Warning! May contain tall tales A brief and colorful history of the legendary Texas Water Safari
A veteran tandem teamâ€™s encounter with a gator
Kai and Lauren Bartlett each win titles at top OC1 race in Hawaii
The history of the Texas Water Safari by West Hansen
photo by David Dobbins
THE Texas alligator story
Representing the USA with a smile and a great stroke
Read about two veteran Safari racers, Tom Goynes and Red Motley, and an encounter with what they believe was the granddaddy gator of Texas ... or so thatâ€™s how West Hansen tells it!
Two Yanks cross the pond to paddle their way into a few hearts and onto the podium of one of the most prestigious races in Europe, the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race. David Kelly and Carter Johnson take third place in the senior doubles division.
Page 28 3
More Inside Women in Racing Part two of the story of Ginsie Stauss, Texas Water Safari regular and part of a small sisterhood of celebrated Safari finishers.............................................................Page 8
Coach’s Corner Chuck McHenry gives a primer on the body’s energy systems racers should consider when training..............................................................................................Page 10
Running the Safari ... from the sidelines Through the insights of two veterans, Joe Mann gives us a glimpse into the ordeal of being a team captain for Texas Water Safari racers.....................................Page 18
Some personal glimpses into the Texas Water Safari West Hansen, Texas Water Safari veteran and multiple MR340 record holder, tells of a few first-person anecdotes as a Safari racer..............................................Page 20
Bartletts take biggest OC1 prize ... again Lauren and Kai Bartlett amaze many as both win the Steinlager Kaiwi Solo World Championships in Hawaii in conditions that broke the spirit of some of the toughest paddlers in the world........................................................................................Page 26
Canoe & Kayak Racing Canoe & Kayak Racing is a bimonthly electronic magazine containing news, articles and features about events, paddlers, training, race results and other information about canoe and kayak racing in the United States. CKR seeks to promote canoe and kayak racing with editorial and promotional content designed to inform, educate and motivate beginners and experienced paddlers of all ages. Each issue will cover a wide range of editorial and promotional content from tips and how to articles to race reports and feature stories. CKR regularly accepts by-lined editorial submissions with the right of final editing for style, tone, length and voice. Editorial and graphical content may not be used in any form, printed or digital, without permission of the editor with attribution. CKR is posted bimonthly at http://issuu.com/ckrmagazine.
Editor: Race profile: Wave Chaser Paddle Series Craig Tanner, surf ski racer in California, gives us the low down on this famous San Francisco race series.........................................................................................Page 30
Different strokes for different folks Wally Werderich, in a multipart series, gives a primer on boat specifications and will also interview boat builders around the country to find out what’s on their mind and where the game is headed..........................................................................Page 34
Lone South African takes Moloka’i Hank McGregor battles the Ka’iwi Channel in flat conditions to take the 2009 Epic Moloka’i Word Championship leading from start to finish.............................Page 38
Cover: The Four Horsemen (Richard Steppe, West Hansen, Philippe Blouin and John Baltzell) lower their racing canoe over Luling Zedler Mill Dam during the 2006 Texas Water Safari. Photo by Jerry Brown. 4
Contributors this issue: Chuck McHenry, Coach’s Corner West Hansen, correspondent Joe Mann, correspondent Stephen Mahelona, correspondent Wally Werderich, correspondent Craig Tanner, correspondent
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From the Editor Before you dive into the content of this issue of Canoe & Kayak Racing, I hope you indulge me for a moment to thank all those paddlers and readers who have sent us a kind word or encouraging message about the inaugural issue. We’ve received some great feedback about the March/April issue and we promise to work hard to not disappoint you with our future issues. This issue is a dandy! It was clear there seemed to be a pockets of racing around the country and a few dedicated sanctioning organizations. But, it appeared to me that racing was somewhat unconnected. This especially is the case between different forms of racing. Regardless of the reason for the disconnectedness, some of us thought that these worlds would benefit by being better allied. This would help paddlers learn more about each others’ worlds and foster participation in each others’ events. The problem was, it required a bachelor’s degree in research science to find out what was going on in other racing disciplines and learn how to get on board (pun intended). So, in that environment I thought that an online publication could make some ground bringing together different racing disciplines around the country. Not every issue of CKR will have an article about every form of racing, but we will seek to cover as much as we can. I’m also not deluded to think this publication will meet everyone’s needs and cover every racing topic out there. For example, CKR will largely be a U.S.-centric magazine with only the occasional international event or personality appearing here. I also want to acknowledge that this magazine would not exist if it weren’t for the visionaries and keepers of the Texas Water Safari and the Missouri River 340. Yes, the magazine is more than just reporting about these two races. However, these two races are the headwaters from which this publication sprang into broader realms of racing, connecting communities of people much as our nation’s great rivers connected people in earlier times. Now, before my metaphors get too cheesy (too late!), I invite you to contact any of the contributors or me with your thoughts or ideas. We hope CKR serves as a hub or connecting point for paddlers, therefore, we encourage communication at all levels. Personally, that’s what I love about paddlers. No matter how successful they become as racers, they are willing to talk and share with even the weekend enthusiast. So, no matter the shape or configuration of your boat, we hope that CKR gives you something you find useful or entertaining. God bless, Dan “Osprey” Grubbs email@example.com http://issuu.com/ckrmagazine 6
Women in Racing Finding Our Rhythm (l-r) Garrett Lewis, Ginsie Stauss and Debbie Richardson
Part two of our conversation with
we all strive for it, want it and thus with strength training and dedication there are a few women who actively compete against some of the better male paddlers, Erin Magee is a good example. CKR: In a sport dominated numerically by men, do women compete against men or simultaneous with them? Stauss: Numerically there really are a lot more men in endurance canoeing, at least that has been my experience. But the number of women who are out there are growing. The learning curve once a woman first dips her blade into the water to when she is racing, is much faster than it used to be. There are a bunch of incredible new women racers who have crossed over from adventure racing and bring their own sense of competition with them. Generally a paddler’s main concern is to finish before the others in their class or to better their own time. But for sure the competition is always there, and while I can only speak from my experience, I can say that it feels good to pass another team regardless of who they are. Yet, it does not feel good to be passed by anyone. I do not believe the fastest women could ever be as fast as the fastest men in an all out sprint race, but still
However, women can team up to compete. They can be more competitive by racing with other women, with men, someone with more experience, and can race in a variety of classes, using different boats and paddles. In an ultra-endurance canoeing event, a multitude of things can happen to any team along the way to slow them way down. Experience can go a long way. CKR: What about you, do you get a different charge out of passing a man than you do passing a woman? Stauss: Pretty much no. Once I do pass someone I try to look for the next person to pass. I even try to say some words of encouragement as I go by. In shorter races you are fighting the clock. In long races you very well could see that team again. Perhaps you encounter a problem that slows you down. Then, there they come and they pass you. Also, teams burn themselves out the first day of a race and be way out in front only to be passed by a team on the second or third day that used a different strategy. It’s not over, till you cross the finish line.
CKR: Are there any special considerations women have regarding paddle racing? Stauss: It is rare in everyday life to talk openly about how to pee in a cup. Nothing else really dramatic, chaffing around the bra line is the biggest concern. I use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste everywhere a seam touches and anywhere that might be wet for an extended period of time. Other than that your cycle could get a bit messed up after paddling straight for days on end. CKR: What have you learned from paddling with other women? Stauss: That a woman determined cannot be stopped. I have seen women paddlers start at the very beginning and within one year develop into true competitors. I’ve learned that you can begin, or begin again, at any age. Even though we are competitors, women paddlers are full of encouragement and congratulations for each other no matter the situation. Sometimes the competition can be fierce, but when it is all over, women usually leave that aggression on the river and are genuinely happy for the first place teams, determined though to come back and win the next time. CKR: What should women avoid in their own development as paddlers?
