Category Archives: Kayaking

Thanks, Final Cut Pro

So my new computer has a 2TB “hybrid” drive instead of the 512GB SSD I had in my laptop, so I thought I’d see if doing my video editing on the main drive instead of an external drive would be faster. The last video I did, from last weekend’s Electric City race, worked fine, although I didn’t really see any speed improvements. So yesterday when I went to start a new project the first thing I did was move the Electric City event/project from the Final Cut Pro (FCP) library on the main drive to the one on the external drive, and then start importing clips and editing on the new project. I did some editing and left it in the “transcoding and analysis” state overnight – editing is a lot smoother if you let it just finish those “background” tasks overnight, I’ve found.

But I wake up this morning to dire warnings about how I’ve run out of room on my main drive! So I did a “du” in the Movies folder, and discover that when I told Final Cut Pro to move the project, it did but it left a copy of the full project, including all the transcoded “optimized” files, in ~/Movies/FCP_Library.fcpbundle/__Trash/Electric\ City\ 2017-9B3Flz/. There doesn’t appear to be a menu item to empty that pseudo-trash, so I just did an rm -rf on it and now I’m down to 70% used.

After I did that, I discovered that Final Cut Pro will automatically empty __Trash when it exits, but it seems to me that cleaning up your old projects is a natural thing to do when starting a new one, so that’s just bad UX. Especially since when you tell it to move the project it returns a success immediately, but then it’s in the background tasks queue. So it was actually still going on when I was importing my clips last night, and so if I’d said to move the project then exited FCP it wouldn’t have had any trash to empty because it wouldn’t have finished moving.

Electric City Regatta 2017

Well, there’s a first time for everything, I guess. Normally I don’t do two races in two weekends, but I found out this race wasn’t too far away, and it’s a NYMCRA points race so it should be well attended. I’ve never done Electric City, but ever since I committed to doing it, I’ve had Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue” running through my head.

To save money, I decided to drive up in the morning. It’s a 3-hour drive, and the race starts at 10, so in order to get there in time to register and prepare, I ended up meeting Jim at a Tim Hortons at 5:45 in the morning. Because my wife is extremely understanding, she came with me to take my car home – the Tim Hortons only has about 5 parking spaces and I’m sure if they’d seen my car taking up one of the spaces all day long they would have towed it.

Somewhere along the way, we found ourselves following a van with a racing canoe on the roof rack. Old habits kicked in, and Jim tucked into his wake and followed him no matter how fast he went. About 15-20 miles from our exit, we caught up with Matt Skeels truck – very easy to spot because of the four Epic boats on the roof, including a black V10 GT with a tiny DK rudder. Jim let the canoe guy go and followed Matt instead. Which is great, because neither of us knew exactly where the parking lot was, but Matt did as he’d done it last year.

The actual venue was the Lock 9 Park on the Mohawk River. It’s part of the Erie Canal system, and there is dam crossing the river and a lock. It’s a big grassy area, lots of room to park and set up registration awnings and stuff. There’s also an unpaved boat ramp. Obviously, with the dam, there’s only one direction the race could go, upstream (and back). There was a small current but a fairly stiff breeze that was going to be in our faces on the way up. Garmin Connect says it’s a 5 km/hr wind from the north, but it felt more like 20 km/hr and straight down the river. The river bent to the left away from the start and out of sight.

We got registered and got our boats prepared, and sized up the competition a bit. Dave Wiltey was there, and I don’t think I’ve seen him since the 2010 Long Lake Long Boat Regatta and he’d beaten me pretty easily there.

Then I went to warm up. In between the put-in ramp and the lock, here was a row of low concrete blocks, each with a mooring bollard sticking out of the water. As I warmed up, I followed a C-2 that crossed in between the bollards without incident. But then as I circled around I attempted to cross it myself and discovered that there was another one of these bollards that was completely underwater. I saw the bollard and put on the brakes, and once I thought I was clear of hitting the bollard, I relaxed but hit the concrete platform that was supporting the bollard extremely hard. It made a horrendous noise and I could see white paint on the concrete corner. I was convinced I’d damaged my boat, possibly bad enough that it would fill with water and sink.

