Monday, September 13, 2010

No Longer A Novice! (Part 1)



It was Saturday night and I got a text message from one of my favorite surfing buds. She was obviously stoked beyond recognition and could not wait to get me this guest post about her experience. She's so stoked that this will be a two part story.

Becky first wrote about her outrigger experiences for us back in April. Following is the culmination of her rookie year in the sport:


Many months ago, I started on an amazing new adventure of outrigger paddling. Throughout the course of the season, we had races from San Diego to Avila Beach in the California Central Coast.

The first handful of races are called “Ironman”. As a novice, our races were only 4-5 miles which took us at least 45 minutes to complete. Next year when we’re in the Open Division, our races will be 10-12 miles and up to 2 hours long! We had some tough races, and for most races I steered. When steering, the main objective is to keep the canoe straight and to keep the canoe upright. There were one or two races where I was actually paddling and I thought that I was going to die! I just didn’t have the muscle conditioning to paddle for 45 minutes straight!! A lot of the races I didn’t get the crew that I wanted to be with, but I was with the crew that I needed to be with. We had a race in Marina Del Rey and I had a co-ed crew with a pick-up paddler (from another club). The swells coming up the channel were huge! Other clubs were huli’ing left and right! And to make matters worse, they were up against the jetty rocks. I stayed towards the middle of the channel where it wasn’t as dangerous. Still very rough, yes almost huli’d but we made it back to the beach safe in 1 hour and 13 minutes.

The next set of races are sprint races and are pretty intense. These require paddling as hard as you can for 250 yards. They are broken into heats and the top teams from each heat advance to the next round. Our crew missed moving on to the next heat by 1 second in our first sprint race of the season. Total bummer.

The best is saved for last… 9-man!! 6 people in a canoe, 3 jump out, and 3 others climb in the canoe from the water. The first 9man race was put on by our own club. I was in a co-ed crew with an awesome coach. It didn’t matter how we placed. We were just stoked to be in the water and to be racing. Our inaugural race was captured on video thanks to an injured teammate. We had races in Oceanside where the water was super warm, and a race in Oxnard where the water was super cold with reports of sharkies in the area.

The final race of the season was from Newport Dunes to Avalon Catalina. My alarm goes off at 4am to leave the house by 5am and meeting up with my crew by 6am… all but one are my fellow novice Kaikua'ana. The start line is in the open ocean which is 3 miles from the dunes where the canoes are located. I started the race on the escort boat was able to sit back and take it all in which was simply amazing. Seeing close to 80 canoes with 80 chase boats was an amazing site. The horn sounds at 8:35am and all the canoes are off and racing. We had a great start and were hanging pretty good with our other club boats. We get ready for our first water change, and me and my 2 other paddle-mates jump off the escort boat and start to line up. As the canoe gets closer, our coach notices that it’s the wrong boat. It’s our club, but not our canoe. We had to swim back to the escort boat and get back on board. It was only a couple of minutes later that we had a successful water change. I climb into seat 1 and we’re off and running. I know that it’s going to be a long race but I have so much adrenaline that we’re just flying! As time passes the pack of the canoes starts to thin out, which makes water changes a little safer. We had a fairly boring passage. No signs of marine life. No dolphins, no whales, no sea lions… thank God no sharkies!

Stay tuned for part two coming soon!

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

That sports sounds really hard core! Wow, you must be in great shape! I go kayaking from time to time, and that is hard work for me. I am not much of a paddler.