Stauss: Following the directions of someone else rather than what they feel and know is right for them. Also, everyone needs to take time for recovery to prevent injuries and burnout. However, laying off during the winter is not good practice. Stay active all year. Work on conditioning and strength training in the winter. Avoid hand me downs of equipment that may be practically free but is not the right size for you. I paddled for years with blades that were meant for someone much taller than I am. My shoulder still pinches from time to time … and I still need work on correcting my stroke because of that. If you start out with a boat that is way too tippy for you, you can’t really have much fun. Build up to that faster, skinny boat. The last thing I can think of to avoid in a woman’s development as a paddler is getting discouraged. You won’t be the fastest right away. Don’t ever quit. Measure your own progress with personal goals rather than against the top paddlers. This is hard to do as getting passed can be demoralizing, but it will come to you if you stick with it. CKR: Do you have a paddling mentor you look up to? Stauss: I have been pondering this question over and over in my head. If I were to list all the people I look up to in this sport it would be a long list and I know I would leave someone important out. Since this article is primarily to inspire new women paddlers I have one mentor and one friend I have to go with. Marie McKay always comes to my mind. In 1990 she was paddling in her second solo attempt during my first Texas Water Safari. At the time the Safari was 28 years, old but only one other woman, Kathy Derrick, had ever finished the Safari solo. The night had come. I was feeling ill, and the MRE food I was trying to eat was looking like vomit. I was lying in my boat to avoid the fire ants and searching for the courage to move out into the night on a river I had never seen before and had no idea what lay in store for me. My team captain, Villa Brewer, came over with a message she received from Marie, miles and miles ahead of me
We had only met briefly before the race, yet she took the time to send her encouragement. She said that in her first solo race she had stopped for the night at the same place where I was. That she would see me at the finish line. Somehow that has always stuck with me. I still try to follow her lead, carry a can of Beenie-Weenies for a good meal at her suggestion and encourage rather than discourage anyone trying to complete this race. Not too many people thought I had even a slight change to finish that year. So much of it is mental. A kind word can make all the difference. Villa helped me throughout that 95-hour race, never letting me down, ready with a suggestion to get me to the next spot. During that stop she let me know that she was going on to Palmetto and if I wasn’t there by dawn she was signing me out of the race. Who knows how long I may have lingered had she not left? So with Marie and Villa’s help I was able to go on and paddle through the night and eventually finish my first Safari. To this day I don’t remember anything from my four nights on the river. CKR: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers? Stauss: Not everyone who begins paddling gets this consumed by it. I am proud to be one of the few women who are. We all have fulfilling lives outside of racing. We welcome the next generation of female paddlers to take the reins, although you can’t count us “seasoned” racers out for a long time to come. Quitting isn’t really one of our strong points. All the women who had ever finished solo in the 46 year history of the race, (l-r) Ginsie Stauss, Ginger Turner, Debra Lane, Holly Nelson-Orr, Kathy Derrick and Erin Magee. Not pictured, Marie McKay.
Coach’s Corner Chuck McHenry gives you his thoughts on training, technique and tips to help you improve as a paddler
In the last article I touched upon the three of our body’s energy systems that we concentrate on when training. I thought I’d expand on this a bit – hopefully without getting too technical. These three systems are aerobic, anaerobic (or lactic) and the ATP. For those of us who “go long” in racing, the aerobic system is, by far, the most important – until you meet a barge on the second day when you might be grateful for the other two.
people at least four months to bring this system on line. My wife, Di, and I start aerobic training after our last race in the fall. If you are starting from scratch, this is an absolute necessity. You also have to have a good aerobic base to support the high levels of intense training to come in the spring.
As downriver racers, our objective is to spend six months of the year training our aerobic system. This typically means long paddles, at least an hour, Bear in mind that it is generally 4-6 times per week. We also think of believed that all three systems are these as “fun” workouts. This is the genetic; that is, our maximum potential is determined at birth. But, it is the time to go with a group, talk, laugh, tell jokes and percentage of How well we respond to the basically just that maximum pump out the potential that [energy] need is determined by miles. Your we’re concerned the intensity of our training. breathing should with in training. be faster, deeper Also, there is and paced – but never gasping for air no clear cutoff as to when one system or labored. ceases and another begins. We don’t think to ourselves, “Time to put it in ATP gear.” Instead our bodies respond to the need at the time. How well we respond to the need is determined by the intensity of our training. So it is only for discussion’s sake that I talk about these three systems as if they were separate.
Once into spring with a greater emphasis on the other two systems, we still do aerobic paddles at least three times a week strictly for maintenance. If you miss a few weeks, that’s okay, but remember it takes the same number of weeks to get back up to your previous level.
Aerobic system of energy Cross training The aerobic system is by far the most important for most racers. The energy we get from aerobics is governed by the “Kreb’s cycle” and is the body’s use of carbohydrates and fats breaking down for energy. The aerobic is the first system that we train. Starting from scratch, it takes most
Can you train aerobics via other sports? Yes, I believe so; especially swimming, cross country skiing, running and biking (in that order of preference). I believe this because in my mind, what we are training is the lungs. Di does three swims per week and this seems to work well for her. In the gym, I prefer using an aerodyne
using arms only and the legs resting. But, I’ll also often use a cross-country elliptical runner. This is where the ergometers are important. Biking and running is important as I use my legs a lot in paddling, and this trains these same leg muscles that I use in the boat. Of course, every time I try something else I hear my old coach emphasizing, “Be sport specific.” He was basing this on VO2 max testing (where V = volume). This simply is referring to the largest amount of oxygen per unit of time that can be transported to the heart and lungs and used in active muscles. Years ago, treadmills were the standard, but it has been determined that unless you are actually using the muscles that you’ve trained, the results are meaningless. An elite downriver paddler can easily produce VO2 max values comparable to those produced by distance runners with their legs. This then became the rallying cry for sport-specific training. Is this concept 100 percent reliable? I have my doubts because almost every good racer I know recommends cross training. More importantly, cross training lets you do something different, thus avoiding sport-specific burnout.
ATP system of energy When we get in the boat and start paddling as hard as we can, at the utmost
peak of what we can accomplish, we are using the ATP-CP system. This is anaerobic (no oxygen is involved) and alactic (no lactic acid is involved). ATP is the chemical necessary for muscular contraction to occur. While it is stored in muscles, a contraction uses it up. Another molecule, creatine phosphate, immediately comes into play and quickly breaks down to provide more energy, allowing a longer amount of contraction activity. But even then, this system as a whole, depletes in about 15 seconds. It is so independent of oxygen that it is entirely possible to hold your breath during this entire phase. The ATP-CP system takes about 2-3 weeks to train, so it is the last system we worry about in a training schedule (but without, training it is lost just as quickly). All training accomplishes is tricking the muscles to store more ATP. It does NOT train the body to replenish stores faster. Only rest will do this (rest can simply be switching to aerobic paddling). My experience with ATP training was that I could increase the useable duration to 30-40 seconds. I would train this as a finale to my day’s workout, doing 10, 30-second all out bursts, with at least two minutes of rest in between. Do endurance racers need this? Only when making a last-second maneuver around a buoy that has suddenly emerged in the middle of the night, passing someone quickly, getting out and over a huge eddy or boil line or at an overcrowded starting line.
Anaerobic energy system If we increase the intensity of our aerobic workout, we may approach what is called the anaerobic threshold.
This is when our bodies move into an anaerobic state. Which brings us to the last system, lactic or anaerobic system. When we “go anaerobic,” we are doing a very high intensity (but not maximum) exertion. We have used up all our muscle-stored ATP. An actual oxygen debt occurs. Our body is now breaking down glycogen to supply ATP. This produces a waste substance: lactic acid. As lactic acid accumulates in the muscle, it actually acts as a contraction inhibitor. This is the burn weight lifters are trying to achieve. This is also responsible for the next-day stiffness we all feel after exercise. Thankfully, the ability to still function under heavy concentrations of lactic acid, and to dissipate it more quickly during rest, is most definitely trainable. Although I often wonder if it’s a mixture of training this system to be more efficient while training the mind to ignore the pain. I touched upon different training mechanisms for Lactic training last article, but simply, 2x2s (all out for two minutes, then two minutes rest, 6-8 times) still remains the No. 1 best option.
Putting in the hard work Anaerobic system takes about 8-10 weeks of true concentrated workouts to build up. I usually start in mid-January for March races. I call these are the “hard” workouts, which I sometimes have to force myself to do. They must be done 3-4 times a week for improvement. One to two times per week will provide maintenance, but will not provide improvement. To improve further over the summer means staying with the 3-4 times per week. Di and I have a schedule of early season short races that are about 20
minutes long, including downriver and flat water courses. Therefore, I do a lot of anaerobic training. Once into June and July, the schedule calls for longer races and I (thankfully) switch to two times per week. Storage of glycogen (something we break down to fuel anaerobic effort) is a strange beastie. By the book we have about 80 minutes of initial supply. Through training, an elite racer may be able to store a bit more intramuscularly. It takes an hour to replenish muscle glycogen, but it takes 48 hours to replenish liver glycogen. This accounts for the hard day/easy day training cycle many downriver racers use. Bear in mind, however, that if the workout lasts less than an hour, then two-a-days are entirely possible as muscle glycogen has time to be replaced. I call glycogen storage a strange beastie because we can also get glycogen from stored body fat breakdown. This differs so much from racer to racer that I cannot recommend any type of training for this. I seem to be able to switch into this energy source quite easily even to the point of feeling the rush when it kicks in. In last year’s Missouri River 340, I felt it kick in at 12 hours into the race, and I honestly think I could finish the remaining 235 miles without eating, until my body fat runs out. In a day-long race or shorter, I never take any food or supplements whatsoever, and in close races have actually caught people when they took the time to eat. By the same token, when I finish the MR340 I have virtually no body fat left, putting me perhaps in the 5 percent range. I have no idea how this skill came to be, perhaps by the many fasts I did in my younger days. However, I would never recommend fasting as a training regimen. I would only say be aware of this energy source and
see COACH on page 32 11
The legend that is the Texas Wa
photo by David Dobbins
Trademarked as the World’s Toughest Canoe Race™, the Texas Water Safari’s history is the stuff of tenacity, grit and not a few tall tales.
by West Hansen
The year was 1962. Frank Brown worked for the Chamber of Commerce in San Marcos, Texas. Big Willie George owned a hamburger drive-in near the high school. Together they devised a plan to put San Marcos on the map by paddling – relatively unassisted – a V-hull aluminum john boat from the headwaters of the San Marcos River (home of Ralph the swimming pig) to Corpus Christi, Texas, on the third coast. The San Marcos is a small, spring-fed river that pours clean out of the Texas hill country limestone, then is joined by several tributaries as it meanders through the prairie until meeting up with the Guadalupe River near Gonzales, Texas. The Guadalupe starts a hundred or so miles further west, in the hill country near Rocksprings, Texas. After Gonzales, the route heads southwest through the birthplace of the Texas cattle industry until meandering through coastal swamplands before spilling out into Guadalupe Bay.