But there was no time to do anything about it, so I decided I had to put it out of my mind and just concentrate on the race.

The race started in three waves – C-1s first, C-2s second, then kayaks and C-4s. I went up to the start line and lined up on the left side of the river so I could be out of the current and out of the wind going around the first bend. Eric and Roger were both there. Jim, Matt, and Royal were a bit further out. I didn’t notice where Dave W lined up.

Immediately after the start siren went off, Eric leaped ahead of me. Roger had tried to grab his wake but left enough of a gap for me to slip in. Not long after, a C-4 came up with Dave W on their stern wake. Eric kept pace with them, but due to the way he was positioned, I’m not sure if he was getting any benefit from the wake, but I know I wasn’t – back where I was the wake was more like completely parallel to my boat. And then the C-4 started to pull ahead, so I quickly moved over to Dave’s wake – his wake wasn’t as good a ride as being straight on the C-4’s wake, but it was better than Eric’s because it was moving faster. Eric also saw which way things were going and dropped back onto my wake. Roger tried to get on Eric’s wake, but I don’t think he was successful.

On the way up, the C-4 was taking lines that were different from what I would have if I hadn’t been drafting them. Some examples of that were:

  • Threading the needle between C-2s and C-1s from the first and second waves.
  • Spending way too much time in the middle of the river experiencing the wind and current while crossing, instead of going smartly to the opposite bank.
  • Going through shallows – when this happened, their stern waves would shorten up and I’d have to come up half way beside Dave’s boat so I didn’t end up off of their wake when it got deep again.

Somewhere along the way, we lost Eric off our wake. At one point we picked up a C-2, but they didn’t last long. The C-4 didn’t seem to be trying to scrape us off because we weren’t interfering with them, although at one point the C-4 stern paddler turned and said something to Dave about our nice ride.

A medium sized power boat had come through in the other direction. Its wake hit us while we were snaking our way through several canoes, and everybody slowed down except me. Even Dave had to brace. Being in a surfski seemed like a distinct advantage, even though the occasional wave would splash into my cockpit and I’d have to open the drain a touch.

Nearing the turn, I could see Jim and Matt together. Jim appeared to be riding Matt’s wake – I found out afterward that Jim and Matt decided to just trade off leads as a training exercise. Not far behind them was Royal. He’s getting good very quickly.

At the turn, Dave slowed down and tried to take it very tight. The C-4 and I both took a wider route and kept paddling hard. I was just about on the C-4s wake, but when Dave came along to challenge me, I backed off and let him take it. I’m still not sure why I did that.

On the way down, the wind, now coming from behind, was kicking up small waves. This seemed to be giving Dave problems – he’d often end up at an angle to the direction of travel and then have to sprint back to the C-4s wake. I think his overstern rudder was letting him down in the small waves. I was thinking it was a distinct possibility that he was going to lose the C-4’s wake and I wanted to be ready to go around him if that happened.

But then a very large power boat came through in the other direction. I’d seen what a smaller boat wake had done to both the C-4 and Dave, so I was looking forward to this. This boat made a pretty large wake, and the C-4 turned into it. Dave turned directly into the wake rather than following them, and actually ended up having to brace. I sprinted ahead and grabbed the C-4’s wake. Awesome, now I had the good ride and Dave would have to settle for second best. Except, unfortunately, it didn’t last. Less than 40 seconds after I got on to their wake, they saw a crowd of boats all clustered around somebody who’d been knocked into the water by the power boat wake. I could see that the canoe was already being slid over somebody else’s canoe (a so-called “canoe over canoe rescue” that gets the upside down canoe out of the water and the water out of the canoe) and that one of the C-2s that was in the gaggle was already leaving, so obviously things were under control and I wasn’t needed. I decided to strike off on my own. I glanced back and it appeared that Dave was joining the gaggle, so I thought I was really on my own, but reviewing the backwards-facing camera footage I can see that Dave had second thoughts almost immediately and came right back to my wake.

