V-racks and intellectual property

I forgot to mention this in my previous posts about the Lighthouse to Lighthouse race.

On Friday, we arrived at the hotel around 3:30 or so. There were two other cars with v-racks and surf skis on top, one with Pennsylvania plates with two “Goodboy” racks and the other with one Goodboy rack and one KayakPro rack. Mike’s car has one Goodboy rack and one of John Eberhardt’s not-as-good-as-the-original-but-passable clones of the Goodboy rack.

As an aside, I should mention that Mike’s Goodboy rack is a result of a deal I worked out with the Mr. Goodboy himself, Cliff Roach, where I took a bunch of orders and he sent them all to me, I assembled them and distributed them to Rochester paddlers. I brought 6 racks, including my own. Unfortunately my rack got stolen, so now I have my Eberhardt clone rack and a KayakPro rack I bought because I don’t like the Eberhardt one much.

So anybody, a guy walks over and he’s looking intently at Mike’s racks. I notice he’s wearing a “Keystone Kayaks” t-shirt, and I remember that it used to be the only web presence for Goodboy racks was on the Keystone Kayak’s web site, so I asked him if he was Cliff Roach, and he was. Considering we’re rocking a clone of his intellectual property on our roof… awkward.

He asks us why we cut off the curved bit of his rack, and I explained it was a clone of his design by a guy who didn’t have the resources to bend the aluminum. I quickly reminded him of my group order, and explained how Eberhardt made this clone after my Goodboy rack got stolen, and I hope that mollified him.

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Lighthouse to Lighthouse pics

Rounding the bouy in heavy traffic

Rounding the bouy in heavy traffic


Half way through the race.

Half way through the race.

Photos by Daniel Marino, http://danmarinophoto.com

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Lighthouse To Lighthouse 2014

L2L

Mike and I did the Lighthouse To Lighthouse race this weekend, and it was a doozy. The most salient features making it “a doozy” are:

  • My first ocean race
  • 14 miles long, my longest race so far
  • The Eastern US surf ski championships
  • A metric butt-load of surf skis. I believe they were saying 88, in all the classes. This is as well as rowing craft, outrigger canoes, sea kayaks, SUPs and some weirder stuff.

The things that made me think this could not only be “do-able”, but also that I could possibly do well:

  • Being Long Island Sound rather than open ocean meant it was probably going to be small waves and lots of boat wakes, something I can regularly train on here in Rochester
  • Mike and I had done a number of very long training paddles on Lake Ontario, making me feel confident in my ability to last for 14 miles
  • As I was tapering down my mileage last week I took a number of paddles in Irodequoit Bay, which is shallow and heavily travelled by boats, making it prime breeding ground for that mish-mash of boat wakes that Mike refers to as “potato patch” and I used to refer to as “I hate this I hate this I hate this I hate this please let it be over”, and I felt like I was getting pretty good at handling that stuff.

I spent the week before the race obsessively checking the marine forecast for Norwalk CT for race day. Every time I checked, it said the water was going to be nice and warm, the waves were going to be less than 1 foot high, and the wind was going to be either from the south west or from the north west at about 5 to 10 knots. I liked either of those options – south west would give us a head wind out and a nice push on the way back, north west would mean the wind was coming across the islands and wouldn’t be generating any waves at all. What I sort of realized but not quite was that with only 1 foot waves, they wouldn’t dominate over the boat wakes, so the whole race would be spent in “potato patch” waters.

So anyway, Mike and I discussed strategy. We paddle together a lot and most of the time I’m a stronger paddler than him, so my strategy was to try and find a wake I could ride, and his strategy was to try and hold onto me and if not find somebody else. Because I paddle against the people I paddle against rather than against the best people on the east coast, I had the idea in my head that I’m probably one of the top people in the V10 Sport surf ski, so my intention was to find one of them and try to hold onto them.

At the start we had about a 250 meter straight downwind, then a bouy to turn at, and then head out behind Sprite Island and straight to Pecks Ledge Light, the first of the lighthouses in the race’s name. Then it’s on a curving line past a bunch of low islands and around the second lighthouse, Greensledge Light, and back along the same islands and back in the way we came.