Throughout the next month and a half, the two talked with numerous reporters, did radio interviews and pressed the flesh with every local politician along the route. With more fanfare and several pounds lighter, Brown and George pulled into Corpus Christi, tragically tossing down the gauntlet for every fool-hearted, romantic, testosterone-poisoned, adventurer to recreate the fun and jocularity.
The first race is on
Brown spent a healthy amount of the chamber’s money and time organizing the first competitive Texas Water Safari. Being a wilderness race of 500 miles didn’t quite have a model from which the organizers could fashion rules. The AuSable River Marathon had gone on a few years, but was a paltry 120 miles in relative civilizaGeorge and Brown planned on taktion. The course in Texas was altoing a right hand turn as soon as they gether different, and organizers didn’t hit salt water and paddle a few more care much for rules, so they kept it days down the coast to Corpus Christi. simple: no They left help from with great At its peak in the late 1960s, events anyone and fanfare, surrounding the Safari included ... a you have led out Miss Texas Water Safari pageant, a to get your of Spring own food Lake by parade, a formal ball. and water a small along the swarm of course. The first team to get to Corpus gals who were employed as mermaids Christi wins. Giddy up! in the Aquarena Springs underwater Yeehaws and goobers (Texas anthrotheater. pological terms) came from all over, The men spent their first night five but primarily from the Lone Star miles downstream. A local farmer’s state. Prizes and prize money stacked wife looked out her back window and up. The local newspaper covered the saw the men camping, then promptly race like it was the second coming. A called Brown’s wife to say the boys young fellow named Roger Zimmerwere doing just fine on their little trip. man entered and wound up with his
photo by Jerry Brown
face gracing the pages of Life, as he wrestled with the large ocean waves. He bowed out of the race, but returned 35 years later to win the novice class. There were no classes in the first year, but 58 teams braved the course, all in aluminum canoes. The only checkpoint was at the town of Austwell, Texas, where all the racers were to meet before launching into the saltwater leg. For days on end there would be no news about the racers “swallowed by the wilderness” until they emerged, quite beaten, at a small town along the way. Most subsisted on fish and small animals they caught. They drank halazone-treated water from the river. Others choked down fresh-water clams, wild onions and the occasional greasy opossum. Ten days after the starting gun, Lynn Maughmer and Jimmy Jones pulled into Corpus Christi as the first winners of the race. The popular men’s lifestyle magazine of the time was Argosy, which not only covered the race well, but donated the traveling trophy, which is still in service today. Embossed with all the winners’ names from the beginning to present, the trophy is a coveted object, though the magazine has long since shut its doors. Maughmer succumbed to cancer several years ago, while Jones is still around as the retired sheriff of Bastrop County, Texas.
photo by David Dobbins
several years during this period. Winners tended to be some pretty rough and tough characters that spent their leisure time plying the waters of the course. Homemade boats became the norm, designed to take hits from the numerous rocks, stumps, log jams and concrete dams that crowd the course. Tandem and three-man rowing teams faced the wrong way all the way down, cranking away on homemade oars and setting records. Classes and categories changed over the years. Tom Goynes won the rowing class one year because they didn’t have a classification for two paddlers sitting forward stroking away with kayak paddles. It was a new concept and the dawn of a new era.
Organizing the chaos After the disorganized melee of the first year, organizers slowly adopted some rules to lower the risk of death and destruction, but not by much. Classes of boats were added after racers from Michigan started to badly outdistance everyone else. The Widing brothers spent a few years teaching Texans how to race. Prizes and festivities escalated to carnival proportions. Along with a large amount of cash, spoils of war included lakefront lots, Alaskan bear hunting trips, Copper Canyon train trips, camper shells, deep sea fishing trips, camping gear and endless other items. Television stations began to give the race air time. At its peak in the late 1960s, events surrounding the Safari included no less than a Miss Texas Water Safari pageant, a parade, a formal ball and celebrity starting gun shooters that included astronauts, politicians and notable football clergymen, the great Darrel Royal. During this time the locals were start-
ing to learn a thing or two; not just about canoe racing, but specifically about canoe racing in Texas, which it turns out is a lot different than what the world perceives as canoe racing.
The 1970s also saw the advent of the final resting place for the finish line: Seadrift, Texas. Previously, the finish line designation fell upon the coastal town that donated the most money. Seadrift lies a few miles across the bay from the mouth of the river and is a natural stopping place. The mileage of the race was slowly becoming more defined, with the most recent GPS-assisted tally being right around 260 miles, but is incrementally up for debate by people with way too much technology and time on their hands.
While highly organized canoe clubs in the north were developing a formula to create a more equitable playing field, the Texas Water Safari was leaning towards an unlimited Race organizers in the late 1960s Prizes went class of boat. and early 1970s exemplified the by the Picture a wayside Texas spirit by not caring how as the race Formula 1 car versus a other canoe races were run. organizablindfolded tion changed swamp buggy hands and and you’ll get a good sense of the participation waxed and waned. environment that began to unfold. In the early 1980s someone looked Race organizers in the late 1960s and up the definition of the word unlimearly 1970s exemplified the Texas ited and things haven’t been the same spirit by not caring how other canoe since. A four-man boat was built out of races were run, and sought their own bomb proof Kevlar, known as “tough path. weave,” and reinforced with alumiBoat classifications even- num tubing. It was a massive Freudian nightmare. Without much immediate tually emerge success, the idea of a four-man boat Rowing rigs dominated the race for floundered while lightweight and
highly experienced tandem and threeman boats dominated the decade. The idea of training and athleticism seemed to take hold a bit in the sixpack-addled minds of locals who came to dominate the top ten slots each year. On occasion, a polished racing team from afar would show up on a shiny, lightning fast Olympic K2 with sculpted bodies and a strict training they believed would assure an embarrassing win over the locals. It was rare for these speed demons to make it beyond the first afternoon without having their river rockets completely destroyed in a log jam, dam or rapid. All the while, the regulars would show up, year after year, on a course they came to know better than their wives and lovers. It was the knowledge of such a difficult course that led them to annual victory. The 1990s began the era of the big boats. Carbon fiber was discovered and the multi-man barges of old were replaced by lightweight, agile craft that had the wisdom of the ages behind their designs. Added to this were the years of experience that racers gained. Big boats were being built left and
photo by David Dobbins
right in whatever space was available. They weren’t cheap and got more expensive as the builders got more adept at vacuum bagging and boat design. Four-man boats dominated. Incrementally, five and six man boats were introduced, then seven-, eight- and a nine-man boat was built and raced. However the law of diminishing return came into play. With the increased popularity of the big boats, racers began to specialize in the different seating positions. Being 45-50 feet long the boats weren’t prone to handling well, so a well-oiled team of paddlers with experience and a finely tuned kinesthetic awareness of the boats position in the river was needed to obtain optimal downriver velocity. Reputations were made for folks who were good drivers (stern), bowmen or horses (mid boat). Social dynamics of a big boat included a fair amount of jocularity and foul-mouthed blame for a particularly heinous screw up. Some of errors landed big boats in two pieces during the Safari. Eventually, in 2007 a new rule was put into effect limiting unlimited (yes, there was gnashing of teeth and pull-
ing of hair) boats to no more than six paddlers. Now, the six-man boat with a well-honed team could maintain a high average speed and make that Freudian sloop corner like a rat in sneakers. Currently, the Safari recognizes several categories of racing craft, while still awarding overall standings regardless of category.