I had no idea Dave was there, and I just was working my way up through the widely separated C-2s. I’d get up to one, take a drink and recover a bit, then blast past them and try to chase the next. Just about the time I got to the bridge where the 3-mile race course turned around, there were two C-2s close together but neither one was riding wakes. I couldn’t tell if one was faster than the other. I caught up to rear one’s stern wake and I was hanging out trying to recover for my next blast up to the next one. I was tiring, and these were getting harder to do. Suddenly I see Dave coming past and onto the wake of the leading C-2. Oh, that’s a surprise and not a nice one. I find myself back in the now familiar place, riding Dave’s stern wake. But the second C-2 either wants the first C-1s stern wake for themselves or they’re not very good at paddling in a straight line because several times they come in close enough to Dave that he has to stop paddling on that side. Each time that happens, Dave slows and I attempt to come through, but I don’t have the energy.

But now it’s less than a kilometer to the finish and I can see it straight ahead. Rather than paddle in this variable speed battle for the C-2’s wake, I decided to see if I can get any benefit from the now very strong tail wind and wind driven waves and strike out directly downwind. At first, it appeared to be working, as I ended up even with the C-2 while Dave was still on their stern wake, but then he put the hammer down and came around them and passed me. He ended up finishing 4 seconds ahead of me. Eric was a minute and eight seconds behind me, and Roger was a minute and four seconds behind him.

And after the race, obviously, the first thing to do was to get a good look at the damage to my boat from the pre-race bang. And it was bad. Not catastrophic leaking boat bad, but bad enough that cloth is exposed which means no paddling it until I can get it fixed. I hope it doesn’t cost $500 like the last time.

The second thing to do was to look to see if the lunch was worth the $5 they were asking for it. It was. Really good value, and really good food. A very well organized race, and a very well organized lunch afterward.

Armond Bassett 2017

The Armond Bassett (AB) race normally has two moods:

  • Hot and airless and humid or
  • Torrential downpours and lightning touching down less than a quarter mile away

Based on early weather forecasts, I thought we were going to get the second option this year. But instead AB decided to throw another option at us – it was mild temps, still pretty humid, but with a strange swirling breeze that delivered head winds and tail winds at completely random times on the course.

It was a big crowd this year – lots more kayaks than in past years. Other than Royal, the guy who’d ridden my wake for the first half of Round the Mountain this year and then demolished me in the second half, the top contenders were all local guys – Jim, Todd, John H. I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing a top 4 finish with those guys here.

My main goal was to beat Roger and Eric. Both of them paddle Epic 18Xs, but in spite of the slower boats, I’ve had my hands full with these two in the past. In last fall’s Long Lake I’m managed to drop Roger but Eric had ridden me off his wake. Roger and I have traded off beating each other in various races in the last couple of years, so he was the benchmark.

Because AB is so flat, I elected to paddle my V12. I’m not 100% sure I’m faster in it on the flat – I’m definitely slower in it in any sort of waves, but I think I have a small edge in these conditions.

Also, because of the humidity, I elected to not wear my PFD, which necessitated a change to my drinking system. With the PFD, I keep the water bag on my back, with the drinking hose snaked through the straps of the PFD and dangling on my chest where it is easy to grab it and stuff it in my mouth without losing more than one stroke. In my V10 Sport there is a perfect spot for the drinking bag ahead of the footplate in the cockpit, but it’s a very tight squeeze in the V12 cockpit because of this stupid ledge that Epic put in for no discernable reason. If I’d been thinking clearer, I’d have remembered that previous times I’ve paddled the V12 without wearing my PFD I’ve put the bag under the bungees on the back deck. I should have done that this time.

