Third annual BayCreek Kayak and SUP Cup

Today was the BayCreek race. The first time I wrote a long blog post about it. The second time I didn’t – I wrote a few lines on Facebook but that’s all.

Just like last time, the race got postponed because of the weather. This time the forecast was a bit crazy on the Saturday although the thunder didn’t show up. But no matter – Sunday was actually quite nice. It was partly cloudy which turned into sunny about the time the race started. There was a stiff breeze almost straight down the bay. During the warm up I determined that while the breeze slowed things down a bit on the way out and helped a bit on the way back, the waves didn’t really help on the way back because they were moving too slowly and you had to blast over them. Good thing they were small.

The other thing I did while warming up was verify that my new GPS was working right. Last weekend I left my old one on top of my car, and by the  time I came back for it it had been run over by multiple cars,ruining it. I ordered the new Garmin Forerunner 920xt, and it arrived while I was out of town, so this is the first time I’ve paddled with it. It was fine, except just before the 1km mark it gave me some message I could not understand about heart rate recovery. I hoped that wouldn’t happen every kilometer in the race and decided it was good enough.

Ok, after checking out the conditions, next thing is to check out the competition. Jim won last year, but he is sidelined by an injury. The guy in the Stellar surf ski came again this year, but he wasn’t a threat. The one that had me worried was Pete – I’d beaten him last year but he’s gotten a lot faster this year. Not only is he in a faster boat, he’s just paddling better. He’s faster than me in the BayCreek Wednesday night time trials now, and he managed to complete Blackburn when Mike and I quit. Paul D and Dennis Moriarty were in touring class and weren’t going to be challenging me either, so I figured it would be me and Pete fighting for first and second place.

At the start, it very quickly sorted out as I’d expected. Pete and I were neck and neck going up the channel. I don’t envy the guys who had to stand there in the water up to their waists to take pictures but last year they got some really good shots so it’s worth it. At the one kilometer mark I got another one of those annoying message pop ups on my GPS although I’m pretty sure it was different.

After the channel Pete slipped back into my stern wake. A couple of times I snuck a look back and see we had a good gap. After 3km I pulled off to the side and made Pete take a pull. I’d intended to make him pull for at least 2km (because we’d been side by side for the first kilometer so it only seemed fair). My heart rate recovered a bit but our average speed also dropped. Also his speed didn’t seem all that steady – although that could be the wind. So I ended up tapping his stern a couple of times. After a few times l decided to pull through – my rest ended up only being 1.7 km. After the turn we got a good look at the other racers – the guy in the stellar was a few minutes back, and Dennis was pulling Paul D a few minutes behind him. 

After they had all gone by, I made Pete take another pull. Once again, I got a bit of recovery, but once again I got impatient and pulled through after just a short while. But by now the short rests were starting to tell on me and it wasn’t very much longer before Pete pulled through without any prompting on my part. The entire final 4km I was either on Pete’s stern wake or beside him. At one point, we got hit by a gigantic side wake and I made the mistake of trying to get some surf from it. Pete didn’t – he just took it without altering course. By the time it was passed, I was a boat length behind him and 20 meters to his side. It was an effort to get back to him, and then we were in the shallow water just before the channel. I faded really badly, or maybe Pete put the hammer down early. The water there was so slow you couldn’t compare your speed in that area with the speed in the deep – we’d been making around 11 km/hr in the deep, now we were barely making 9.5 in spite of being in a sprint. Pete got at least two boat lengths on me. But as it got a bit deeper in the creek I started clawing it back. Pete said afterwards that he thinks he started his sprint early and faded – I don’t know, I must know I was sprinting as hard as I’ve ever sprinted. And the final result is that at the line I was about a foot behind him. Close but no cigar. 

So what’s my take away? 

  • It was nice to be in a strategic side by side battle again – most races I’m chasing one guy and trying not to get caught by the guy behind me. I think the last time it was like this was last year’s Long Lake race where I was in a pack with Mike Littlejohn and Roger Gocking. 
  • I’ve got to be more patient when I’m riding wake and less generous when taking my pull. The third guy was well behind us, so there was no reason to kill myself to go fast. If I’d gone 10.3 km/hr instead of 10.6 into the wind, I might have had some more energy going down wind.
  • Pete is turning into a formidable opponent. I’m going to have to work hard to stay close to him.

By the way, other than that one notification at the one kilometer mark, the new GPS is great. I really like it.