The course itself The first 90 miles are full of hairpin turns, rapids, log jams, old dams, shallow water and banks that can get as tight as 20 feet wide. A good number of racers end the race along these first sections due to boat mishandling, boat destruction or injury. It’s an unforgiving 90 miles to Gonzales, which is exacerbated by a team’s desire to go faster than other teams. After Gonzales, the Guadalupe stretches out a bit, relegating hazards to every few miles instead of every few hundred yards. From here the course is best described as endless hours of paddling separated by moments of sheer terror. Racers who are used to
see SAFARI on page 33
here are many stories of alligatorracer interactions during the Texas Water Safari, however the story you are about to read is widely accepted as the alligator story to end all alligator stories surrounding the Texas Water Safari. Tom Goynes began racing in the Texas Water Safari as a mere teenager in the late 1960s. More than two decades later he teamed up with Red Motley in 1983 to race in the tandem unlimited division. Red had been the recipient of his name by virtue of the uncreative habit of assigning a short nickname based upon the color of one’s hair. Additionally, Red towers above most NBA players resulting in an inability to blend in with any crowd shy of a palm tree grove. By this time in their racing careers, Tom and Red had endured years of opportunities for growth the trials the 260 mile course offers - a course known more for its hindrances to forward progress than its exceptional distance. The young men were top ceded to win. They’d done the time on the water in training and had enough experience to be no longer be content finishing. They were out to win. Throughout the months of training in the late winter and spring, talk had spread among anglers and racers along the remote sections of the course about a particular alligator that loitered around the mouth of the Guadalupe River. This area, beginning about 60 miles from the finish line in Seadrift, Texas, on Matagorda Bay, is surrounded by swamp and is some of the more desolate areas of the course. A severe lack of roads near these waters, paved or otherwise, is prime territory of the likes of gangs of marauding alligators, with tattoos, sideways ball caps, pierced body parts and trousers pulled down to reveal their boxers. The leader of this unruly mob was said to be quite voluminous and hung out at the mouth of the river, facing upstream, which gave him a front row seat at the buffet that drifted downstream into the salty bay waters. Tom and Red had done well, as they paddled into their second night, far in the lead. The finish line was a mere five miles across Guadalupe Bay. All that was required to get their name on the Argosy Trophy was to strap on their spray skirt and keep up their pace across the bay. During this era of the Safari, head lamps were very popular. Racers would forego lights
attached to the bow of their boats in favor of the headlamps that lit up anything they turned their heads to see. An unfortunate consequence of the headlamp is that the light that emanates so close to your eyes tends to distort vision at night, causing something akin to looking at a photograph negative. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the subject and the background. Well, add this phenomenon to the 38 or so hours without sleep and you’ve got a couple of guys with severe sensory and processing issues. Plus, they smelled bad and used occasional foul language and had impure thoughts. Then, of course, you have the prehistoricsized alligator thrown in for spice. Tom and Red lit out from the wooden bridge that is the last sign of what passes for humanity until the seawall in Seadrift. They’d even joked a bit about the giant alligator of recent lore. These two had seen their share of alligators and even took a tour of a local alligator farm where they were given the wise advice to resist the urge to resemble a turtle, the prime source of sustenance for alligators. The two racers were no fools, so they wisely discarded their Fred Flintstone hardhats before coming near the swamps. Given their current standing and the strong potential for another notch in their paddles, their moods were elevated as they neared the mouth of the river. As they had practiced and performed many other times during previous Safaris, they were in the habit of attaching their snap-on spray cover while underway, to save precious minutes against their competition. The cover, once attached, formed a drum-like membrane over the entire canoe, in order to prevent swamping when large waves struck the boat while crossing the open ocean bay. It then, was cinched tight around the waists of the paddlers with strong rope or, most often, bungee cords. While it wasn’t exactly water tight, the spray cover did offer significant protection against the tall waves and gives time for the bailers to pump water out of the boat. As practiced, Red, in the bow, pulled the spray skirt over his head and cinched it tight around his waist before starting to snap it to the gunnels. The boat they paddled was pencil thin for speed and longer than your average canoe, which resulted in extreme tippiness to the
As told to West Hansen by Red Motley a long, long time ago in a bar far, far away.
uninitiated and at least cramped quarters to even the most experienced of racers. The tightest spot in the entire boat, ironically enough, was reserved for the biggest paddler, in the bow. Many of these boats leave only room in the bow for one foot to fit, so a bowman has to go 260 miles with one foot over the other. Another all too common by product is numbness in the nether regions, south of the navel. Since this area is rarely called upon for action during a long race, then blood tends to be pooled and nerves cease
distance between the reflectors indicates how much alligator is behind them. The formula is exponential and extreme, depending upon how many times the story gets told.
as’ alligator story
Well, Red thought this newfound information was pertinent to their situation and ultimate success in their endeavor, so he sought to share it as best he could: “Hey, Tom, go right. It’s the alligator.” Tom responded to the incoherent mumbling as best he could, in his current state. “What? The alligator’s on the right?” So, Tom steered the boat to the left, which put them on a path towards Godzilla. “No.” Red fired back, all the while balancing on one hand and twisting his head around so that his head lamp beam kept on the red reflectors, so that Tom could see where not to go. Red’s legs were numb and shaky. “Right! Right!” “The alligator’s on the right?” Tom blurted back and turned even further to the left to follow Red’s light beam, since that’s obviously why Red was pointing the beam to the left. Now their river rocket was on a collision course with the massive reptile, which was blinded by Red’s beam. What with all the excitement, Tom increased his pace and pushed the boat even faster. Red was now more fully awake than he’d been throughout the entire race. The bow of the boat landed right in between the two red reflectors and the boat came to a dead stop, though Red didn’t. He and his billowing twenty-four foot ball gown flew over the bow of the boat, head over heels, landing on top of the alligator. It’s said that Red sprang back into the boat so fast that he didn’t even get wet.
to function and muscles, when called into action, rarely respond.
on the bow plate, while his other hand fumbled with the snaps.
Thus was the situation in which Red found himself, as he hoisted his Kareem AbdulJabaar-ness up off his seat, with the spray skirt cinched to his waist, and leaned out over the bow to begin attaching the spray skirt, which billowed behind him. Tom was left with the task of keeping the boat in forward motion with frequent braces to counteract the effects Red’s activities was having upon the floating spear they called a boat. Red braced himself with a hand
Just about that time, Red’s headlamp beam scanned across the water in front of the boat and came upon a pair of red reflectors, sitting atop the water about a foot or two apart. As this story is told over the years, I’m sure the distance between them will increase to several yards, because it’s important to know that an alligators eyes at night, resemble, perfectly, the look of red reflectors when hit by a beam of light. It’s even more important to know that the
West Hansen, multiple record holder in the MR340 and veteran of the Texas Water Safari
Running the Safari … on the sidelines by Joe Mann Running the Texas Water Safari is tough. Racers all over the paddling community have heard stories about portages, the blazing Texas heat, 16foot alligators, 300-pound gar that can fly through the air and Tuscan Raiders perched on cliffs taking practice shots at boats. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the exaggerations. But, whether or not you believe the stories, there is no doubt about it – the Safari is tough. It’s not hyperbole when organizers call it the World’s Toughest Canoe RaceTM.
More than just paddlers racing The stories that you don’t hear as often, and the ones that are usually laced with just a bit less sleep-deprived hallucinations, are the ones from the sidelines. The team captains (TCs) have their own stories to tell, and running the Safari from the bank is just as tough as running it on the river. “The TC has got to be at every checkpoint with ice and water regardless of what it takes to get there,” said Cindy Meurer, six-time race finisher and four-time TC. “There is a constant search for ice. When you get down [on the lower part of the river], these little towns, they run out of ice – especially on Sunday. You’re always thinking, ‘Where am I going to get ice next?’” The Safari rules specify that the TC is only allowed to give their team ice and water. Everything else must be carried in the boat. But it’s more than just ice and water that the TC provides. A solo racer needs a TC to discuss plans and strategy. “After being out there by themselves,” Meurer said, “they are so looking forward to seeing you, and they have no one else to rely on. A TC for a solo racer gets much more emotionally involved.” Dozens of boats each year do not finish because of injury or sickness, and
one of the few things a TC can offer other than ice and water is encouragement.
Hard decisions to make “The hardest decision you have to make as a team captain is whether you try to talk your paddler into getting back in the boat, or let them quit while they are still safe,” said Phil Meyer, a white-water convert who decided to serve as a TC in 2008. The pressures are different for TCs than racers, according to Meyer, who relates a story from 2008. “The light went out on the boat and my racer was supposed to be at the last checkpoint at midnight. He didn’t show up until 3 a.m.” According to Meyer, the moonlight on the water had given the paddler a horrible case of motion sickness. All Meyer could do was watch his racer lie on the ground and vomit. “I tried to encourage him to get back in the boat and keep going, but how can you do that when you know it might be endangering him?” Being a TC for a multi-man boat is at the other end of the spectrum. “It is much more competitive, and because they are so fast, you’ve got less downtime between checkpoints. Physically it is demanding,” Meurer said. “You’ve got four jugs of water to clean, four jugs to put ice in, four jugs to fill with water and four jugs to keep the mouthpieces from being contaminated.” She indicates that it’s physically more demanding than supporting a solo racer. “But they have each other, they don’t need that emotional support that you invest in a solo racer. So emotionally, running for a multi-man is actually easier.”
The role and risk of a TC “You can’t make a team win, but you can break them,” Meurer said. If a TC misses a checkpoint with
water, the team could dehydrate. The only time Meurer ever missed having water at a checkpoint, she had to make a tough decision. “I decided to try to catch the team 30 minutes downstream at a place I’ve never tried to access before,” she said. “As luck would have it, I ended up on the high-bank side of the river. I just grabbed the crate of water and slid down the bank on my backside and landed on a log in the water, maybe 60 seconds or so before my team came around the corner. The look on their faces was priceless, but they were really glad to see me and get
Advice for first-time Team Captains Be part of a TC crew first if at all possible. Learn from them, get with someone who has done it before and knows the roads and the checkpoints. Attend the Texas Water Safari seminar on team captains. Have a long conversation with an experienced TC and do what they tell you to do. You’ll take care of the team better if you take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, and get sleep when you can.
the water. My dad had to run back to the truck to get a rope to pull me back up the bank.” The finish of the race is tough for the TC. “It is very anti-climatic, very bittersweet,” Meurer said. “During the race, you are needed so desperately, but when the race is done, then that’s it. Rarely do people ask a team captain, ‘What’s your finish rate?’” Yet, most racers know what it took, and that they know they couldn’t have done it without a good TC. Paddlers and supporters who are thinking about being a TC can come to it with different approaches. Meyer and Meurer both came from different types of paddling. Meyer was a whitewater program manager in Costa Rica, and ran rivers all over the U.S. Meurer was training for the USCA Nationals in 1996, racing mainly short sprints. They both got involved in endurance paddling but took a different approach to being a Safari TC.
