Sunday, October 12, 2014

Racing Wrap Up

Fall has finally arrived and that means the end of (my) SUP race season.  Time to focus on windsurfing, SUP downwinders, and SUP surfing again.  Late summer had my family & I participating in some SUP races - the Colonial SUP Cup in New Bern NC,  the Quadzilla Race at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte NC, the Chucktown Showdown in Charleston SC, and the Lake Murray SUP Classic in Columbia SC.  All the races were very well organized and were a lot of fun.  A big thanks to all the race organizers and volunteers...they all did a great job.  Here is a summary wrap up with pics:

The Colonial SUP Cup was held in New Bern, NC in late August on a hot windless day.  This was one of the few windless races I've raced in.  The joke amongst my windsurfing friends is if I'm doing a SUP race, they know they'll be able to go windsurfing that day.  Not this time.  My daughter and I made it a father/daughter road trip and had a great time together.

The first five photos below are courtesy of StandUp Outfitters in New Bern NC...more pictures here.


McIntyre leading the youth girls race



battling it out




finishing 4th in the 7 mile race (Men's 14')...missed the podium by 5 seconds.  I felt good in this race.



My girl finished 2nd overall in the 3.5 mile (Womens 12'6") race, and 1st in Juniors race



The very cool medal given to all the finishers


The Quadzilla Race was very unique.  Held at the US National Whitewater Center, its a team relay race with 1) 1.5 mile SUP sprint (me),  2) whitewater kayaking down the two whitewater channels (Jay),  3) mountain bike on 5.5 miles of single track trails (Jon), and finally 4) all three of us jump in a raft and paddle down the competition whitewater channel.



Had a good start but Pete (blue board) passed me at the very end when I made a mistake rounding a bit wide on the last turn.


The 400 yard run up the hill after the SUP sprint was not one of my strengths.  I was gassed!



Here we are...our team coming down the competition channel.  We got sucked into an eddy at the very end that took us about 5 or 6 tries to get out of it.  Meanwhile we got passed by another team in the process.  The only flawless performance on our team was Jon on his mountain bike.  We ended up finishing 3rd and laughing about all the high jinx that ensued throughout our race.  This was a really fun event.







2014 Chucktown Showdown in beautiful Charleston, SC - it was a family affair....including lugging all these boards for everyone.


I had been training and paddling in some humidity this summer and thought I had acclimated to it, but this day in Charleston was a whole new level of humidity.  I was sweating when I got out of the car to unload the boards that morning and right away knew I was in trouble. 



The Mens' 9 mile race start - a lot of racers made for a crowded and choppy start.



The Womens' 4 mile race start - that's my girl McIntyre out front with the hole shot.



McIntyre finishing strong - 8th in Womens' 12'6" overall and 1st in 17U Women.



About all I can say is I finished the 9 mile race - It definitely wasn't one of my best races - very tough with the strong currents, chop, and heat/humidity.  No excuses - it gave me some things to remember for next time...a good (re)learning lesson in several facets of racing, including the mental part of it.

The race course was very cool - it started in the Ashley River and took us out past The Battery/Historic Charleston, well into the Charleston Harbor and back.



It took me a while to recover after this race.  Thank goodness for coconut water!



Time for the kids race!


The start



...and they're off!



My two sons battling it out at the buoy turns



The look of determination




I am very blessed and grateful that my kids are water people too.  Sharing this with my family means so much.



McIntyre on the podium - very proud of her


Last but not least, the Lake Murray SUP Classic, outside of Columbia SC....


McIntyre (right) and her buddy Audrey just before the start of the 3.5 mile race.



The start - that's my 12 yr old son, Jake, on the left.  This was his first 3.5 mile race, finally graduating from the kids races.  I elected to paddle alongside him in this race and give him encouragement (I did the same for McIntyre in her first longer race when she was 12).   

I paddled on my Sean Ordenez Shape (SOS) Big Blue 10'10" all around board....the first board I raced on back in spring of 2008 (Coastal Urge SUP Cup spring race in Wrightsville Beach).  Makes me want to get back to the basics again and just race in the all around/surf board division.



Jake digging in



Paddling by the Lake Murray dam



Working on his buoy turns





Here is Jake closing in on the finish.  We were next to last...but he finished and did great.  He was the only kid under 15 yrs old in the race.




McIntyre finished 3rd in the Women's 3.5 mile race




My race board - Bark custom 14' - I love the outline and rocker - it works well in all conditions










Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gorge Strike Mission



The flight path into Portland takes us right over the Columbia River Gorge - this is the right hand side of the plane view - that is Mt Adams (Washington state) in the distance and the town of Hood River (center right just below the river).  On the left side of the plane, you could see Mt Hood very close up.  In fact, the summit was above the plane.