So when it was time to warm up, I started up my two GoPros. Nothing seemed amiss except the one on the front of the boat seemed a bit askew. After a few minutes warm-up, I discovered my drinking hose must be kinked because I wasn’t getting any water out of it. I stopped at the GRC dock and adjusted both the hose and the GoPro. However, the GoPro then decided to beep and announce it was missing an SD card. I have never forgotten the SD card before, so I assumed it was a glitch and power cycled it. No luck. So with no time to put it away somewhere, I left it on the front of the boat.

One aside – the GoPro Hero 5 Session that I wear on my head sometimes shuts off in the middle of a paddling workout for reasons I don’t understand. Hitting the record button on top starts it up, and it’s usually so quick I can easily cover up the glitch in the edit.

As I was lining up for the start, trying to make sure I was close to Eric, I heard the characteristic beeps of a GoPro shutting down. Thinking it was the one on my head, I quickly hit the record button on it. In retrospect, it was probably the one on the front of my boat deciding it had been on standby long enough and shutting down. So GoPro #1 shut down and I reacted by shutting down GoPro #2. That’s like the classic Cockpit Resource Management lesson about the airliner that crashed in the British Midlands because the pilot shut down the wrong engine when one was losing power. So there won’t be any video for this race. My adoring fans will just have to wait until the next race.

So anyway, the start siren went off and we launched from the line. We had the current and wind behind us, making for a fast first segment. Immediately Jim went off like a bullet, followed by John H and Royal. Todd wasn’t immediately up there but he came through pretty quickly. Eric got a good jump on me as I struggled for a few seconds in all the boat wakes, and Roger was right beside me. I put in a big pull to get up to Eric’s wake. I didn’t turn to look because of my lack of stability, but I assume Roger was now on my stern wake.

I wasn’t on Eric’s wake for long when he suddenly stopped to deal with his drink hose that was sort of falling out of his boat. I’m not sure if that was a ploy to get me to pull or a legit problem, but the upshot was that now I was pulling and Eric was on my side wake. I did a very quick glance and I could see somebody in a white boat on Eric’s stern wake, but I couldn’t tell you if it was Roger or Aaron (more about Aaron later). He stayed on my side wake for a while, but I suddenly felt like he was slipping back. I put in a dig and tried to scrape him on a canal buoy. It worked and he wasn’t on my side wake anymore. I don’t know if he was on my stern wake or not.

At the bottom turn buoy, I could spare a very short glance back and see there was more than Roger and Eric behind me. I couldn’t see who else was there, but there was one other boat right there, and several close enough to be considered a legitimate threat. I rounded the buoy and went for the wall, which is optimally shadowed from the current and the wind. And I immediately grabbed my drink hose and shoved it in my mouth and sucked, only to find nothing coming out! Dammit, kinked again! This is going to be a problem, I thought.

Half a kilometer from the turnaround there’s a point where you have to leave the shelter of the canal wall and move out because it gets shallow and weedy. That’s when I realized that instead of Roger or Eric, the occasional paddle banging noise I’d heard behind me since the turn was Aaron B, a local young sprint paddler. He was now up beside me on my side wake. Since he was obviously more stable in his ICF sprint boat than I was in my V12, I asked him how far back the others were. He said they were 5 meters behind. Well, 5 meters is better than nothing, so I kept grinding. I knew they could close 5 meters in no time if I tried any tricks to get Aaron to lead or tried to give another pull on my drink hose, and I didn’t want that. Better to tow Aaron than end up towing Eric and Roger.