In addition to being an ultra-marathon racer, Joe Mann, also known as Dark Horse Paddler, competes in other multi-sport events. He lives and trains in San Antonio, Texas.
Meurer raced the Safari six times before deciding to “give back to something I enjoyed so much.” Meyer decided to TC before racing. “Being a TC is a great way to learn a lot about the race,” he said. “Now that I know it, I’m going to be racing it in 2009.”
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Brief glimpses of racing the Safari
Anecdotes, thoughts and maybe even a confession from 17 years of racing the Texas Water Safari by West Hansen. Racing, or just participating, in the Texas Water Safari is not for the faint of heart, primarily due to the difficulties encountered along the course. The rivers can be tight with sharp turns, heavy currents and unpredictable obstacles that leave few options for self-preservation. Successful racers will have learned the course and brought with them a sense of determination and self reliance that’s not required on other canoe races. There’s just simply no one out there to call on when you’re in danger. These conditions fray nerves and cause even the best of friends to have detailed moments of schadenfreude about one another, hence the Safari’s logo depicting a devil and a dragon in the canoe. Most canoe races take place on wide open clean rivers with all types of support available for the racers from welloiled bank crews. The Safari is akin to stuffing a bunch of unwashed badgers in a paper bag with one sandwich, then forcing them to quickly negotiate a maze full of glass and barbed wire for several days with no sleep. If they tear the bag, they have to fix it themselves and still have to find their way out of the maze. Since 1992, I’ve participated in the Safari every year as an entrant, with the exception of one year, when I was the team captain (bank runner) for a seven man boat. The following are a handful of some memorable moments, though only a fraction of my experiences and far from some of the war stories I’ve heard from others over the years.
Critter time Sitting on two small, irritable alligators in the mud near the mouth of the Guadalupe River around 2 a.m. while being eaten by mosquitoes, in an effort to secure my spray cover. Then, getting knocked out of my boat by large waves and landing on a sting ray, resulting in pain and paralysis during a final two mile walk to the finish line.
Battle scars Bow man ducks quickly and yell’s “duck” with a Belizean accent. I’m in the number two seat of a fast moving six man boat and take just a moment too long to interpret what he
West Hansen in the bow of a 4-man boat during 2006 Texas Water Safari
A good luck charm My racing partner comes down with pneumonia during a freezing thunderstorm at night while lighting and wind dropped trees in our path and fog blinded us by reflecting our bow light into our eyes. At one point he was wrapped in the spray cover, shivering against the cold rain and wind. He happened to see the good luck charm my boss gave me for the boat, attached to a thwart. “This thing doesn’t work,” he grumbled. “Oh, yes it does.” I countered. “Just think how bad things would be without it.” He later recovered and became the alpha dog of the boat as we were run over by a marauding pack of feral hogs during a midnight portage through a swamp at Alligator Lake.
Photo by Pam Smart 20
was saying. The pause was just long enough to miss out on ducking before a stick jabbed a hole in my face just under my left eye. Blood was everywhere and rumors of swashbuckling spread among the banks crews.
Cheese burger in paradise Tandem effort in where the entire rudder assembly came off after two miles, just as we gained the tandem lead. After 1.5 hours of repairs with a barbed wire fence, in dead last, we were on our way. Four miles later, we attracted an 8 inch gash right under the bow seat. An hour of patching later, in dead last again, we took off. Our good speed aside, the low gunnels of the boat wore down our electric pumps with every wave encountered. At Zedler Dam, the brand new, untreated gunnels were as stiff as spaghetti. Doing well, we kept passing the competition. At nightfall we find the batteries are too drained to run the bow lamp, leaving us with a headlamp strapped to the bow. Second day, the stern man gets swept through DeLeon rapids as the zero gunnel boat swamps once again. We barely drag the boat ashore expending vast quantities of energy and calories. Pulling away from Victoria Park, the rudder assembly comes off again, this time for good. At this point, we determined the river had nothing more to teach us, so we bowed out and got some cheeseburgers.
Too bad I’m nearsighted During a practice run with two partners, we rounded a bend in the four man boat to discover a large group of women up on the left bank, just below Fentress, in the wilderness. The women were pretty much nude. Some wore bikini bottoms. Some wore clothing, but most of the fifty or sixty women were bare naked ladies. Following the strict man code, we immediately fell silent and kept our paddle splash to near zero decibel levels, all the while drifting a slowly as possible amongst the bathing gals. “Howdy, ma’am.”, “Nice day.”, “Nice to see you.” We were as polite as ever, as some dove in, some stood up, some covered up and some uncovered. It was the absolute last time I paddled without contact lenses or glasses. I’m strongly considering LASIK surgery.
A couple’s spat Jeff Wueste and I had thrown together a last minute mixed team with Cindy Meurer of Austin, Texas, and Jack Kraus of Torrence, Calif. Jeff and I had far too many miles together by then, however we were just getting to know Jack and Cindy. Record low water year and experience found me
driving the bow, for the most part and Jeff in the driver’s seat in the stern. The slow river found us in a second night on the lower Guadalupe between Victoria and the bay. Without much rain, logs and sand bars accumulated in what was normally a clear, albeit winding, stretch of river. It took a lot of back and forth to navigate the slalom course in the big boat, with several dead ends. The slow current gave rise to occasional fast channels, which shoved us into log jams and sweepers in the dark. Tempers were frazzled and short. At one point we zigged when we should have zagged, leaving us pinned sideways to the current up against some heavy logs. We all balanced the boat precariously in the rushing water as Jeff and I argued about whose fault it was that we ended up in this dangerous situation. Cindy and Jeff were shocked into a polite quietness. After a few moments of childish bickering I yelled, “Well, what the heck do you want to do now!” Though I’m sure it was much more colorful. Simultaneously, my paddle was grabbed by the current and shoved underwater. Jeff yelled back, “I don’t know!” My paddle struck the river bottom about four inches under the surface. I yelled back, “Well then, Mr. Smarty Pants, I’m just going to get out!” At that I stood up in the ankle deep water and we all had a good laugh.
Which way did he go? My first year was accomplished in a small, plastic kayak due to my paddling experience in whitewater. It’s all I knew and luckily, 1992 was a flood year. I didn’t know the course at all and figured all I had to do was follow the flow. When I made it to the swamp area near the coast, the flooded river flow dissipated for miles, creating strong flows through what was normally high ground. I attempted to find the small, dangerous cut that led from the river into Alligator Lake, which would help me avoid the multiple huge log jams that packed the river, which circumnavigated the lake. Word spread of the cut and the confusing directions on how to find it, amidst all the other cuts created by the flood. I found four dead end cuts that shoved me into thickets of branches and stickers and fought my way back to the river each time, dragging my boat in the thick mud. I finally worked my way into the lake, and then paddled across. Upon reaching the other side, I spent an hour searching for the cut leading back out into the river. Exhausted and defeated, I paddled back across the lake, trudged through the muddy flow back into the river and proceeded to drag my Tupperware boat over all the log jams.
Comparison of three famous ultra marathons
So you’ve heard of some of the major races in the U.S. The Texas Water Safari, the Missouri River 340 and the Everglades Challenge are just three examples of the races that challenge the soul as well as the body. But, unless you’ve paddled all three, it’s hard to compare each event. Marek Uliasz, expert paddler and excellent photographer, has paddled all three and shares his insights (and a few photos) into these famous races.
Twelve years ago, after paddling folding kayaks for more than 20 years, I got my first hard shell boat. I built a stitch-and-glue 19.5 Patuxent from CLC, perhaps the fastest kayak available for home building at that time. Racing? No, I just wanted to go by water, quickly to some remote photography destinations. A couple years later I was surfing the internet looking for winter paddling opportunities on Padre Island. I have never gone paddling there. Instead, I discovered the Texas Water Safari. After hours of watching video, three visits to Texas and two boats later I ran my first paddling race: the 2002 Texas Water Safari. I was hooked. Since then, I have completed the Texas Water Safari (TWS) three times, entered three WaterTribe events and finished one Everglades Challenge (WT), completed three Missouri River 340 races (MR340), and several shorter events from 10 to 100 miles. How can I compare the three ultra-marathon 22
paddling races, TWS, WT and MR340? What are the challenges? What are the experiences? The distance to be covered by the racers seem to be quite similar. All three races run non-stop with mandatory checkpoints. You need to be prepared to paddle day and night, and paddling conditions can change drastically with the weather. TWS and MR340 are river races while WT is a coastal race with longer time frame. Everybody has a different story and experience. I am not a competitive athlete. My goal is just to finish these races, competing mostly against myself. My additional challenge is to shoot photographs and video while racing. The perspective of Carter Johnson, who paddled all three races in a surf ski setting a solo record every time, would be quite different. The following pages will outline side-byside comparison addressing history, race course and format, boat choices and team support.