Before the start, somebody at the start pointed out a real “gotcha” about the course – on the way back, it’s easy to not see Goose Island because it’s very low and silhouetted against an island that’s beyond the course, Cockenoe Island, and you will see Peck’s Ledge Light and think you can head directly to it, but if you do you’ll end up going in behind Goose Island (and maybe even Copps Island) and get disqualified. I’m glad he did, because I nearly got suckered.

While we were warming up, Mike pointed out that the start line was very wide, and if we lined up to the right hand side, we’d have a tiny bit longer way to the first bouy, but we’d have the full advantage of the wind and waves to our back. It was a smart move, because nearly everybody else lined up to the left side, and when we got to the bouy everybody had already fallen into three very distinct lines and it was easy to squeeze into place in what looked like a good spot.

After the bouy, I ended up on the tail of a guy in a black V10 Sport Elite. (That’s the more expensive and lighter version of my V10 Sport Ultra. I don’t even think Epic offers the Elite model any more.) I thought he’s a guy to try to stick with. Unfortunately as we got out from behind Sprite Island the chop started hitting us from every direction and I was finding it harder and harder to hold onto his wake. I lost it maybe a half of the way from Sprite Island to the lighthouse, about the 2km mark (spoiler alert – I found out afterwards his name is Mario Blackburn as he finished 8 minutes ahead of me.) I was going way faster than I probably should have, and my heart rate was up in the 160s which is higher than I can maintain for 14 miles. I tried to find some other skis whose wakes I could hold onto and by the 3km mark I thought I had somebody. There was a loose aglomeration of 4 skis ahead of us, but we were catching them and none of them were using each other’s wakes. But as we went around Goose Island we suddenly got the full brunt of the wind in our faces. I don’t know why the guy I was following didn’t seem to be affected by it, but he dropped us all hard and went charging up the middle of the 4 guys. I found myself side by side the second of the four guys, with one guy just tantalizingly out of reach ahead. Around this time I saw Jim Mallory and his doubles partner coming back, in a comfortably lead in the double surfski class, and then a few minutes behind the first of the single surf skis, a Fenn.

After we passed Southwest Point, it’s almost 2km of open water between you and the lighthouse, and another 2km back, with no islands sheltering you from shit coming in from the right, and it gets considerably rougher. The tantalizing guy dumped at least twice and did quick remounts. Mike thinks we passed him at this point, but I don’t think I did. All I know for sure is that the guy I was beside surged ahead, and I slowed down in the rough stuff. Just before turning at the lighthouse, I felt a familiar bump on the back of my boat and Mike called out.

I’d forgotten that in that really ugly stuff, Mike does not slow down as much as I did and I guess he used the opportunity to close back in on me. Mad props to him for keeping close enough in the semi-messy stuff that he could close in completely in the really messy stuff. Rounding the lighthouse, he actually went ahead of me. But then we came out from behind the lighthouse and now I was in my element. There were little waves coming from almost straight behind us, and with my lighter boat and slightly more power, I could get on those and surf them better than Mike, and pull away.

I don’t actually know how much I’d gotten ahead of Mike. In my head I was imagining that I was leaving him far behind. But the fact that we were now going with the wind meant that there was no cooling breeze, and I was cooking in the heat. I started to fade again, and it was getting harder and harder to put on the burst of energy you needed to catch one of these tiny waves.

As I passed Goose Island, I heard Mike calling from not very far behind a question about the course – it was easy to think that we were supposed to go around Cockenoe Island, but I could see a line of paddlers ahead of me going direct to the lighthouse and behind to Sprite Island and the finish, so I called back to go direct to the lighthouse. But the fact that it was obvious I hadn’t left Mike far behind, or he’d managed to claw his way back to within earshot was slightly dispiriting to me, but man I’ve got to give him full credit for that. Near the lighthouse, I again saw that same guy who’d dumped two or more times ahead of me at the Greensledge Light. This time when he dumped his remount wasn’t as fast as it had been before and I managed to pass him.

After the lighthouse, it was full on “potato patch” again, waves from every direction, including a boat towing kids on a raft who made a gigantic wake right in front of me. However, I had enough energy left that I sprinted over the wake and successfully caught the other side of their wake, which pushed me ahead of the guy in the red Stellar who I’d been chasing for a while (Mark Southam). One thing I noticed at the time and was curious about, everybody else was taking a curving path to the right instead of going straight to Sprite Island. I went straight and didn’t encounter any obstacles that made me think this was a bad idea. I notice now looking at the GPS track that we evidently took that curving track on the way out as well. No idea why, unless people were allowing themselves to be pushed by the wind.