For the entire way upstream, I was using every trick I could to get out of the wind and the current. I’d paddled the course a few times and I knew which tree branches you could duck under and which you had to go around, and I knew about one island you could sneak behind and the other one that wasn’t an island anymore. I also made use of the wakes of canoes we were passing to get a bit of a launch. But here’s the weird thing – when I used one of these tricks, Aaron would leave my stern wake and go paddle in the middle of the river, still keeping up with me. I got the distinct impression he was toying with me. And because he’s young and fit, I assumed it was only a matter of time before he got bored of that and blasted off ahead.

I was actually kind of counting on him blasting off ahead. By the second turn buoy, my cockpit had an annoying amount of water in it, but I didn’t want to kick open the venturi drain because of the extra drag. I figured he’d blast off after the turn, I would be able to assess where I was ahead of Roger and Eric, and see if I had time to deal with the venturi drain and maybe even make another attempt at getting something out of my drink bag. But he never did, so I never did.

The second turn buoy is the best place for assessing where you are in the race. I was a little surprised to see Todd coming downstream before Jim. After Jim, John H was very close to him, but Royal looked like he’d be well and truly distanced.

I had a pretty substantial gap on Eric and Roger, who were still together. Not very far behind them was Dennis, a local triathlete who started paddling with us last year and who is making rapid progress to becoming a fast paddler. Further back was a clump of paddlers that contained Jim P, Steve B, Mike F and Mark, another local triathlete who is making the transition to paddling. It was kind of weird to see Jim leading because he put a heavy weight belt into the bottom of his boat to give himself more stability. His boat must have weighed 1.5 times as much as the Ultra layup boats of Mike and Steve. Steve B called something to his son Aaron – I think he was asking if Aaron was feeling ok, and Aaron said he was fine. So suspicion confirmed – he wasn’t having a bad day, he was toying with me.

Ok, I thought, he’s going to outsprint me. Big deal, that’s his specialty. He can probably hit 15 km/hr in a sprint, whereas I’d be lucky to hit 12 km/hr for more than a few seconds. But I kept grinding away because I knew if I didn’t, Eric was going to grind right back up to me. Aaron would be on my stern, then out a boat length or more off to my side, then he’d be back on my stern. I really had no idea where anybody else was – I couldn’t see the kayakers ahead of me through the forest of canoes, and I couldn’t hear or see anybody behind me except Aaron.

At all the landmarks where I knew how far to the finish, I expected Aaron to sprint past me. Under the 490 bridge, 600 meters to go, no Aaron. I tried to raise my speed as much as I could. Under the pedestrian bridge, 300 meters to go, still no Aaron. Ok, this is weird. He should be able to pass me in his sleep. But he didn’t. As I crossed the line, they called out our finish times, and I was a few seconds ahead. So he didn’t even pull up even. By the time I got to the dock, I could see Eric and Roger had finished not very far behind me. But the important thing was they were behind me. I think I heard somewhere that Roger actually passed Eric, but I’m not sure about that.

In terms of actual time and speed, this was actually my slowest AB since 2010. That’s a little worrisome, but I think the stronger than usual current and wind slowed me down a tad. Thanks to Royal and John H still being youngsters, I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group. I’ll take that.

Round the Mountain 2017

There are three salient facts about the Round the Mountain (RTM) race:

  1. For me, and for most racers in this area, this is our first race of the year.
  2. Much of the race occurs on a stream and a connected series of lakes that have a marked channel for the power boaters but there is no rule that says canoes and kayaks have to stick to the channel. In high water years, there are numerous shortcuts and “sneaks” if you’re willing to risk possible damage to your boat.
  3. It has a portage that can make or break your race.

Because this is a high water year, I preloaded my track from the 2015 race as a course in my GPS, because that was a high water year as well and I took all the sneaks. On Friday, Jim and I paddled the part of the course with most of these sneaks and tried to take mental note of the location of the hidden rocks and stumps. My GPS helpfully would buzz and say “off course” whenever I left the line I took in 2015 which was a real help. It was also telling me how many kilometers left to go, which I thought would be a great help for pacing during the race. Jim was saying out loud what he was memorizing as the landmarks for various distances from the finish, which turned out to be an even better help on race day.