The course of the EC runs about 300 miles, from Fort Desoto to Key Largo. There is an eight-day time limit, with three checkpoints. You’ll be in the coastal tidal waters of Florida, with many choices for race course between checkpoints, and going through several long open water crossings, ship channels, heavy traffic along Intercoastal Waterway and Everglades National Park.
The Safari is 260 miles from San Marcos, Texas, to Seadrift, Texas, with a 100-hour time limit and 10 checkpoints. It’s run on small, spring fed rivers with numerous portages over dams and log jams, strainers, some rapids (San Marcos), then more open river (Guadelupe), and, finally open water of San Antonio Bay. No other river traffic, just racing boat congestions at the start and first miles of the San Marcos River. River access, especially, along the Guadelupe, may be muddy, steep and difficult. The race starts on the second Saturday of June.
The MR340 is 340 miles on the Missouri River from Kansas City to St Charles, Mo. There is an 88-hour time limit, eight checkpoints. The course is on a big navigable open river with strong current, wing dikes, buoys, floating debris at high water, some barge traffic, no portages. The race takes place at full moon in late July or early August.
The EC is a self-upported, expedition format race. No land support or any prearranged help is allowed. However, you can buy supplies. There is a 24 hour reporting rule.
All gear and supplies except water and ice must be carried. Each boat has to have a team captain whose responsibility it is to follow the team by vehicle to keep track of their location and condition and give them water and ice – it is a real team effort. For a single, sleep-deprived team captain, driving from checkpoint to checkpoint, the Safari is a quite challenge. No other help from land support, spectators or other racers is allowed.
MR340 is a river race like the Safari, but is more liberal concerning the land support. Many forms of land support are allowed, or you can paddle selfsupported in the expedition style. It is possible to buy water, sandwiches or even hot food at most of the checkpoints.
History Course Format
“World’s longest non-stop river race,” organized by Scott Mansker and team at RiverMiles is three years old. In this short time the race grew up to 250 boats expected at the start this year.
“World’s Toughest Canoe Race”, the Texas Water Safari has been organized since 1963, following the 30 day expedition by Frank Brown and Bill “Big Willie” George. More than one hundred boats enter this race each year. There are also other river marathon races organized on different segments of the Safari course.
“Adventure in Small Boats”, the Everglades Challenge was created by Steve Isaak (aka “Chief”) to promote expedition style racing in kayaks, canoes and small sailboats. The EC has been run since 2001. Other challenges have also been organized including Lake Michigan, Cross Florida and Ultimate Florida Challenge, as well as shorter racing and training events. Typically, around 30 boats show up at the start of the Everglades Challenge.
Some of the 150 boats positioning themselves at the beginning of the 2008 Missouri River 340
You will be really dirty and wet most of the time during the Safari. You will have a good chance to encounter local wildlife in the form of snakes, spiders, fire ants, mayflies. Proper body maintenance in these conditions is essential and, perhaps, more important than in other races. In MR340 and the EC you can stay away from land, so your exposure to these natural elements will be much lower. These races are much cleaner than TWS. They can be just pure sweat. If you choose to paddle inside the Everglades be prepared for mosquitos and other bugs. Every body of water has some sort of fish (like the alligator gar in the Safari the Asian carp of the MR340) that may jump into your boat resulting in an injury (and in dramatic stories after the race). My nicest experience was to paddle with dolphins across the Florida Bay.
How far away it is? You are lucky if you are living within the area of one of these races, as you will have a real advantage in training, scouting the course and racing. I
consider driving from Colorado to the race as a part of each challenge: EC (Tampa) 35 hours, Safari (San Marcos) 18 hours, MR340 (Kansas City) 10 hours. Obviously, the EC is the most difficult for me, while MR340 feels like my backyard. I also need some time for acclimatization to local conditions. Hot and humid Texas is always the most challenging for me. The only case when I ran into serious troubles during a race was due to a poor execution of that driving and acclimatization phase. A local knowledge and scouting the race course is the most important for the Safari, in my experience. I started my paddling almost 40 years ago on a big river in Poland, so the Missouri with wing dikes and barges feels quite familiar to me. My experience in sea paddling is really limited. And, indeed, the EC always provides me a pretty tough time.
What boat to use? You can take almost any boat for a river race. The Safari favors lighter boats, especially for solos, which are easier to portage and drag over obstacles. A boat for a coastal challenge
needs to be seaworthy and safe. Minimalist designs by Matt Layden like his 13.5â€™ Rob Roy kayak prove that very simple and small boats can satisfy those conditions and even be faster than sea kayaks. The risk of damaging or destroying your boat is the highest during the Safari. Most of the paddling boats in the EC are equipped with some sort of sailing rig. I paddled a Spencer X-treme canoe in both the Safari and the MR340 events and a Sea Wind Canoe in both the EC (with Pacific Action downwind sail) and the MR340. I also completed the MR340 in Thunderbolt-X kayak, but I really prefer the seating comfort of a canoe for long endurance races. The EC is more expensive than the river races due to safety equipment requirements (EPIRB/PLB, VHF radio, cell phone, signaling kit) and navigational aids (maps, GPS)
Race cultures All three races have something important in common which provides a strong motivation to participate. There is a growing community of racers, organizers, supporters and fans around each race â€“ a kind of tribe. You can
Heading out into open water during the Everglades Challenge
expect exchange and sharing of information both online in discussion forums and during actual paddling and training. River tribes of the Safari and MR340 are quite similar, with the Safari having, of course, a much longer tradition. They both include local communities and many paddling enthusiasts along the race course. The EC, where racers are dispersed over a large area and are traveling different routes, are different in this respect. Itâ€™s only at the start where youâ€™ll see all the racers. The demographics of EC, which includes sailors, is also a little bit different. There is some overlap between tribes. It is really interesting to see Texas exporting racers, boats and ideas to Missouri. Many EC participants, especially the Krugerâ€™s boat clan, are starting to participate in the MR340. The MR340 may be the most forgiving race for a beginner. However, it really depends on your racing goals, preparation and planning. Each race provides some unique challenges. What is more dangerous: hitting a barge on the Missouri, a strainer on San Marcos River or a manatee in Florida?
A handful of the starters at the beginning of the Texas Water Safari.
Bartletts conquer channel in Steinlager championship In the most grueling conditions in race history, a married couple win their divisions … again By Stephen Mahelona
Lauren Bartlett, shown here riding her OC1, won the women’s division and her sixth Steinlager Solo World Championship. Ask any outrigger paddler which canoe race they consider the greatest in the world and the single word uttered will likely be “Moloka’i.”
the women had a race of their own. In 1993 the solo canoe (OC1) division was officially added to the Surf Ski World Championship series.
very long and challenging ordeal.
It is a legendary name in the world of paddling, spoken with reverence. It has spawned legends of its own – great canoes, famed clubs, heroic men and women.
The 32-mile OC1 race, known now as the Steinlager Kaiwi Solo World Championship, has been dominated by a small handful of male and female paddlers, assuming their own places in the Moloka’i legend.
On April 18, 2009, more than 90 paddlers set out from Kaluakoi, Moloka’i, for what would prove to be one of the most grueling crossings in race history. Strong headwinds and no surf to ride conspired to make this year’s winning times the slowest in course history.
For the uninitiated, Moloka’i refers to the crossing of Ka’iwi Channel. Twenty-six miles of unpredictable, often treacherous ocean separating the Hawaiian islands of O’ahu and Moloka’i and home waters to the major races for male (Moloka’i Hoe), female (Na Wahine O Ke Kai) and solo paddlers. Elite athletes from around the world come to measure themselves against the very best of their peers and one of the world’s most challenging ocean race courses. Three teams competed in the first Moloka’i race in 1952, and two years later a women’s race was proposed. But it wasn’t until 1979 that Na Wahine O Ke Kai became a reality and
Bartletts rack up more championships The 2009 race proved to be no different as the First Couple of outrigger racing, Kai and Lauren Bartlett, each claimed the crowns in their respective divisions. Between them, the Maui, Hawaii, couple has won 10 solo titles. This is Kai’s fourth solo championship and a record six for Lauren. The Bartletts also swept the titles in 2007. Environmental conditions play a huge role in the crossing and when they are favorable, as they were in 2008, the winners – Lauren Bartlett and Karel Tresnak, Jr. – finished in record times. But when they aren’t, it makes for a
2009 conditions prove to be menacing
But brutal conditions didn’t prevent the paddlers from making it an exciting race. If paddling that far in these conditions doesn’t provide enough drama, then exciting finishes will. In the men’s race, California’s Danny Ching, a perennial top finisher and Mainland favorite, broke from the lead group and held the lead for four hours. But five miles from the finish, Kai Bartlett, who had considered himself out of contention and therefore spent the first part of the race cruising, suddenly came out of nowhere to grab the lead and crossed the finish line just over one minute ahead of Ching. Honolulu’s Jimmy Austin finished third, a
minute-and-a-half behind Ching. “I was actually cruising in the beginning because I figured I was out of it,” Kai Bartlett told the Honolulu Advertiser. “I think that might have helped me in the end. As I started passing guys, I started feeling better and better, and I guess I had more gas in the tank at the end.”