My family and I had planned for a week in Hood River this summer, but some conflicts came up and we had to change up our summer vacation plans (hence Montana & Wyoming back in June).  But I couldn't let summer 2014 go by without getting out to Hood River again.  So I did another "strike mission" - a quick in & out for 4 days of wind, waves, and trails.  

Rob and I perfected it last year.  We fly into Portland, Oregon on a Friday night after work, stay at an airport hotel, get up early the next morning and get our rental car at the airport, then drive the 1 hr east to Hood River and do whatever the conditions permit for 4 whole days, then take the red-eye flight back Tuesday evening, then we're back home and at work Wednesday morning.  Only miss 2 days of work and minimal time away from the family.  The red-eye flight is always uncomfortable and I'm tired on Wednesday but then recovered by Thursday - still totally worth it and I'd do it again.



Got to sail a new spot - Viento, about 8 miles west of Hood River.  Beautiful spot.



My rental gear from Big Winds - Starboard Kode 94 liter freestyle wave board & Naish Force 4.7



the drive over the Hood River/Washington bridge back into Hood River, OR.   Mt Hood in the distance.

Rob couldn't make it this year but I was able to hook up with 3 other local Charlotte windsurfers - Alan, Donald, & Demetri who were staying out there all week.  The 4 days I was there consisted of 2 days of marginal 6.0 windsurfing (at Doug's Beach & The Hatchery), a day of killer mountain biking on the Syncline Trails, a nice hike up Starvation Ridge Loop for some great views, and the last day was busy - started with 2 hours of 4.7 windsurfing (~25mph wind for my non-windsurfing friends) at Viento, then did an 8 mile SUP downwinder, followed by another 1/2 hour of 4.7 windsurfing at the Event Site before calling it a day.

As always, the Columbia River Gorge area always provides opportunities for just about any outdoor recreation possibility....wind or no wind.   In fact, the weather forecast wasn't looking so good for wind before we left NC, so Donald and I were pursuing the idea of climbing Mt Adams for a couple days, including a backpacking overnighter.  I was also going to go to Timberline to do some summer snow skiing.  But you never know about the weather - the wind did show eventually.  




Syncline mountain bike trail map (Washington side)

The following pics are from the Syncline Trails...great views overlooking the Columbia River towards Oregon...Demetri (in red), Donald (long sleeve blue), and I...





We rented Santa Cruz demo bikes at Hood River Bicycles - this one is 27.5" wheels, a fun ride.














This is the hike up Starvation Ridge Loop, near Viento State Park on the Oregon side.  It's a 3-4 mile loop and strenuous hike up many switchbacks to get to the view at the top...then a beautiful waterfall at the bottom....







biggest anthill I've ever seen - as big as a small car (Smart car size) - millions of ants crawling all over every single square millimeter of it.



Demetri and Donald at Viento




This is at the Hood River Event Site - check out the foil kiteboarder - saw a few of them out there.






After missing out last year, I had a goal to finally do a SUP downwinder on the Columbia River.  Finally achieved that goal thanks to the Big Winds shuttle.  They take you from the Hood River Event Site to Viento and drop you off for the 8 mile paddle back.  The van and trailer was packed with 14 fun and stoked paddlers with their boards.  As I anticipated, this now makes my choices that much harder on windy days.  This was....so....much....fun!



Launching at Viento



I was on the Imagine 14' Kalama Downwind board - 29" width for great stability and tons of rocker for the big swells...this was a fun ride and easy to maneuver on the swells.



If you've ever done a Dave Kalama paddle technique clinic, you know these are two of his biggest words to remember - Reach & Breathe!





You get a good idea of the swell size in this pic.  They were bigger in other sections of the river and get much bigger when the wind blows 30-40mph+.  The wind was blowing 25mph+ this day.  They won't run the shuttle unless it's blowing at least 20-25mph.   For those of you that don't know, the predominant wind direction here is westerly.  The river flows east.  The opposing wind and river current creates the big swells.  If the wind isn't blowing hard, this same paddle route would be a real tough up river & against the current paddle. 





Here are my favorite restaurants from my last 3 visits:
Bettes Place - get the smoked salmon breakfast burrito to fuel up for the day
Double Mountain - best local beer & pizza
Full Sail Brewing - great beer & burger, salmon fish & chips also very good.
Kaze - sushi
Everybodys Brewing - (across the river in White Salmon WA), also great local beer & food, get the pulled pork nachos.
Hood River Taqueria - best Mexican (located in the Heights district)
Everyone loves these 2 food trucks but they never seem to be open when I go by there so check their hours: Four & Twenty Blackbirds (burritos) & Lampoei's (Thai)
More upscale: 3 Rivers Grill, Celilo, Brians Pourhouse
Several good coffee shops downtown




Here is a short video I made from the 2013 trip....