So race day comes, and like always at RTM, it was overcast, cool verging on cold, and threatening rain. So pre-race preparation was mostly trying to find a mix of clothing that would be warm enough once you got up to speed, but you wouldn’t freeze to death waiting at the start line or if it started to rain. After careful deliberation, I ended up dressed exactly the same as the last two years – Viakobi v-cold pant and long sleeve top. Funny how that worked out. 

One feature of RTMs past is that the lake would be flat calm when you arrived, and about 10 minutes before the start it would suddenly whip up into 1-2 foot waves coming from your right bow quarter. That didn’t happen this year – it remained pretty flat all the way across the lake. The only waves were coming from a couple of boats with camera crews who were filming the race who were constantly hitting us with boat wakes at odd times and from odd angles. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Another feature of pre-race preparation is trying to determine who your competition was going to be. Roger Gocking wasn’t going to be there, but Eric, the guy Roger and I chased for much of last year’s Long Lake race (unsuccessfully) would. Pete was there of course, but last year I got ahead of him on the first lake and managed to put a gap on him after the portage, so I was pretty sure if I was at my best I could do that again. And there was this new guy in the same boat as me, a V10 Sport Ultra, named Royal. I don’t know much about Royal except he’s young and athletic looking, and I believe he was Matt Skeels V10 Double partner at Long Lake last year. I didn’t hold out much hope of beating him, but maybe his inexperience would give me a chance.

So they announced the start waves, and the second wave would be just unlimited kayaks and C-4s. That means I wouldn’t get my rematch against Eric because he’s in an Epic 18x and would be starting in the first wave. Also, it meant no C-2s to ride wake on. Oh well, maybe some of the C-4s would be the right speed.

The start siren went off and immediately Jim and a K-2 leapt ahead. Jim was actually dogging it a bit – he hadn’t done a proper warm up and so without a Matt Skeels or Todd Furstoss to push him, I think he was planning to warm up on course. He also seemed to stop and look back a few times, like maybe he was considering waiting for us and giving us a wake to ride. Pete is a fast starter and was soon ahead of all the second wave except for Jim and the K-2. Royal was on his wake, and I was three boat lengths back trying to get past the disappointingly slow C-4s. 

I’d have to review the video (oh, by the way, my cameras both worked all the way to the end this time!) but it took me maybe a kilometer to catch back up to the Pete and Royal train. We must have looked fancy with our 3 V10 Sports battling for position and for each other’s wakes. In a repeat of last year, just as we were catching up with some of the dense traffic of the first wave, I make my move and pull ahead of Pete and Royal. After that, I’m aware that at least one of them remained on my stern, but I couldn’t tell you if it was both – I don’t pick up a lot of detail in a quick glance back.

Soon after we headed into the river, I was passing a touring kayak from the first wave when he said: “there’s a rock right in front of you”. Stupid me, I’d been facing him instead of watching where I was going to get a good view for the video camera on my head. When I looked there was a rock sticking an inch out of the water less than a boat length in from in me. Without that guy’s warning, I probably would have hit it dead on and at high speed, wrecking my boat. So thanks, anonymous dude.

A bit later, we get to the most famous “sneak”. This is one Jim and I had scouted yesterday. It’s an island, and the prudent thing is to go around it. If you choose to go in between the island and the shore, there is a massive rock in the middle. The moderate path is to go to the right between the rock and the island, but if you go between the rock and the shore you save a few meters. I’d scouted it, so I knew there was a small rock lurking just at water level, and yesterday Jim had said he was going to take the moderate path and I’d said if I can see the rock before I get there so there are no waves or rain making it invisible, I’d take the risky path. I heard Royal behind me saying something about going right but I could see the rock, so I went straight. Honestly, I thought he was talking to Pete because I had scouted it and I sort of knew what I was doing. But in retrospect, he didn’t know that.

