West End Loop Race 2014

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Mark Urkov…upright and rounding the West End (note flying fish in lower left corner). Special thanks to Pura Kai for supporting the race!

Things I saw at the conclusion of The West End Loop Race: 1.) Vacant stares; 2.) Blood; 3.) Folks with hypothermia; 4.) Silly, slightly bewildered smiles.  It was no cake walk to be sure.  For those that thought they still had a good base and that they could throw in an easy 16 miles (myself included), well, they got their asses handed to them.

The 11:00 start set the tone for the day.  At 11:05 the wind came on and didn’t stop, and the NW swell had us clawing up some solid rollers (which was about the only time I could see any other paddlers).  Honestly, I’ve never come off the board more during a race in my life and I don’t know how the SUP guys did it–they looked miserable paddling most of the first 8 miles on their knees.  Keep in mind, these guys are all excellent paddlers, on their knees, just surviving the first leg.  At mile 6 the conditions got a bit better (we could see the turn at the end of the island), but the damage was done–attrition pulled a number of folks out of the race.

What was supposed to be a fast down-winder on the front side of the island just wasn’t.  If you stopped paddling there was a good chance that you were going backward…against the wind.  At 13 miles, I just had to laugh at how spent I was and, had it not been for the support boats, that were carrying extra food and water, I think a good many people would not have finished.

Crossed the line 3rd stock…but the operative phrase in this case was “crossed the line.”  The Flying Fish did a hell of a job keeping everyone safe and the race proved to be one that could be technical, punishing, and on my list again for next year.  Now if I can just convince them to start it a few hours earlier.

 

 

 

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