Fifth Race: 27.33. Equipment failure.

The weather looked horrible as I got in the car to go to the race tonight, and as I got there a few random rain drops turned into a full fledged downpour. Ken had the radar picture up on his laptop and said it was a narrow band of rain and moving quickly, and so the meagre crowd hung out under the awning to wait it out. And sure enough, after it passed the horrible hot humid air was gone and replaced with cool dry air.

I was the second one off, and started behind a young woman whose times had been straddling 25 minutes for the last couple of weeks. I tried to paddle quickly but also using the new techniques Dan had taught me. I’m not sure I was doing a very good job of keeping good technique, and I think I started out too fast. There was very little in the way of waves on the bay, but enough to get a bit of a surf going on the way back in, which was good because I needed a rest by then. The young woman was pulling away a bit, but not too badly. I can through the split with a time of 12.05, which I think is about 0.50 minutes faster than last week.

I’d had my skeg about half way down while surfing the waves in, and decided I needed it most of the way up to negotiate the twisty bits of the creek. And that’s when I realized something was wrong – it wouldn’t come up at all. Thinking I’d scissored some weeds, I tried to put it all the way down and then put it up. But after putting it all the way down, it wouldn’t come up at all. And that’s when I noticed that a loud swishing noise from the stern, indicating that the skeg had picked up a load of weeds. I also noticed that I was paddling as hard as I could, and not producing much of a bow wave. It was like paddling a dock. At this point, I thought about turning around and DNF-ing (DNF == Did Not Finish). But I kept going. With the skeg down full, I had to sweep full on one side for 10 to 20 strokes to turn one corner, and then sweep full on the other side for the next bend. And the buoy turn needed back paddling and a complete loss of momentum. By the turn, any thoughts I had of trying to do a good technique were totally out the window, it was complete brute force and ignorance paddling. I just wanted to get home.

When I got in, I told Dan what had gone wrong, and we pulled the boat out of the water we could see that the skeg had broken completely off at the front pivot, and was handing down with a V forward instead of a more hydrodynamic V backward. And sure enough, there were a couple of pounds of weeds trapped in the V. Dan asked if I wanted to take a different boat and try the course again, but I had blown out my arms and shoulders on the long slog back.

Dave tells me that GRO should have replacement skegs in stock, so I should have it back by the weekend.