That was shortly before the bridge. Crossing under the bridge, I could see the “BayCreek cheering section” with Susan and Tracey and Kim, but without Vicki, it just didn’t have the volume I’m used to. Still, it was nice to see them there.

After the bridge, it gets into a twisty part where the channel was twisting all over the place but there were lots of opportunities to cut corners. I finally realized that while Royal was right on my tail, I couldn’t see where Pete was. Again, I only take very quick glances and so I didn’t know if he was 2 boat lengths back or 50. On some of my riskier shortcuts, Royal would take the conservative route and then come right back on my tail. At one point he said something about he’d get off my stern wake if I didn’t want him there, but I can hardly object to what is a perfectly legitimate racing tactic. What I probably should have done is grabbed a drink and let him lead for a while, but I wasn’t sure if the only reason I was still in contact with him was the shortcuts I was taking.

It was also during this stretch that I realized that the screen on my GPS was frozen up. This happened to me once before, on a bike ride, and I know from that experience that the only way to clear it is to hold the power button for 60 seconds, so I knew I wasn’t going to get it back for the rest of the race. As well as not getting heart rate and distance to go information, I was more worried that this was going to screw up my video overlay when I make my video. Damn. But oddly, it was still making the occasional beep, but I couldn’t tell if that was a kilometer lap indication or an “off course” indication.

During the twisty part, I hit a stump a glancing blow with my boat on a shortcut that I’d scouted yesterday. That made me a bit cautious and maybe half a kilometer before the portage I stayed in the channel past a couple of marker buoys where Royal went inside and he took the lead. I grabbed onto his stern wake, determined not to let go.

He slowed down before the portage and slowly slid in. I’d been practicing portages with Jim, whose preferred tactic is to come in full speed and jam on the brakes at the last possible second, but there was no room to go around Royal and no point doing so. He was a bit faster than me up the hill, even though he appeared to just be strolling up it. He caught the k-2 that was at the top of the hill with their boat on the ground. Just as he was even with them, they picked up the boat. Initially I’d thought they were going to let Royal go ahead of them and then get in my way, but instead, they were interfering with Royal and trying to go side by side with him on a trail that wasn’t wide enough for two boats. But then they dropped their boat again in the downslope, letting Royal get to the water ahead of them. I got to the dock as Royal was pulling away, and that was the last time I was in contact with him.

The k-2 was too fast, and I couldn’t get on their wake. About the only remaining bit of drama came at another “sneak” that I’d scouted with Jim yesterday. Royal wasn’t taking it, but the k-2 was. I knew the sneak was shallow, required a tight turn and there were numerous rocks on the far side of it. I had little confidence that the k-2 could get through without screwing it up somehow because they’re deeper draft and less able to turn than me. But I figured the best case scenario would be that they would be held up just long enough for me to catch them, and then I could ride their wake for a while and maybe catch Royal. Worst case they’d be bottomed out in the middle and hold me up, but again, afterward I’d have a wake to ride. No such luck, they went through without visibly slowing down, and I actually hit a rock with my rudder. So no k-2 wake for me, and Royal was visibly pulling away even without the benefit of my shortcuts.

From then it was just a matter of trying to pace myself based on my memories of the landmarks Jim had pointed out yesterday and trying to keep myself just on the verge of a stitch in my side. I’m so used to using my heart rate on my GPS to pace that this was literally painful.

It seemed to work, I set a personal record on the course. I really wish I had a GPS track to compare against previous years. I know in 2016 I didn’t use the sneaks because the water was low, and I know in 2015 I had a pretty terrible portage. But it would be nice to see these things side by side.

I talked to Eric afterward and he’d had a very similar time to mine, maybe 20 seconds or so faster, but he’d managed to ride some C-2 wakes for part of it. It would have been a great battle if we’d been in the same wave.

Oh well, time to drive home and then work on my race video.