Rounding Sprite Island, I realized that I no longer needed the energy I’d saved to handle the waves, and so I went into an all out sprint. I knew that people who’d been ahead of me for the first 12 or 13 miles of the race were not that far behind me and I didn’t want to give them a chance to catch back up. Looking at my GPS tracks again, you can see my heart rate respond to the extra effort by jumping up to 155 or so, but not much change in my speed as it barely touches 10km/hr, but then again that section was more directly into the wind.

Crossing the line, I finally managed to look back and see that while Mike hadn’t caught the guy in the red Stellar, he was involved in a neck and neck battle with the guy who kept remounting. In the end, I finished in 2:17:15 in 31st position, the red Stellar finished 32nd, and Mike barely nipped the remount guy finishing 2:17:52 in 33rd, and remount guy (Jeff Cowley) finished two seconds behind him.

So, what’s the upshot? Am I satisfied? Yeah, I guess I am. I paddled a good race in trying conditions in an environment that was a bit different than I’m used to, and did as well as could be expected against a very high quality field. And I’m hoping to come back next year and go better.

My goal of being one of the top V10 Sports was sort-of met – I was the 4th V10 Sport, but I was a whole 17 minutes behind the fastest one. Surprisingly, the guy in the lightest V10 Sport, the black one, was only 8 minutes ahead of me. Maybe I should have tried harder to hold his wake? But then again, three of the guys in the SS-20 category (the category invented for Epic V8 and Stellar S18 but specifically excluding V10 Sport) were faster than me as well. So maybe it’s not all about the boat.

One thing that jumps out at me about the results though – one of the SUP paddlers supposedly beat my time. Either that is one hell of a SUP paddler, or there’s something wrong there. I’ve never met a SUP paddler who could hold even close to the same speed as me, and this guy did it 14 miles in 2:13:30, for an average speed of 6.3mph! The second fastest SUP was 56 minutes slower.

I also discovered that just like in Tarifa, handle bar tape and salt water do not mix. I’ve got lots of new blisters on my right hand. I was using handle bar tape, but it tore my left hand apart in Tarifa. So I switched to no tape and cycling gloves, but that made my right hand numb, so I switched back to tape on my right hand and a glove on my left hand. It may have looked silly, but it worked just fine in fresh water, but evidently it doesn’t work in salt water. I’ve got to keep experimenting. I guess I could try no tape and no glove on the right next.

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Damn DMARC

So a couple of weeks or months ago, I noticed something odd with the mailing lists I run. People on Yahoo and AOL claimed that they were missing messages, and Gmail was stuffing mailing list messages from people on Yahoo or AOL into the Spam folder, even though I’d received literally hundreds of messages from those people on those mailing lists in the past.

After investigating, it turns out that both Yahoo and AOL had turned on an anti-spam feature called “DMARC”. Basically what it meant if a message came with a From line saying it was from either of those, but not coming from an approved mail sender, they were asking the rest of the net to treat it as spam. Gmail honored the DMARC request by putting it in the Spam folder, but Yahoo and AOL and some other ISPs were just bouncing the messages or throwing them away.

This DMARC was obviously a huge problem for mailing lists, because what they do is they accept an email from a person, and then send out the message to all the members of the mailing list, and most of them use the person’s email address in the From line of the mailing list message. This breaks under DMARC, because if my mailing list server recieved an email from joe.blow@yahoo and sends out a message to the mailing list members with a From: joe.blow@yahoo, then all those mail servers that implement DMARC are going to see that I’m not designated by yahoo as a valid sender of yahoo email, and they’re going to drop it.

The developers of the Mailman mailing list software were quick to offer some solutions. First they issued 2.1.16, which had a quick and dirty work-around, and then they rolled out 2.1.18, which had what I think is a much better solution. But my problem is that my mailing list server is pure Debian Stable, and I want to only install packages, not get into the hassle of installing things from source and then having to monitor if things are updated. So I waited for 2.1.18 to get backported to Debian Stable (which uses 2.1.15). I put in request tickets to get it backported. They never did. Instead, they made it a package in Debian Testing, which is less stable.

