1:48:11.0 $Kraken
Keith Cook SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:50:07.7 Dragon
Victoria Burgess SUP 12'6 Female 1:51:23.2 $Kraken
Aleksandra Malinska SUP 12'6 Female 1:51:24.8 $Kraken
Matt Henderson SUP 14 Male 1:51:54.6 Dragon
Adam Pollock SUP Unlimited 1:52:08.5 Dragon
Kim Hillhouse SUP 14 Female 1:52:51.3 Dragon
Chip Bock SUP 14 Male 1:53:19.9 $Kraken
MAB MAB SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 1:53:28.0 Dragon
Dean Weihnacht Outrigger Canoe 1:53:46.4 Dragon
Mark Miller SUP 12'6 Male 1:54:05.7 $Kraken
Dave Merkli SUP Unlimited 1:54:24.7 Dragon
Cat Uden SUP 12'6 Female 1:54:40.9 Dragon
Karl Eugster SUP 12'6 Male 50+ 1:54:45.8 Dragon
Carolina Seth-Smith SUP 12'6 Female 1:56:42.7 $Kraken
Meg Bosi SUP 12'6 Female 2:00:13.8 Dragon
Rachel Ferguson SUP 12'6 Female 2:01:07.3 Dragon
Chris Burrough SUP 14 Male 50+ 2:01:13.3 Dragon
Lisa Hertz Prone Female 2:02:17.0 Dragon
Ron Jones SUP 14 Male 2:02:17.3 Dragon
NESSA BRUNTON SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 2:06:40.5 Dragon
Robin Moran SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 2:07:53.0 Dragon
Lew Pavlovich SUP 14 Male 50+ 2:26:11.2 Dragon

Here is my GPS data from the race:

And here's the story from my perspective:

The start was at the Banana River Drive bridge, which goes over the narrow southern end of the Banana River Lagoon. The first leg went north along the west side of the lagoon. I put in a moderate sprint at the start and figured I'd try to draft anyone who got out ahead of me. But it turned out I was at the front of the Dragon group, so I just picked a distance from shore that I thought had the fastest water and tried to paddle well. The wind and current were both somewhat at our backs, so there was no need to hug the shoreline too closely on that leg.

At about 3.5 km we came to the buoy that marked where we had to cut East across the lagoon to enter the canal system. The lagoon had widened enough there that the chop was significant, and it was tricky paddling straight east when the wind and waves wanted to push us northeast. Like a lot of people I let myself get a little too far north of the canal entrance and had to paddle against the wind a bit to make it in. I also fell in there, but got back on quickly enough that it didn't cost me any positions. My close competitor Stephen Chase (who schooled me in the Race Around Palm Island) fell several times in the same area. That was a bummer for him but it took some pressure off of me.

Entering the canals I caught up with some guys from the Kraken group that had started earlier. First was teenager Joey Huempfner- but we couldn't draft each other because he was on 12'6. Next I tracked down a guy with good looking long hair and a beard like Jesus. He was on a 14' JP board, and since he was hard to catch I figured it would help both of us to work together for a while. Jesus said his name was Billy. We traded pulling / drafting as we worked our way north in the canal, and we made it our goal to catch a guy in a bright yellow shirt who was ahead of us. That was hard, because the yellow-shirt guy was champion kayaker turned SUP'er Reid Hyle. (I actually went to graduate school with Reid at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Now he works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I remember Reid as the guy with the huge arms who I would see zipping across Chesapeake Bay on his kayak at about the same speed I was going on my windsurf.)

Billy and I still hadn't quite caught Reid when we got to the turn-around buoy at the north end of the canal. I tried to whip a fast turn and really put the pedal to metal to catch Reid, because we were going against the wind at that point and I didn't want to have to do the whole upwind journey without a drafting boost. I did catch Reid, but dropped Billy in the process. Reid had a good strategy of staying very close to the upwind side of the canal, as out of the wind as possible. We traded pulling/drafting equitably, which made the long canal section pass relatively painlessly.

The hardest part of the whole course was exiting the canal and paddling straight upwind into the Lagoon for a short, rough final section south to the Banana River Drive Bridge then East into a side canal to Oars and Paddles Park. Just after making it upwind into the Lagoon I fell off on the lee side of my board, and the 20+ knot wind actually flipped the board through the air over my head and dropped it downwind of me. I got back on and paddled mincingly towards the Banana River Drive bridge where folks were standing taking pictures. The wind had shifted from SW to NW so it was kind of pushing us south to the bridge, but also kind of pushing us into the docks along the shore. I ducked my head under the bridge and tried to keep pace with Reid into the canal. I knew I didn't need to beat him to beat his time, but I didn't want to finish way far behind him either, so I dutifully sprinted. Reid had an interesting way of sprinting with one foot far in front of the other. His board is a custom model with a raceboard nose but quite a bit of rocker and a surf-style tail. I bet he'd be even faster on a pure raceboard.

