12/8/2014

The Long Strange Trip Paddle Race……The Race Within The RACE!

Yet another stellar race put on by Cort and David at 101 Surf Sports. Yes there were many folks behind the scenes that made this race one to remember, so we thank all of the sponsors, volunteers and safety support. From my vantage point this race went off without a hitch. Here is the race by the numbers…..

Start Time: 9:12am, yes it started 3 minutes early!

Total on the water scored competitors: 62 according to Paddle Guru (SUP, OC-6,OC-2,OC-1, Prone, SeaKayak, Surfski)

Weather: partly cloudy but mild temps

Water Conditions: Flood tide with a max flood at 10:46am. Water was calm with bit of a south wind bump.

Total Distance: 12:74mile according my SUUNTO Ambit 2 GPS

Total Race Time: 2:04:27

Paddle Craft Raced: Puakea OC-1

Video from the start of race using the Garmin VIRB

Story:  The Race Within The Race

The 3rd Annual Long Strange Trip Paddle race started out on a partly cloudy morning in Horseshoe Cove at Ft. Baker in Sausalito.  60 plus paddlers gathered to race from Ft. Baker to the 101 Surf Sports World HQ on the San Rafael Creek, about a 13 mile paddle.  The original name of this race was the Ride the Tide since we were riding the flood tide all the way into the bay and eventually ending at 101 Surf Sports.  Hopefully  we would have enough tidal push to get us to the finish in a quicker than normal slack tide race. Could a standup paddler finish the race in under 2 hours?  As we sat in the cove awaiting the start I wondered myself how long it would take me in an outrigger canoe. Could I in fact break 2 hours?

It was a mass start with every paddle craft represented, OC-6, OC-2, OC-1, Prone, SurfSki, SUP, and  probably a sea kayak thrown in the mix. All of the competitors pushed out  through the mouth of the cove and hung a left towards Angel Island. The races within the race started to form right from the get go. I marked Fred Andersen who was also paddling OC-1, he was off my front port side. I moved further into the flood tide which seemed to improve my overall speed. As the race went on finding the flood would prove to be part of a winning formula. Bojan Bernard aka BB in the 14ft sup class was taking the inside line towards Raccoon Straits, he was behind me off to port, he was in a race all to himself, breaking two hours was his finish line, I could tell this guy was on a mission. Not too far behind BB was Grant McFadyen also in the 14ft sup class was off to my starboard side staying way outside in the flood tide, he was also pushing hard to catch BB but 2nd place would be his prize for today as BB was pulling ahead of both of us and not slowing down. Two other 14st sup class racers who were a  couple minutes off Grant’s pace were Jean Rathle and Rune Hoyer Nielsen. Jean and Rune were neck and neck all the way to the finish, they finished a with a couple of seconds between them. Charlie Banfield also in a OC-1 paddled out off  front and was going so fast he had a rooster tail off the back of his canoe. Behind me there were other races happening, the race between the men  in the 12’6″ SUP class, Haakon Hoyer Neilsen, John Walsh and Michael Melville were battling and Jen Fuller was in the mix as a vicious game of drafting came into play. At the finish line  the 18 year old Haakon prevailed over John Walsh followed by Melville and Jen Fuller.

As all of these racers were battling it out I was battling Fred Andersen, I had a pretty good lead on Fred but I did not mark him for a few minutes and next thing I knew Fred had taken an inside line into San Rafael Creek and was gaining fast. Thats what you get for not paying attention but I was still ahead and finished ahead of him by a mere 2o seconds. As I pulled my canoe out of the water I was listening to the cheers as paddlers came across the finish line. Everyone putting everything they had on the line to finish this race. Paddlers who had never paddled over 10 miles were finishing with huge smiles on their faces, they had ramped their paddling to the next level.

Fractions Of A Second Separate The Top On The Long Strange Trip-story by David Wells @ 101 Surf Sports

101 Surf Sports puts on some of the best run races here in Northern CA. The races always go off on time, the results are usually correct (in some cases Paddle Guru can cause David Wells a headache), the safety factor is always at the highest level and the awards party just rocks it. These guys know how to make sure you have a good time on and off the water. Many thanks to the crew at 101 Surf Sports.

Above Photo Credit: Capt. Ron Steinau