Sunday, September 19, 2010

No Longer A Novice! (Part 2)

Last Monday I posted the first part of a guest post by my buddy Becky. I got to hear a bit more during our surf session yesterday, which, by the way was incredibly awesome. Seriously. I told Becky that part two was going up on Monday but here we are a day early - enjoy!

At one point in the race our seat 3 notices that the forward iaku is starting to get loose. They tighten the strap down but only have about 1/8th of an inch to work with when we should have had a full inch. This is important in the event of a huli. There is no iaku tail to stand on to help right the canoe, and by not having the Ama straight, it’s like the alignment in your car being off.

On one water change, I ended up getting into seat 2. We’re now about 4 hours into the race. The next water change gets called for seats behind me and I’m thinking "great, on the next water change, I should get a break"… but that doesn’t happen. I was in for a total of 3 pieces which felt like an hour! The escort boat would keep coming up along side the canoe and giving us encouragement but never a word on a change. I’m calling out for a change – but it never happened. My awesome crew-mates talked me through it and kept me going. When my number was finally called, seats 1, 2, & 3 all got to rest. As I jumped out of the canoe and I’m floating in the ocean, I can’t help but think how tired I was. I had no energy to swim to the escort boat… but then I started to think… what if I’m so tired that I start to sink?! That’s when I found the energy to swim to the escort boat. I climb on the escort boat and just lay flat on my back…. So exhausted and my back is starting to hurt from all the twisting. I pop some Motrin, drink some Gatorade and much on some chocolate covered raisins. I was designated to be on a union break on the next water change, so I got to sit out for two pieces (Thank God!!). Our main steerswoman gets her rest during my 2nd piece rest. Our coach decides to do just a seat 6 change (which is very rare), because one of the back-up steerswoman had been there for about 2 hours. Our steerswoman jumps off the escort boat and the canoe get lined up for the change. We’re not really sure what happens, but the person in the water ended up on the starboard side of the canoe (very bad). We then see her start to climb in from the starboard side. All of us on the escort boat are yelling “ABORT, ABORT!!”. So the woman hanging on the canoe releases, but then the steerswoman jumps out of the canoe on the port side! Holy Cow! We have no streerswoman!!! Seat 5 grabs the steering blade and is just poking left and right to keep the canoe straight. Our coach calls out that she needs me. I jump-to, take off my jacket and am ready to go! We get the escort boat lined up, but we’re just too close. We have to re-position… keeping in mind that we still have two paddlers in the water with boats far away from them. We get the escort boat re-aligned, the props are in neutral. I’m told to ‘GO’ and ‘GO’ I do and I swam my tail off to the canoe. I was later told that I walked on water because I swam so fast. I get to, and in the canoe in no time, and we’re off and going. We can see the big island in front of us, and I’m lining up on the casino as my finish line. Our canoe is all novice paddlers, and it becomes emotionally overwhelming as we crossed the finish line and completed the journey together in 5 hours and 47 minutes. For something that we all started back in February was now at an end with this crossing.

We then paddled the canoe over to the beach and on our way we were presented with ice cold beers from our coach. I’m not a beer person, but that was the best beer that I’ve ever had. We all toasted each other for a job well done. We get our canoe to the very rocky beach and are welcome by some of the men from our men’s crew as well as from men from other crews. They take our canoe from the very rocky beach, carry it up and over a 2 ½ foot wall and line them up on a grassy area. Our guys grab our paddles and our male novice coach presented us with a lei. We didn’t come in first, we didn’t come in last, but we did finish.

On the ferry ride home on Saturday night, it was a great time for me to stop and reflect on the day. The journey, the excitement, the grueling 3 pieces where I though that I was going to die. Just sitting on the back of the ferry, The Torquays on the iPod, wind in my hair with the cool breeze on my face and gazing at the stars. As we left Catalina there was a lobster buoy just outside the harbor. It took 6 minutes to get to the buoy on the ferry, yet it took 30 minutes via canoe on our way in.

What an amazing journey and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Thank you Apryl for allowing me to but this experience on paper and for allowing me to share it with you.

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!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ready? Break!

Dear Readers,

If you don't see a new post on here for a few weeks or so don't worry. Everything's fine with me, I'm just trying to simplify my life a bit. If you want to say hello you can always send me a note on Twitter or check out what I've been up to on my posterous blog.

See you soon,