Besides how my race went, there were as many interesting race tales as there were racers. I can't possibly tell all those tales here, but a couple of cool things I saw were:

1. Strong performances by the winners of the Kraken race. On the men's side Kieran Grant, Connor Bonham, Josh Smart, and Samuel English all started great and were in a draft train up to the first buoy. But at the buoy Kieran and Connor used their surfing skills to take a tight turn, dropping Josh and Samuel who turned wider. The two pairs were then separated for the whole rest of the race; Kieran and Connor fighting for first and Josh and Samuel fighting for third. All four of those guys are real impressive athletes. It's interesting that even though most of the race was in sheltered waters, how racers handled the short bits in rough water was the decisive factor for many. Skill, strategy, and experience keeping the pedal to the floor amidst chaotic conditions was key. On the womens' side there was a similar pattern where Kim Barnes, Seychelle Hattingh, Victoria Burgess, and Alexsandra Malinska were together for the first part but then split into two pairs. Kim and Seychelle's times were particularly impressive, and there are some great pictures of them duking it out to the finish.

Kieran Grant vs. Connor Bonham.

Kim Barnes vs. Seychelle Hattingh.

2. Gutsy battles in the middle of the pack and for division-specific victories. 50+ John Sekas showed his speed and experience by finishing close behind me and edging out the incredible Rand Perkins, whose great speed in the flat parts didn't quite make up for his trouble in the turns and rougher sections. Stephen Chase gutted it out after his falls and held off Steven Bernstein by a few seconds for a strong finish. My teammate Meg Bosi got second in her division in the Dragon. My other teammate Murray Hunkin had a quick time, too, even though he's quite new to standup. Murray's sweetheart Saralane Harrer, who has even less experience on a sup, showed that she's a quick learner by winning her division in the 3 mile race. Also, there was a guy who did one of the shorter races with a large dog sitting on the nose of his board, and another guy who did it with his young son sitting on the nose.

I need to get this post up soon and don't want to spend tons of time fiddling with pictures, so I'm just going to embed some pictures from other folks' facebook albums. Dr. Jose Antonio and his spouse took a bunch of good ones. Dr. Antonio is the guy who is doing the study of the effects of a high protein diet on sup racers.

SUPs, OCs, and surfskis battled the winds and some chop. Felt like a CAT 1 hurricane. Check out the sequence photos of...

Posted by Jose Antonio on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Quick Wavesailing Video

Earlier this week was the first good NW wind in a long while. I got out for a windsurfing session at Wiggins Pass State Park. I really like how my 6.4 KA sail works with my 106 liter Exocet Cross and 26 cm MUFin wave fin. It's just the right mix of power and looseness for onshore wind wavesailing in moderate strength winds. I just wish I got to use that setup more often! The song clip in the video is by the Arctic Monkeys.

Wiggins 1-10-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rand Perkins- 63 years old and can still kick your butt by a lot

Most people who SUP know about legendary Canadian Olympic Canoeist Larry Cain, who at 53 is now a professional-level SUP racer (and great blogger). But every SUP paddler should also know about an another amazing character- North Carolinian Rand Perkins, who is a stunningly-fast elite SUP racer at 63. There is a great article on Mr. Perkins, and how he got so good, on supconnect.com.

63 year old Rand Perkins at 2015 Florida State Paddleboard Championships.
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I've been in two races with Rand Perkins and both times he kicked my butt by a lot. The first time was in January 2015 at the CGT kayaks winter race #1 on the Imperial River. He averaged 9.38 kph compared with my 8.8 kph. (Over the past year of training and tweaking my equipment I've gotten a little closer to Rand Perkins' speed in the Imperial River, but I'm not there yet.) Not long after Rand crashed our CGT race he kicked my butt again at the 2015 Florida State Paddleboard Championships. There he averaged compared 9.0 kph compared with my 8.73 kph. He would have been even further ahead but he started late and had a slow turn at the halfway point. It's unusual to be passed by a SUP racer once you have a good lead on them, but if the guy behind you is Rand Perkins, there's no safe distance you can be ahead. He will get you. And when you try to catch his wake as he passes, good luck keeping up.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Zumba training + New paddleboard = High speed

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I had a great Christmas break with my family in Asheville, NC, then later in Hudson, NH with my in-laws. I made a point of exercising a few times during my 10 days away, in hopes that it would keep me fit for SUP racing. My mom and sister are both "Zumba" dance-aerobics instructors, so naturally part of my exercise was practicing some moves with them in kitchen at my parents' house. I'm a pretty bad dancer, but by my standards I felt like I was doing alright.

