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


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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.