Monday, April 27, 2015

Tomales Downwind Camp

Months ago I got an email from Jeff Burton that basically said "we should put on a downwind camp."  Time passed and we brainstormed, put together a basic curriculum and eventually evolved the idea into a 3-day Tomales Bay Downwind Camp with friends who were interested in learning more, getting some focused practice, sharing ideas and having some fun.  It was an unofficial beta test for any potential future courses offered to the public.  What actually happened did not got to plan, but it didn't matter because we ended up having just a fun, refreshing weekend with a handful of dedicated paddlers with positive attitudes and a willingness to go with the wind, and the flow.

On Thursday evening I arrived to the hostel to realize there is no phone service (expected) and no wifi (not expected).  So I backtracked to Point Reyes Station and camped at the library for a few hours to finish some work before focusing my long weekend on paddling.  We approached Friday without an outline but with a general plan of collaboration and peer-coaching among the group.  Since the first run took way longer than anticipated and the wind sort of blew out while we were on the water, our 2-run intentions turned into a 1-run day.  The tail end of the wind passed and the calm before the storm came in.

It rained hard that night and we woke to increasing winds on Saturday morning.  We blasted through run 1 pretty quickly and everyone did really well.  Everyone is at a different level and was working on different things, but we still managed to function as a group.  At the Marconi Cove takeout we had some lunch in the sun, sang Gretchen a song (Happy Birthday Gretchen!) and shuttled back to Nick's Cove for a second run, this one with faster wind and bigger conditions.  Later we found out that others didn't fair so well on the bay that day and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Dept pulled off two separate rescues, helping 5 people in distress that day. .  Over pizza and drinks we discussed goals, attitudes, paddling theory and how much fun the bumps were.

Sunday was mellow with just four of us left on the water and small, defined bumps to chase.  Since we were all solid, I went all out and paddled hard until Marconi, gliding as much as I could along the way and linking some good ones.

Overall, we learned quite a bit about the venue and the logistics of offering such a course to the public. Tomales Bay has great wind, but little protection.  Not a great place for beginners, but an excellent location for paddlers with solid fundamental skills, proper equipment and the desire to get better and learn to downwind.  Future course or not, this was a fun weekend and a great chance to bond further with some good people and good paddlers.  I was just stoked to spend some time with friends and to see people improving their paddling skills in the wind.  Next April we'll be back.

Thank you Jason, Rosebud and Mister for shuttling our asses.  Photo: Jeff Burton

Marion aka 'SUP Glider'

of course there was some hooping by Gretchen - she rocked it this weekend.  Photo: Jeff Burton

It was a pleasure to paddle with Craig.  Photo: Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton of

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sea Otter Classic 2015

For two weeks every April, Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA becomes my home.  The Sea Otter Classic brings me back year after year because the people are awesome, the work is rewarding and it's just plain fun.  I get to re-connect with folks I see once a year and create a new set of memories for the next.

This year was extremely smooth running and was a little special since it was the 25th Anniversary of the event.  In those years it has grown to be the biggest & best bike event of its kind with over 50,000 people attending.  Checkout 25 years of Sea Otter.

Dual Slalom

Cyclocross @ Sea Otter
fancy coffee drinks!