Wife and daughter tutoring son in Zumba on morning after Christmas.

Posted by Johnny Douglass on Saturday, December 26, 2015

Shortly after returning to Florida I did a local SUP race on my Fanatic Falcon 14 x 24.75" board (which is for sale), and just managed to squeak out a win over fierce competitor Mark Athanacio. That may be the last time I race on the Fanatic, because I now have a NEW BOARD. Actually, it's only new to me- I got it secondhand from "fastest in Florida" sup racer Garrett Fletcher.

This is a picture of Garrett riding the board in a race last summer. Now Garrett is sponsored by a different board brand, Yolo boards.
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The board is a custom carbon Riviera, 14' x 23.75" and very light around 9.5 kg. I'm calling it "Fletchy" after the previous owner. Fletchy has a few little scratches and dings on it that have been repaired, but overall it's in pretty sweet condition. I paid $1500 which I felt was a fair deal. I need to make sure I take good care of it by always transporting it in the board bag. (The black bottom heats up in the sun and could get warped if I'm not careful.)

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So far I have paddled Fletchy three times: twice in the Imperial River and once going around Lovers' Key.

The first time in the Imperial River I used it for one of the CGT team's Tuesday "intervals" workouts- 6 x 800 m with 3 minute rests. It was a windy day, the water in the river was low, and I often tangled with my teammates, overhanging tree branches, etc. Unsurprisingly I didn't get any personal best times (I keep track in a spreadsheet so I can compare). But I did get one 800 + 800 in under 10 minutes, which is a great for me, so I could tell Fletchy was fast. The light weight was also apparent, especially when accelerating or doing a turn. I think the wind blows Fletchy around more than a heavier board, though, so I'll have to adapt to that. Compared to the 14' x 25" Riviera that I used to ride (Whitey), 23.75" wide Fletchy is less stable, but hopefully still stable enough to handle any water conditions. Compared to Whitey, Fletchy has more rocker, meaning the nose rises off the water a bit when paddling hard. The extra rocker should help in rough water by encouraging the board to bob over waves rather than burying into them. Fletchy's nose is also a little wider and more voluminous than Whitey's needle-like nose, which may also help in rough water.

The second time in the Imperial River we did 3 x 2000 m intervals. We control for the upriver/downriver factor in those intervals by doing a hairpin turn and reversing direction at the 1000 m mark. The first one we did at moderate warmup pace, 14:39, 8.19 kph. The second one I went all out and got a personal best 12:26, 9.65 kph. Fletchy has great glide and seems to reward long-reaching, powerful strokes. On the last one I gave Devin Turetzkin a headstart and tried to reel him in. Although I caught up with him relatively easily, he switched into competitive high gear when he saw me, and held me off for quite a while before I could squeeze around to finish in 12:38, 9.5 kph. Devin certainly lives up to his nickname, "Revin Devin," which he acquired as a professional jetski racer in the 1980s. PS- he was riding a 14 x 25 Riviera similar to Whitey but with a bit more rocker.

By the third time I paddled Fletchy I knew it worked great for short-distance flat water stuff, but I didn't know if it would be fast over longer distances with varied water conditions. So I was happy for the opportunity this morning to do a Lovers' Key rounding (9 km in Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico) with the CGT team. The forecast had been for moderate south wind, but it ended up being a very light breeze with pleasantly cool fog. There was gentle 1' swell on the Gulf, some weird chop and standing waves created by current in the inlets, and the usual assortment of boat and jetski wakes in Estero Bay. But overall the conditions were quite smooth- glassy, even. They were good conditions to see if I could beat my personal best for the rounding, 59:20, 9.03 kph, set on Whitey in November. As it turned out, I beat the time by over two minutes today, getting 57:15, 9.38 kph. Yippee!

I think I have a great board. Now I need to focus on becoming a great paddler. Next weekend is a long race in Melbourne, FL, the "Neptunalia Challenge." We'll see if I can keep up with the fast paddlers there.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

SUP race report- CGT Winter Race #2

I tried to burn off the Christmas cookies today at a tough local SUP race, the CGT Kayaks and Paddleboard Winter Race #2. This is me on the red board and Mark Athanacio on the blue and green board at the finish line.

