Follow up on Oofff!!!
Hate to say it but the medal was kind of a “Gimme”; There were only two of us in that class. So, last place, woohooo… With that up front, it was competitive. I never lost sight of the other paddler, but he was running a home built Night Heron Design which Nick Schade came up with to improve on the Greenland Inuit designs. Hull speed is about 3/4 mph faster than mine and it showed. I never lost sight of him, but he continually pulled ahead of me and by the end of the race, had near a half mile lead on me. Neither of us EVER stopped paddling (other than to grab some water ’cause that wind was drying everyone out. Dry enough that you couldn’t spit!) and he was using a Wing Paddle where I was using my Greenland. There is a performance difference, but I am still impressed that a GP can still compete with a Wing: maybe not beat it, but it will give it a run for its money. Considering the GP was designed by primitive peoples using anthropomorphic measurements, and the Wings are computer designed high tech paddles, I think that says more about “human ingenuity” than mere words here can express.
And there were participation awards as well, but In this case I ain’t giving the promoters any shit about it. Just showing up at the finish line was a challenge and a half!!! There was a kickin’ wind coming out of the west, straight into our faces for the return trip and getting through that was no fun. Cooling, as the splash from the paddles kept the quickly drying sweat washed off the face, but damn!!! what a battle heading up-wind.
Selkie did frigging PERFECT. No splash off the bow!!! She just sliced right in and didn’t matter if it was glass flat or chop or wave sets. Chop did nothing against performance while wave sets played with her stern a bit, and she did surf a wave face or three. Not much, but enough to give the old dude at the paddle a momentary respite, and a small ‘turbo boost’.
What needs changed though? 6.5 miles will tell you something about your design that “isn’t quite right”. In my case, its the bulkhead footrest I came up with. It worked, worked well, but the angle is ALL OFF. My heels went numb fairly early, and I started shifting around trying to make them comfortable and that put the strain on other parts and by the end of the race, I felt like I had a hole bored into my left asscheek. Nothing wrong with my seat pad, it was all about the footrest and that is easy enough to fix.
Even though I felt stiff and unstable for the first mile, that wasn’t ‘a boat issue’: that was a “I’m in need of seat time” issue, and by the end of the first mile, my hips had loosened up and my mind put into ‘sea-legs’ mode and I was fine. Wave-sets off the rear quarter didn’t goose me after that first mile like they did when I started out, and I was paddling smoother with each hundred yards traveled; not the epileptic seizure splash and churn that I started with. I really needed to get A LOT more seat time in before this race, but is what it is, and now I have my mind conditioned for the rest of the paddle season.
B, the indomitable, stubborn persistent bullish paddler he is, came across the line last of the entire group. He had done the long distance run so had to do two laps to my one, and that wind was kickin’ EVERYONES ass. Even the surfski’s were looking rather dogged out when they crossed the line at the last. B was in a Perception Vizcaya (yeah, the blue one I used to own.) and while its a great little recreational boat, B (and meself vicariously) found it ‘It ain’t no race boat’. Great hull design for shallow waters where you want to ride over debris and what not, but seeing the double wake pattern along its gunwales tells me it creates its own drag.* You are fighting the boat to move forward at anything over ‘mild cruise’ (3-4mph). if you go for higher, you have to double your efforts to hold it and that wears you down. B did that for 13 miles of open water, 6.5 of which was in a head wind of at least 8mph with gusting up to 25.
And this was the first big paddle of the season. Wooofffff!!!!
T, bullheaded and stubborn herself, chose to do the same lap as I did, but she did it in her Duck; An inflatable whitewater ‘kayak’. She fought probably twice as hard as B and I did because she was still set up for whitewater, not flat water and the bow of her Duck kept trying to fly off the water when she was headed into the wind. I watched her crossing the bay towards the finish line and a halfway serious gust would lift the front and turn her boat ninety degrees to her heading, and she would have to fight to correct it. She paddled half the race from the kneeling position to keep her weight forward and stop that, but that’s a very hard position to paddle in if you don’t have the ‘saddle’ for it. She did finish, and I could hear the exhaustion in her voice while talking to her afterwards.
That fight she had was why I am saying not giving the promoter shit for the participation awards. Just crossing the finish line yesterday was a challenge and those that did, deserve something ‘just for showing up to the fight’.
Damned good day out, and I mentioned to B that I hadn’t felt this relaxed since around August of last year. I need to get out to the Church of the Two Bladed Paddle a whole lot more often. The world seems brighter today for it.
* In comparison, in Selkie, I didn’t see the first wake wave until well near my cockpit, while moving at nearly 5mph. And it was a lot smaller than the wave the Viz was making: it never rose to the gunwales like what I saw on the Viz. No way to change the design of his boat, but I am certain he will keep in mind what its capable of, and more importantly what it is NOT capable of, in the future.
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