Room to tinker Lauren Bartlett held the lead throughout the women’s race and took the opportunity to experiment with differentsized paddle blades. But late in the race, Alana Frazier of Kauai, Hawaii, made a hard push, quickly closing the gap to two minutes. Bartlett responded and finished about five minutes ahead of Frazier. Honolulu’s Jaimie Kinard took third. Lauren Bartlett commented to the Honolulu Advertiser about the conditions. “I don’t think any amount of training can prepare you for a day like this,” she said. “I think everybody who finished today should be commended.” Several competitors were unable to complete the crossing, among them two-time defending surf ski world champion Lewis Laughlin of Tahiti. Laughlin, competing in his first OC1 championship, hung with the lead group for much of the race, bowing out after four hours. Defending and seven-time solo champion Karel Tresnak, Jr. did not participate in this year’s race.
Kai Bartlett won the 2009 Steinlager Ka’iwi Solo World Championship
Top 5 Finishers - Women Lauren Bartlett
Top 5 Finishers - Men Kai Bartlett
Stephen Mahelona is a outrigger canoe paddler originally from Hawaii, now living in Texas where he races both OC1 and OC6 boats.
American tandem of Johnson and Kelly surprise many, reach podium at legendary British race There were many story lines for the 61st running of the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, or the “DW” as it is known. There was the fact that registrations were up in all divisions of the annual Easter weekend event. There was also the fact that British Olympic champion rower James Cracknell who, with his partner, entered the race to challenge Devizes resident Owen Peak and Dan Seaford of Reading who were making noise to beat the 1979 course record of 15 hours 34 minutes by Brian Greenham and Tim Cornish, who themselves would be in the race for the first time in 30 years. But, perhaps the most surprising story line of this year’s DW that had about 650 paddlers was that a rookie team paddled the unknown waters and 77 portages to take a place on the podium of the non-stop, overnight division (senior doubles).
David Kelly and Carter Johnson, approach the portage at Froxfield. photos by Ollie Harding
Maybe not quite rookies Rookies to this race, that is, for it was Californians Carter Johnson and David Kelly, who paddled a solid race to take third place with a time of 18 hours 7 minutes. It was the team of Peak and Seaford who did finish first in a time of 17:16 followed not far behind by the experienced duo of James King and Richard Hendron in 17:29. Cracknell’s team finished at 20:36. The American pair was told that a first-time team was not likely to make the podium of this event. “We were fortunate to be able to do what most said couldn’t be done at the revered 61-year old DW: podium as ‘rookies’,” said Kelly, the 43-year-old experienced endurance racer from San Rafael, Calif. This was especially the case since Johnson and Kelly were not familiar with the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Thames River or the Thames tidal waters which comprise the race course. But, many indicated the challenge for them was in the 77 portages required to circumvent the locks and dams
2009 DW champions Owen Peake and Dan Seaford posing with their senior doubles medals.
between Devizes, England, and the Westminster Bridge in London where the finish line rests. How did they manage it? Kelly attributes a part of their success to their support crew. “We were buoyed by a superb support team and their families leading us through the night,” Kelly said. “They helped keep the speed high and the suffering low. After 125 miles, 77 portages and 100,000 strokes, we’re all smiles.” The 33-year-old Johnson, a Sausalito, Calif. resident, agrees. “Behind the scenes, we had the best possible host family ever,” he said. “Fresh-cooked meals and two wonderful kids to keep us entertained in the days before the race. It was absolute perfection.”
A special race course Kelly describes the course as “magical” as it meandered through the English countryside “to a stark contrast of London proper.” According to organizers, teams came from as far as Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and, of course, California. Kelly and Johnson’s experience as marathon paddlers did serve them well, but they were not used to paddling an ICF-type boat. “We for sure have a bit to learn about K2 marathon racing, but that is what made this race both so intriguing and different than anything we have done before,” Johnson said. “I’m actually very eager to get back to this one again.” According to Kelly, it was the social connections they established that made the trip and race more than worth it. “Rising above all were the connections with paddlers and non-paddlers alike that provided us with helpful insight and advice. Definitely fits my bill of doing cool things in cool places with cool people.” Race officials report the 2009 DW had more than 350 boats start the race and a record number of more than 290 boats completing the course. Course chairman, Paul Ralph, said, “It was a great event. Atmospherically the conditions were perfect. There were some good solid times out there, slower than you’d hope – but there was almost no flow on the river.”
Race results by division for the 2009 Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race Senior doubles (non-stop): age 18 or older 1 – Peake / Seaford
2 – King / Hendron
3 – Kelly / Johnson
Junior doubles (four-stage): age 15-19 1 – Muller / Reif
2 – Brooks / Staff
3 – Smith / Smith
Senior singles (four-stage): age 18 and older 1 – Burkhard
2 – McIntyre
3 – Thrower
Endeavor class (four-stage): all ages, nonracing 1 – Shaw / Krasovitskiy
2 – Morris / Medland
3 – Silcock / Garrard
2010 DW is scheduled for April 2-5.
Veteran/Junior (four-stage): mixed ages/ gender
Race Web site: http://www.dwrace.org.uk/index.php
1 – Worth / Byrne
2 – Southey / Greenaway
3 – McKeand / Crompton
hen most people think of San Francisco, they don’t necessarily think of paddle sports. That’s too bad because, according to many surf ski and outrigger racers, the Bay and surrounding waters offer some of the best racing in all of California and home of the Wave Chaser Paddle Series. “This race series rocks,” said Chris O’Kieffe, racer and proprietor of Ocean Ohana. “The downwind runs in Nor Cal are possibly the best California has to offer … and nothing I have seen in So Cal comes close.” The waters are only part of the reason for the popularity of the Wave Chaser Paddle Series, first established in 2002. Since then, the Wave Chaser Paddle Series has become northern California’s premiere winter racing series for human-powered watercraft including outriggers, surf skis, kayaks and paddleboards. The series attracts some of the sport’s top paddlers, including: Patrick and DeAnne Hemmens, Carter Johnson, Rami Zur, Danny Ching, Zsolt Szadovszki and Steve Woods.
by Craig Tanner photos: Jasmine Shahbandi
San Francisco is the place to be for winter racing blues
Wave Chaser Paddle Series offers multiple racing choices and great settings
With seven race courses set at unique locations throughout the Bay area, racers experience the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline from a unique perspective while plying the challenging and fast waters.
According to Steve Woods of South Africa and Phatwater record holder, the organizers understand racing and what makes a good race. “The courses were well researched and often had the paddler’s interests at heart,” Woods said. “Some great downwind sections with surprisingly good swell generated from the current, which I learned is a massive factor in San Fran. Best of all, the locals are all friendly and accommodating which makes the trip all worth it.”
The seven California courses, including one relay, are set in Redwood City, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Crissy Field in San Francisco and Fort Baker in Sausalito. All races include novice, short and long courses to accommodate all levels of paddling. According to Helen Workman, one of the organizing officials from Berkeley, Calif., one goal of the series is to promote the awareness of the sport to the greater paddling community. “The series was started by some friends from the Hui Wa’a Outrigger Canoe Club,” Workman said. “Mike Martinez, Mike Ng and Dave Jensen came up with the idea of organiz-
ing winter races because they saw a real drop in paddling activity during the winter months.”
Fast and challenging conditions What sets the Wave Chaser Paddle Series apart from many mainland races are the challenging conditions the long courses offer. San Francisco Bay and the connecting Pacific Ocean are very dynamic and challenging locations for racers looking to test their skills. Winds of more than 20 knots and currents in excess of five knots are not uncommon. These factors combine to make conditions as challenging as found anywhere. Just ask anyone who has paddled to the Point Bonita Buoy in 20-knot winds and a four-knot flood tide. Christopher Cornejo, a racer from Pismo Beach, Calif., echoes this sentiment. “I like the Wave Chaser series because the staff makes a race not only just another race but a true accomplishment. If you’ve survived one you’ll know what I mean.” The courses are oftentimes changed to take advantage of the wind and currents on race day, and are created from the twisted mind of Wave Chaser cofounder Dave Jensen. “Dave is one of those guys who enjoy paddling in bouncy, chaotic waters while many others are gripping their paddles so hard they can’t feel their fingers,” Workman said. After winning the Fort Baker Race this year, Patrick Hemmens shared his thoughts on surf ski racing in the area. “I love coming up to the Wave Chaser races, Hemmens said. “Our sport is called SURF skiing let it stay that way. Congratulations to the whole Wave Chaser crew for not standing down. It’s worth the 16 hour drive to do a twohour rough-water paddle.” In challenging conditions safety becomes a number one concern for race organizers. According to many of the racers, Martinez and the Wave Chaser safety crew do an outstanding job keeping paddlers safe and ready for rescues when needed.