As in the first race of this series, the competition was close. There was a big turnout (19 racers!) with lots of fast men and women. The course was the same- 5.1 km in the Imperial River with some challenging narrow bends and turns. Many people significantly improved their times from the first race. It may have helped that the weather was mercifully cool for Florida, about 20C. I used my 14'x24.75" Fanatic Falcon with a Riviera R8 paddle and Fins Unlimited 6" keel fin. (PS- The Fanatic is for sale at CGT- $1000.) The unofficial results of the race were:

James Douglass, 14', 33:28
Mark Athanacio, 14', 33:29
Mark Hourigan, 14', 34:20
Murray Hunkin, 14', 34:39
Matt Kearney, 14', 36:36
Justin DiGiorgio, 14', 37:53
Meg Bosi, 12'6, 38:56
John Wheeler, 12'6, 39:24
John Weinberg, 14', 40:43
Mark Payne, 14', 41:42
Beth Schadd, 12'6, 41:47
Damien Lin, 12'6, 43:12
Saralane Harrer, 14', 43:34
Jared Hamilton, 12'6, 44:16
Donna Catron, 12'6, 45:02
Jodi Ziajka, 12'6, 47:22
Heather Olson, 12'6, 53:27
Steve Fleming, 14', 57:36
Nick Fleming, 12'6, 59:23

Drafting played a role in this race, but unlike in the previous one, the top 4 started in different groups and were never in one long train. The first starting group was Matt, Murray, Jared, and Justin.

I was in the second starting group with Athanacio and Hourigan. Athanacio started like a rocket, as always, and I got behind to draft him. He is tough to draft because a) he's really fast, b) he doesn't make much wake, and c) his paddle strokes make a lot of turbulence in the wake, especially when he's sprinting. The rounded nose on my Fanatic handles the rough wake well, though, which helped me stay steady when tailgating. Unfortunately for Hourigan the narrow pintail on my Fanatic makes a tiny wake that is hard to ride. Hourigan stuck pretty close to Athanacio and me with a smooth and efficient stroke, but I don't think he got much benefit from drafting.

In the group ahead of us Matt drafted behind Murray for a while but ultimately couldn't keep pace with the South African powerhouse. Murray has always been strong and fast, but lately he has taken it to another level by getting more in-tune with a gear setup that works well for his 100 kg size. He's on a 14'x27" Riviera RP and uses a 110 in2 Quickblade paddle. Justin DiGiorgio is another strong guy who has been hitting the gym hard, but he has been unable to practice SUP much because of his work schedule. He muscled through with a fast time but said his back and shoulders were killing him. It seems like strength training in the gym is a good complement to on-the-water training, but can't totally substitute for water time.

Athanacio and I traded drafting leads a few times. I was leading at the first buoy turn, and then gave him back the lead after we passed Matt on the upriver leg. I annoyed Athanacio when yielding the lead because I didn't slow down much, forcing him to work harder than he should have to get around. He let me take back the lead in the latter part of the upriver leg, which was a relief to me because it would have been really hard to pass him any time later in the race if he didn't want me to get by. At that point I just put my head down and tried to grind out the rest of the race, closing the distance on Murray ahead and trying not to screw up in any big ways that would give Athanacio an easy opportunity to get around. Murray bumbled at the upriver turn around, the bat bridge, and Athanacio and I turned wide around him and gave it 100% for the last leg. Athanacio was right behind me but there were no good opportunities for him to pass. He made some comments expressing his frustration about that but I was too out of breath to say anything sassy in return. I redlined my heartrate around 190 bpm for the rest of the race, luckily avoided colliding with trees or the racers coming upriver, and narrowly eked out a victory. Athanacio was right behind, and Hourigan and Murray pretty close, too.

Here's my data from the race:

According to Athanacio this is the last time I will ever taste sweet victory on the Imperial River. He's taking the kid gloves off and upgrading to a sleek new 14'x23" ultra-light carbon board. Since we're about the same speed now he may very well get the best of me with his new stick. But I'm not going to make it easy for him.

I definitely wasn't the only one who had a good race. Looking at the full official results on the CGT Time Trials page it seems that MANY of the racers beat their race #1 time by a minute or more- some by as much as 3 minutes. Meg Bosi, who is in the process of recovering from a shoulder injury, got first place overall in the 12'6 class with a time a full minute faster than Kate Pagan's winning time from the first race. (Kate missed this race because Costa Rica.) It should be tight competition between Kate and Meg next time. Some of the biggest improvements from the first to the second race were among the newer racers like Saralane Harrer, Damien Lin, and Beth Schadd. Jodi Ziajka had a solid race but will need every trick in the book to pass her peer Donna Catron, who has been killing it since getting a nice carbon Hoviesup. Steve and Nick Fleming were a father-son pair on matching Naish sups. I was impressed that young Nick, who was only half as tall as his paddle, seemed to cruise gracefully through the whole race. He'll be one to watch out for in the future.

Looking forward to the next race in the series on January 24th.