Island to Island Race Action

What a difference a few weeks makes between The West End Loop Race and the 2014, Island to Island Waterman Challenge.  The Loop was brutal slugfest wherein nature punished all of the paddlers and reminded me why the heck we do these things–it takes heart.  I2I, at 32 miles, could have thrown us anything this year, but what we got was a perfectly glassy day, a great paddle battle with the 1st place unlimited team, and the overall win in under six hours.

The AlexSeal OC-1 was the perfect weapon for the day and I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of teammates…thank you Ryan Voci and Mark Urkov for hammering the paddle, as well as the pre- and after-party–total chargers (#teamthoseguys).  Video and additional pictures to come…stay tuned.


FB I2I Waterman Post


wpid-img_46124679932145.jpeg wpid-img_46173287684314.jpeg

West End Loop Race 2014


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.




The West-End Loop Race

Getting excited about the 2014 West-End Loop paddleboard race on September 27th, hosted by the gracious Flying Fish PB club.  I suspect we are going to get something a bit more ‘interesting’ than the hot, perfect weather we’ve been having for the last month 😉  All in.

672Katie Hazelrigg being awesome

Race Recap — The Catalina Classic, 2014

The Catalina Classic is a difficult race to recap (what, you’ve notice the delay?).  I’ve never been able to write more than a few lines and post pictures–it’s just an enormous moment that comes down to strategy and performance.  Throw in some foul weather and all bets are off–the race can quickly descend into a simple story of surviving with body in tact.

The 2014 Catalina Classic was, in a word, perfect.  We had a veritable feast of glassy water, paddle-battles, dolphin, shark, whales, tanker drive-by, and, yes, PAIN.


Reno Caldwell’s new PR of 6:01 was a testament to both his preparation and his execution; he pushed when he needed to, stayed relaxed and happy, knee paddled with consistency and strength, and in the end put in what we all considered an inspired effort.  It was  a little bittersweet to come up a minute short of breaking six hours, but that’s just how it breaks.  A special thanks to Tyler Resh, whose experience with going fast on a paddleboard made decision making that much more precise, and Mark Urkov, skipper of The Rough House.  Mark’s focus on bringing out the best in paddlers is becoming something of a ‘thing’ among the paddling set–not to mention that he is one of the funniest guys around.

Was it hard not to be in the race this year?  I thought so until about the 24-mile mark and then I watched as Suffering came to visit the faces of ALL of the paddlers that we passed.  The final mile of the paddle is beyond words.  Yes, there’s a crowd on the beach waiting, and boats and cheering, and even a number of photogs on pier, but there are so few paddlers who come in with the race written on their faces–a testimony to going up against your on mind and body for hour after hour.  2015 will come soon enough and I’ll be there, on the line or in a boat, because the channel keeps beckoning.


This Is Our Hammer

This is our hammer.

This is Stephen Caldwell. He goes by many names and nicknames (“Reno” mostly), but come Sunday, the day of the the 2014, Catalina Classic Paddleboard Marathon, he will be known as “go,” “push,” “faster,” and, at the end of 32 brutal miles, “the man.”

Reno is a threat on 14′ and he knows it; and, with that knowledge, there is a lot of pressure to perform.  He’s probably already feeling it now, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by chatting with him. Gregarious, humble, generous, and dedicated, Reno is the man to whom all our effort will be focused come Sunday.  

Skipper: Mark Urkov; Support Boat: The Rough House; Boat Bunny and Nutrition: Yours truly 🙂

Sunday, Reno Caldwell, and the majesty that is the Catalina Classic.  Bring it…and stay tuned.

Caldwell 2

Classic 2014 Logo