2018 Racing Calendar

I don’t think I did one of these last year. This year, because of the extended unemployment and the fact that I’m currently underemployed, I’m thinking of staying closer to home to save money, and just doing the NYMCRA kayak points races plus the USCA Nationals and Lighthouse To Lighthouse. One thing is that some of these races are far enough away that I’d really want to stay overnight the night before – I wonder if I should buy some camping equipment to save money? I’m also worried about my extended illnesses so far this year – I’ve gotten less than 13.5 hours of training so far this calendar year, and last year at this time I had nearly 55 hours.

So here’s the preliminary schedule.
May 12 – Round the Mountain
June 2 – Tupper Lake 8 Miler
June 9-10 – Madrid Canoe Regatta
July 7 – Armond Bassett
July 14 – Electric City Regatta
July 29 – BluMouLA – BuFuRa
Aug 10-12 – USCA Nationals (The website isn’t clear about what day is what, but I’m thinking of doing Unlimited and Touring this year)
Sept 15 – Lighthouse To Lighthouse
Sept 22 – Long Lake Long Boat Regatta
Sept 30 – Seneca Monster

The ones in bold are the ones I did last year. Last year I also did the “Onandaga Cup”, which was a test run for the USCA Nationals going once around the course. This year we’re doing it twice, and I believe we’re not going to start out in the lake like we did last year.

I’m thinking I might continue to use the V-12 on races where I know it’s going to be very flat, like Armond Bassett and USCA Nationals. I’m thinking about buying or borrowing a V-8 to race the Touring class at the USCA nationals. I’m also toying with the idea of maybe doing the V-8 at Lighthouse To Lighthouse to see if it means I don’t slow to a crawl in the rough bit around the second lighthouse. Either that or paddling the short course in my Sport. Otherwise I’ll stick to the Sport.

I’m hoping this will be a good year for videos. I’m going to set up a public Dropbox in hopes that other paddlers will share their videos – maybe I can make a big overview one showing multiple viewpoints instead of just my own.

2016 Racing Calendar

Last year, I posted my 2015 Racing Calendar and I ended up doing most of the races I’d predicted (I missed Ride The Bull and didn’t finish the Blackburn Challenge). So here is my idea for this year (ones I’m pretty sure I’m going to in bold, ones I’m not sure about in normal):

May 14th: Round the Mountain
June 2nd-5th: TC Surfski Immersion Vacation
June 18th: Ride the Bull
June 26th: Black River
July 9th: Armond Bassett
July 16th: Canadian Surfski Championships
July 18-23th: Gorge Downwind Champs
August 11-14: USCA Nationals – Northfield MA
August 20: Buffalo Paddle Festival
September 17th: Lighthouse To Lighthouse or
September 17th?: Baycreek Kayak and SUP Cup
September 24th: Long Lake Long Boat Regatta.
October 2: Seneca Monster

Last year I used my Thunderbolt for Round The Mountain (RTM) but then put it away and didn’t use it afterwards. I used the V10 Sport for most races, except for Armond Bassett where I used the V12. This year I’d like to try the V12 for RTM, but I need to be more comfortable in wind and waves with it first. Considering how much time I lost getting out of and back into the Thunderbolt on the carry, a ski would be a big advantage for me. I don’t want to risk the V10 Sport on RTM because there is a slippery downhill and I’ve dropped my boat at least twice on it, and the “ultra” layup is fragile as hell. But the V12 is the tougher “performance” layup and should be able to take it.

A thought about EVs (Electric Vehicles)

It’s probably going to be 5 years before we need to buy a new car, but Vicki and I were talking about the new Nissan Leaf and other EVs. With our current driving pattern, we could definitely get by with a two seater EV with 75 miles or so of range, as well as a hybrid or whatever they’re calling the Volt these days. Obviously the state of the art will have advanced by then, but in theory we could get by with what’s available now.

But one thing that gives me pause is heating the cabin. Hybrids and gas engined cars get worse mileage in the winter here in the temperate zone. Part of that is that engines aren’t as efficient in the cold, but also in the case in hybrids, they run the gas engine more often to heat up the engine and the cabin. But EVs are on a pretty limited power budget, and electric heaters suck up electricity like nobody’s business. So what I’m wondering is if EVs currently have the option, or whether I’ve just invented it, to use house power to heat the cabin up before you use it. So if you plug your EV in overnight, it charges the battery, and then an hour or so before you’re scheduled to drive it somewhere, it starts using house power to heat up the cabin. That would save the power in the battery for the important stuff, like driving the wheels and powering your iPod.

Hey, you could even use a peltier cooler to use the house power to cool it in the summer, come to think of it.

I guess for the drive home from work, you’d be stuck using the battery. But no idea is perfect.

Lessons Learned, Mistakes Made, Where To Next?