So I did some googling and discovered something called “apt pinning” that would allow me to install some Debian Testing packages on my Debian Stable system. I tried it, and it wanted to drag in a new version of python, which wanted to drag in a new version of libc, and so on. That’s just stupid – the minimum required python for 2.1.18 is exactly the same as the minimum required python for 2.1.15. Whoever set up the .deb was a little over zealous in the requirements section.

I did not particularly want to drag in unstable versions of the very core libraries of a Linux system for no reason, so my next possibility was to install it from source. That was more complicated than it should have been, but relatively painless. First I tried following the instructions that Bill Bradford pointed me at. Unfortunately, immediately it told me that “Distutils is not available or is incomplete for /usr/bin/python” and “be sure to install the -devel package”. Well, unfortunately there isn’t a “python-devel” package. I looked at the script that configure was using to determine what it was looking for, and the problem was a missing Python.h in /usr/include/python2.7/. A bit of searching, and I discovered that this was installed by a package called “python2.7-dev” – so close, but so far from the “python-devel” I had been searching for. After that, I discovered I had to install the “make” program (like I said, this was a pure server system and I hadn’t been building software on it before) and I did my “make install”. Mail seemed to flow, but I couldn’t access the web interface. Bill suggested running the “check_perms -f”, which found and fixed 26 permissions problems, but still things weren’t working. I compared the perms on a few directories between this installation and my last backup, and discovered that neither the installation program nor check_perms had noticed that the cgi-scripts in the /usr/lib/cgi-bin/mailman directory were setgid “root” instead of setgid “list”. I fixed that, and everything started to work.

Now I wanted to test whether the new “dmarc_moderation_action” setting that 2.1.18 provided would actually fix the problem. So I changed the setting on one of my mailing lists, and emailed a guy on yahoo who was on the mailing list to see if he could test it for me. Unfortunately he wasn’t around, so the next morning I bit the bullet and created a yahoo mail account and added it to that list. I tried a post by this user to the list, and it did the right thing (changed the From address to the list address, but used the Yahoo’s person name part in the person name part), and testing that gmail didn’t stuff it in the Spam folder. I made sure it doesn’t do that with non-DMARC addresses like gmail. And then I made that setting change to all my lists.

Finger crossed, and hope that there aren’t too many more updates I have to apply before a 2.1.18 or later Mailman shows up in Debian Stable.

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My other kayak

Last year I found this Think Legend surf ski on Craigslist. Poor guy had bought it because he wanted a fast kayak and didn’t realize there is a skill progression required. I’m almost a good enough paddler to manage it. Last year I paddled it a lot, trying to master it. But this year I’ve hardly touched it. You see, last year my other surf ski was a ancient V10 Sport in club layup, so the fact that the Legend was their cheap layup and was heavy as hell didn’t bother me. After all, it was narrower and longer than the V10 Sport so I knew if I ever mastered it I’d be faster in it. And by the end of the year I could handle it in a straight line and on flat water. I used it in a couple of races on the canal and did ok with it.

But this year I’ve had a change of plans. I got a V10 Sport in ultra layout, and it’s so light it makes the weight of the Legend seem like paddling a brick. A tippy unstable brick. Plus I’ve become really enamored of paddling on the lake, with all the waves and boat wakes and other stuff I used to hate. Plus I signed up for the Lighthouse to Lighthouse (L2L) race, my first ocean race, and I’m committed to paddling the Blackburn Challenge next year. So I’ve been all about the V10 Sport this year and neglecting the Legend.

But I did do a bit of a time trial one against the other on the canal and it appears that the Legend might be a tiny bit faster on the flat. And when I’ve hit a bit of a wake, it seems like the Legend has the potential to be really fast in the surf. If only I could keep it upright. If and when that day happens, I’m seriously thinking of getting a light high performance boat, either another Think Legend (if I can find one) or a V12 or whatever turns up on the used market.

I paddle the Legend one night a week – Mike and I call it “tippy boat night”. I guess after l2L I should up that to two or three times a week. Unfortunately last time I dropped it on the dock, putting a rather deep looking crack in it. It’s probably repairable, but I fear it will be a bad idea it paddle it until it’s fixed. Plus the patch will make my heavy boat even heavier. So I guess no tippy boat night until it’s fixed.

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