Wednesday, May 28, 2014

California 100

I didn't race in the California 100 this year.  Not for lack of desire, but rather because I took on the role of Race Director for Rivers for Change, the hosting non-profit group founded by Danielle Katz and John Dye.  Although I didn't paddle the 100 mile stretch with 100+ others, I certainly had a weary weekend of my own with late nights, early mornings, highs, lows and everything in between.  I met a bunch of new paddlers, strengthened some friendships and got reminded how cool the paddling community can be.  

For those not familiar with the California 100, the concept is simple.  Test your skill, stamina, physical and mental limits on the Sacramento River for one-hundred river miles of paddling in one continuous race.  It takes 10-20 hours and you stop at 3 checkpoints along the way.  As simple as the Cal 100 is, it's far from easy.  

To start, racers are dealing with class II whitewater along the course.  The sections are short and staggered, but skill plays into these sections immensely.  If you have it, you'll succeed.  If you don't, you'll either get lucky or you'll get worked.  But, no worries, because it's all downhill and eventually you'll float into calmer water.  Get through the rapids and tackle the straights.  Water reading is still essential since staying in the fast water flow is critical for a good time.  Feed and hydrate yourself or else.  Condition yourself ahead of time - aka, train for this race.  Carry the required equipment.  Be prepared to take care of yourself on the river - broken fin, holed board, separated from your board, lost? 

It's an epic undertaking and over 130 people accepted the challenge.  That's a 30% growth from 2013 and the SUP category was up over 200% this year.

Check out some of the pics and set your sights for this challenge next year!

safety briefing.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.

I didn't get to race with the BPC, but cheering them on was good enough.

I think Janet smiled the entire way.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.

With Danielle Katz.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.
So proud of this one.  Fellow Focus SUP Hawaii ambassador Adrianna Baca completing the 33-mile leg of the race.
Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Sean Morley won the kayak class and was going strong.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.
Tom Biglione - the only solo canoeist in the race.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Brian Thomas - only prone paddleboarder brave enough.  Photo by Lisa Thomas.

Monday, May 5, 2014

one IN, one OUT

One in, one out.  Google that and you'll get a few versions of its meaning.  It's an unofficial rule that some people follow, like minimalists and dispensaries.  In an attempt to downsize and reduce the amount of gear and clutter I call my own, I've applied it to my paddle craft.  If I get rid of a board, I have my own permission to get a new one, so that's what I did.

This morning I took her out for the first ride and let her make some of those extremely important first impressions on me.  I'm very happy.  This new Cali 14 by Focus SUP Hawaii is exactly what I've been looking for.  14 feet long, 27 inches wide, 5 inches thick, 265 liters.  Carbon layup, 24 pounds.  Sweet deck setup, simple lines, excellent volume distribution with a low-volume nose and the perfect tail.  

I'll be posting more as I get a chance to give it a thorough review, but for now, know that it's light, fast, stable & predictable and I'm digging it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fun on the Russian

photo by John Burgess, Press  Democrat

East Bay sup / CCK sup / BPC / TBD sup did awesome at the Russian River Race this weekend in Healdsburg.  Organizers put on the Drought Edition this year due to low water on the river.  The 15-mile course was cancelled, but the 5-mile was still on with almost 200 paddlers.  Leading up to May 3rd, water levels slowly rose and presented a very runnable river leaving just a few areas of shallow water to portage or scrape over.

Last year I paddled the 15-mile course on a standup board and finished third.  But, my board did not fair well, coming home with a damaged fin and two holes.  No problem, all was repaired.  This year, however, knowing water levels could be even lower, I opted to race in a solo canoe.  Turns out I was the only person to enter solo canoe so I was added to the Men's Single Kayak division.  I felt slightly disadvantaged, but didn't care too much as this race is more about the fun than the competition.  Of course, I can get a little competitive on the water, so I went hard anyways.  

I got a good start and hit the narrow river in fourth.  I quickly moved into third and drafted one and two for a couple minutes.  These guys were going hard, but weren't fast enough, so I moved over and went for the pass on both of them.  As I passed right, three others moved up the left, also passing.  As we all moved back in line, I ended up back in fourth position, but with three fast paddlers in front of me.  They all slowly dropped me, but I caught ground in a few areas where I made better reads on the channels and found more fast water.  Nearing the end, I reeled third in to just a few boat lengths.  I could see the finish and increased my pace to put the pressure onto him.  Well, it worked because he crossed a slight eddyline and began to turn, against his will.  That was my chance and as he started to spin he noticed me about to overtake him and panicked.  That little panic was enough of a chance for me to pass him in the last 200 feet.  

So, 55 minutes 06 seconds later, I crossed the finish line third in a field of 23 kayakers with the 6th fastest time overall.  You know what they say about canoeists?  Half the paddle, twice the paddler!

In the end, our crew walked away excited with armloads of swag.  Nice job crew!

Women's SUP
  • 1st - Laury Croter, 1:05:30
  • 2nd - Lucija Hadziselimovic, 1:12:52

Men's SUP
  • 1st - John Walsh, 52:50
  • 3rd - Mitch Silverstein, 58:14

Men's Single Kayak
  • 3rd - Matt Palmariello, 55:06

Laury (1st - women's sup) & Mitch (3rd - men's sup)

Celebratory high five as Lucija crosses the finish line.  John (1st - men's sup), Lucija (2nd - women's sup)