On the second day of the vacation, the morning was spent talking technique, watching each other erging and trying to fix problems. My biggest problem is one I became aware of last year, which is that I splash myself in the stomach with my catch on the left side, but not so much on the right side. Both Rob Hartman and Erik Borgnes pointed out that I was doing my catch and pull as one fluid action, and it appears I’m “firing” the pull too early, as the paddle blade is still going into the water. Something to work on.
I mentioned Rob before. Erik is in some ways the opposite – if you saw him in a crowd, you wouldn’t pick him out as a superb athlete. For one thing, he’s much shorter than Rob and doesn’t have his enormous reach. But get him out on the water and he’s as fast as anybody you’ve seen.
One of the things I’ve found with things like learning paddling or when I was learning how to fly is that it’s often really great to get instruction from more than one person, because even if they’re explaining the same thing, the way one of them says it will click more than the way the other person says. And that’s why it was great to have both Erik and Rob spending some time giving you advice.
After the dry land sessions, we headed out to Lake Leelanau. There was no wind to speak of and the sun was shining brightly. We were paddling around, working on technique and getting feedback from Erik and Rob and also “assistant instructor” Greg Greene, although Greg was mostly busy with some of the less experienced paddlers.
After a while, Nick showed up on the back of a power boat, being driven by a local friend of his. (One of the locals said something about having seen the driver in TV commercials or some local access TV show or something to do with his painting business – I didn’t follow the whole conversation.) And once the boat got there, it was time to chase wakes. And man, that boat put out a good wake.
The first couple of times I rode the wake, I was on the bow wake, much like I do with boats in the canal, but when he started going fast I found myself being pushed into the side of his boat with more force than I could compensate with the rudder. One time I ended up with my bow pushing against the side of his boat, my boat on an angle to the incoming water, and me ending up upside down. It turned out that remounting my new V10 Sport is pretty much the same as remounting my old V10 Sport, so no worries there. Another paddler there, Eric (not Erik), also liked the bow wake and we sometimes found ourselves on opposite bows while some of the others took the rear wakes. At one point he was in the bow wake and I was right behind him in the rear wake and he did the same thing I’d done, but when he got his bow pushing against the side of the ski boat, he managed to brake with his paddle and shot out the back. I was expecting him to dump and take me out as well, but luckily I was able to maneuver around him and stay on the wake. I guess we both showed some skill on that.
Rob gave a virtuouso performance, getting exactly situated on the rear wake in such a way that he didn’t even have to paddle as the ski boat’s speeds went upwards from 10mph. It was like watching Boyan in Tarifa. So unfair that the guys with the tremendous stamina don’t even have to use it because of their tremendous skill.
It was a very long day on the water, and after about two and a half hours I was starting feel completely wiped. I was about to say I was going to head back to the put-in and wait in the shade for everybody else to finish when everybody else got the same idea at the same time and we headed back.
Back at the lodge, we looked at some of the pictures and videos that Nick shot from the boat, and commented on each other’s wake riding technique. I saw a bunch of pictures that I wish I could get a copy of because they’d make great profile pictures.
Afterwards, Vicki and I headed out to a restaurant in Suttons Bay that Nick had recommended. People had been discussing going in a group, but they were taking way too long to get organized and so Vicki and I had gone on our own. We had an absolutely lovely meal. As we were leaving, we saw that the group had eventually gotten to the same restaurant and had been eating in the front. Oh well, it was nice to make some time for Vicki.