After a day to think about what happened, and to talk to Mike F, I realize that didn’t have the full picture. That isn’t so surprising, because my ability to look around isn’t all that great at the best of times and when I’m scared shitless I can’t even turn my head to one side or the other for fear of it changing my balance. It turns out that Dan and the rest of the team wasn’t far behind me, and were looking out for me even if I couldn’t see them. Apparently Paul D had dumped in his ski and was having problems getting back in, and Frank was having some sort of difficulty as well. Even Dennis had dumped at some point. So I guess it wasn’t just me, the conditions really were semi hard.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s report, I think the root of my problems started with the dump right at the beginning. While I was near shore so I could get out of the water and dump the water out of the boat, and I dried off pretty quickly in the warm air, I also knew I wasn’t dressed for an extended swim. And dumping out in the distance we were away from shore during the paddle would have meant an extended swim. I also know I can’t get back in that boat in water. Without any bulkheads, the boat fills up with water and even if I could get back in the boat would be too unstable to stay upright.

So what should I have done differently? Obviously I knew I was nervous after the initial dump and felt even worse when Dan said to set course for the light house 5 miles away and almost directly across the swells. But should I have stopped then? I didn’t think so at the time, and I still don’t think it would have been the right decision. Dan has dragged me out of my comfort zone on several occasions, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I can attribute much of my improvement in paddling from some of those sessions. Yesterday, I persevered as best I could, but I just never relaxed. We passed a beach on the way up, and I was honestly thinking of going in there and hitch hiking back to my car. Maybe what I should have done was gone there and just practiced paddling up and down the swells for a while until I felt comfortable enough to try going across them again? Maybe in retrospect I should have stayed back at the original beach doing that. But I didn’t, and it’s too late to change it.

So what should I do differently in the future? First thing first, I need a new paddle shaft. I don’t know how long that’s going to take – that probably depends on whether Lars, the guy who used to be the Brasca rep in the US has any left over inventory. So before that, I need to find a paddle I can borrow without tearing my elbows apart. Secondly, I want to get a surf ski. I was the only guy out there yesterday who wasn’t in one, and Paul D’s troubles notwithstanding, it’s a lot easier to remount a ski than a Thunderbolt – and as Mike pointed out, sometimes just the confidence in your ability to remount it is enough to get you to relax and enjoy the conditions. Baycreek has Dennis’s old V10Sport for sale nice and cheap, but I really think I’m good enough to learn how to paddle a regular V10 (which is skinnier and faster), or at the very least the Ultra layup of the V10Sport (which is lighter than the Value). I actually went for a short paddle in a V10Sport today, and it didn’t feel any less stable than the Thunderbolt. Another thing I need to do is start carrying my paddle float and pump when I’m in the Thunderbolt on the lake. Maybe they won’t help, but they might make me feel more comfortable. I probably should dress warmer in cold water, although I hate being over warm when I’m paddling. I’m not sure what’s the correct clothing option for hot air and cold water, but I need to find something – possibly my Hydroskin shirt, with a pre-emptive dunk in the water before I start so I’m not overheating. Another thing I think I need to invest in is one of those rear-view mirrors you can attach to your hat brim that cyclists use. Being able to see what was going on behind me out of sight might have been a comfort to me when I was freaking out. Another thing is practice, practice, practice. I felt pretty uncomfortable out on the lake in the Looksha in the past, but with practice it got easier and easier. I know that I’m going to get there with the Thunderbolt, and the sooner I can get back out there practicing, the sooner it will come. And the most important thing, though, is to have more confidence in the people around me. I know Dan can get distracted when he’s busy with the other guys, but I should have known that Dan and Mike and the other guys weren’t too far away and would have come quickly if they’d seen me dump. I was pretty hard on Dan yesterday, and now that I’ve had some time to calm down, reflect, and talk to others, I feel bad about that. So Dan, I know you read my blog, and I just want to say I’m sorry for saying you abandoned me.

Need some artistic judgement

I’m thinking of replacing my 17″ Powerbook G4 (aka “AlBook”) with a 17″ MacBook Pro (MBP), although I’m waiting to see if they announce something with the new three-touch touch pad like the MacBook Air (MBA). Rumour has it that they’re waiting for Intel to bring up production levels on a new chip before they do, and that’s why it wasn’t announced at the same time as the MBA.

SnowbirdsThe best feature of my AlBook is that I got a custom “skin” made featuring a picture of the Snowbirds in flight. I took it to the Wings and Wheels air show in St. Catherines last year, and got all the Snowbirds officers (including Snowbird 10 and 11, and their public affairs officer) to sign it. Several of the pilots expressed admiration for it, and asked where they could get one for their own laptops. The skin is made of vinyl, and the web site said you could peel it off, but I very much doubt it would transfer. And I don’t want to risk damaging it, especially since one of the pilots who signed it died in an accident this year. So it’s going to stay on the Albook. But I definitely want one for the new MBP.

I went to the Snowbirds web site and downloaded some of their high resolution promotional pictures, and their logo and wordmark which are available in EPS files, and played around in Photoshop a bit. I definitely wanted one with all 9 planes, and I think I like this one best, but I can’t decide on the placement of the logo and wordmark. First time ever I wished I’d installed that poll plugin, but please look at the following two pictures and tell me in the comments which you prefer. (As always, clicking the thumbnail will take you to a bigger version.)

Option 1 Option 2
Option 1 Option 2

And before you ask, yes, I am procrastinating. I need to re-engineer one of my tables and the classes that use it, and I don’t want to.