More than challenges await Racing is as much social event as on-water racing and the Wave Chaser Paddle Series organizers understand this. Carter Johnson of Sausalito, Calif., said, “It is the people and the race locations that keep me coming back.” Zsolt Szadovszki, two-time Olympic silver medalist on the Hungarian national sprint team, indicated this was important for him, too. “While we were very competitive during the race, we were all friends on shore and it felt like family.” “Wave chaser never disappoints from a race standpoint,” said DeAnne Hemmens, who with her husband Patrick own Ocean Paddlesports. “But for me personally, I love
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the food. Those gals make the best chili and veg soup for those cold days. Wave Chaser sets the standard for a great event.” Passion for organizing a top-flight event is evident. “They are always trying to improve things, and the energy and passion they put into the races was amazing,” Szadovszki said. It is incredible that the race results get up sometimes the same day of the race. Helen just kills it every time! That much passion about an organization … now that’s something special.”
ski Championships (www.ussurfski.com), attracting top paddlers within the United States and internationally. The 2009 U.S. Surfski Championships Long Course has been re-designed to make it a downwind race, making it even more attractive to many surf ski racers. The U.S. championships are scheduled Aug. 22 – 23 at Fort Baker in Sausalito, Calif. For more information about the Wave Chaser Paddle Series, visit www.wavechaser.com.
More than winter racing The other half of the Wave Chaser race season is the Summer Downwind series that typically starts in June. These are some of the more highly anticipated races of the year. The Bay Area offers consistent afternoon summer winds of 20 knots or better. The races are all point to point and designed to take advantage of these winds for great surfing races. According to race officials, speeds up to 15 mph can be obtained while surfing on a good day in the Bay. Wave Chaser is also the main organizer of the U.S. Surf-
Craig Tanner is an avid surf ski racer in northern California where he regularly finishes near the front of the field. He also races in Hawaii.
COACH perhaps you can dial it in. The breakdown of glucose produces 38 ATPs. Breaking down stored fat produces 441 ATPs. The controversy is whether you can break down stored body fat at anaerobic intensity (7080% VO2 max) or whether it only happens at light aerobic intensity (50% VO2 max). Perhaps there’s some genetics at play here, also.
A repeat workout There is one never-miss workout I do each week. I paddle a timed run on a set course, wherein I am literally racing against my prior week’s time. In early spring, when we’re doing a lot of downriver and sprint races, I paddle a two mile set course. In summer, with longer races eminent, I paddle 5-10 miles. Monday is a rest day, so I usually do my time trial on a Sunday to allow liver glycogen replenishment as my time trials are totally anaerobic.
A time trial also functions as not only a good shock to get you past training plateaus, but gives you a good measure of your progress. Again, do top endurance paddlers need this? They may. A case in point was during an epic sprint battle during the last 35 miles of the 2006 MR340 between Marek Uliasz and Bryan Hopkins. That was extreme anaerobic effort (and a situation I never hope to find myself in). Another example is meeting a barge coming up river. You will need anaerobic speed to either duck behind a wing dike, or to successfully time the wave trains for wave-hopping. Lastly, I would emphasize a schedule of training wherein each workout you need to do throughout the year is recorded. Stick to it! It will start fairly simple in the fall with 3-4 aerobic workouts per week. If
you have a schedule with short races, it can get quite complex with aerobic workouts in the morning before work and anaerobic workouts in the afternoon or evening after work. The schedule we used to use for downriver was always supplied to us by our coach, and was specific for that particular year with the goal being to reach our maximum potential during the week of the U.S. Nationals. Keep this article handy as it will give you an early start for next year’s racing season. Next Coach’s Corner topic: Why some racers become ill in ultra-marathon races SYOTR!
SAFARI massive rivers will still consider the Guadalupe a bit tight, though it is considerably wider than the San Marcos. Signs of civilization will become rare as hours drag out between desolate checkpoints. There will be no sign of another city until Victoria, 60 miles from the finish line. Depending on the water level, there can be several Class III rapids, which have wrecked boats as teams tried to negotiate the waters at night. Once past Victoria, racers are on the home stretch to the finish line, though it won’t feel like it. Between Victoria and the DuPont Chemical Plant checkpoint, the river twists and turns so sharply that you end up paddling back north numerous times. After being awake a couple of day, it’s very disorienting. Many racers have trouble getting through this area, known as “hallucination alley,” since their internal gyroscope and biological clock are all screwed up. The DuPont plant will come into range multiple times, creating a sense of hope that the checkpoint is near, only to have the river turn away from the plant until the checkpoint magically appears. The swamps are thick in this area, so hiking out is never an option. From the DuPont plant to the last checkpoint in Tivoli, Texas, the Guadalupe frequently harbors huge log jams full of plants, logs, detritus, garbage and worst of all, rotting animals. Racers have to slog through all of this around Alligator Lake, unless they can find one of the treacherous cuts into the lake and make their way across to cut off 15 minutes of river time. The cuts are only a few feet wide with rushing water through thick vines and downed trees. Not recommended for the newcomer. The saltwater barrier dam, just north of Tivoli is where the last checkpoint is located. From here on in the river gets tighter, but less dangerous. A mile or two upriver from the mouth of the Guadalupe, rolling waves traveling up river will indicate a rough bay crossing. Alligators and mosquitoes are always present. It’s a toss-up as to which is scarier. As you paddle out of the fresh water into the bay, many folks get a feeling of agoraphobia with no tight banks to define the world. Many racers have been lost in the bay, though it’s only five miles to the finish. Heading due east will be the safest, but widest route across the bay. Once upon the eastern shore, take a right and go south until you run out of land, then head east again, crossing the turbulent barge canal (watch out for barges) and follow the shore to the town of Seadrift. The fastest way across is the most direct, which is to go to the right after leaving the mouth of the river and follow the shore to the point on the west side of the mouth of the bay, then go directly across the mouth, which is the shortest point-to-point, but the roughest water. The flagpole at the seawall in Seadrift is the Holy Grail. Only a smidgeon of people on the planet have completed the course and dragged their beaten bodies upon the seawall to kiss that flagpole. Relish it. Then, start thinking about next year.
Different strokes for different folks a primer in boat specifications
by Wally Werderich What’s in a racing canoe, one might ask. All canoes basically do the same thing. How different can the designs of different racing canoes possibly be? The answer to this inquiry can simply be answered in two words: a lot. The reason why there is such intricacy and diversity in boat design, however, can not be so simply answered. If variety is the spice of life, variety of canoe design would make the craft akin to jalapeno peppers. When looking into why there is such diversity in the design of racing canoes, two factors become apparent. One is the rules that govern the races in which the canoes are used and the other is the craftsmen who design and manufacture the boats – this doesn’t even take into consideration the ICFtype sprint canoes. This objective of this particular article will cover the first factor – the rules, or lack of rules, by which many of the canoe races in the U.S. abide. The next issue of Canoe & Kayak Racing will include an article about some of the craftsmen who design and manufacture racing canoes.
Rules, rules, rules In 1968, the United States Canoe Association (USCA) was formed as a sanctioning body for the promotion of various sit and switch canoe racing events throughout the nation. One of the purposes of the USCA was to foster competition in canoeing and to set up a system of rules to govern racing events. As the rules set out by the USCA
evolved, one of the purposes of the regulations developed was to equalize the canoe being a factor that would cause one athlete to win out over another during the race. The emphasis of USCA competition would be placed on the paddler without giving too much advantage to a competitor using a boat of superior design. As a result, a standard racing canoe design was formulated which set out specifications to which a canoe must adhere in order to qualify for USCA events. Over the years, the designs of the USCA style racing canoes were tweaked, adjusted and perfected by racers and canoe designers looking to get that extra edge in competition. So as not to stay stagnant concerning the advancing ideas of canoe design, the USCA rule makers adjusted the rules to incorporate the ideas for faster, new racing designs. The designs evolved and classes were developed that categorized tandem racing canoes into three separate hull specifications competing in two different classes. The current USCA racing hull specifications for tandem canoes include the Standard Class Racer; the Competition Cruiser, sometimes called a 4x32 canoe; and the Pro Boat, sometimes a 3x27 canoe. The current USCA rules for solo canoes set out one standard set of dimensions for all racing hulls. Further description of the basic dimensions of the USCA racing canoe designs can be found in the sidebar. Currently, there are two classes in the USCA for tandem canoes. One is the C2 class in which all of the racing hull
designs can compete. The other is the standard C2 class in which only Standard Class Racers and Competition Cruisers can compete. For solo racing canoes, there is only one class, C1.
Rules! We don’t need no stinkin’ rules Both prior to and after the creation of the USCA, there were paddlers that did not wish to be bound by any rules that limited the hull design of canoes they raced. For these folks, the design of the canoe was as much a part of the competition as the athlete who paddled the boat. Not being bound by any rules, this segment of paddlers became very creative in ways to enable the canoe to be faster and perform at its optimal level in sometimes very particular conditions. Known as unlimited boats, it is not uncommon to see these boats reach lengths of 45 feet long and paddled by as many as six people. Further, both single bladed canoe paddles and double bladed kayak paddles are used to propel unlimited racing canoes. Often, the promoters of a race that includes unlimited canoes will only break down the classes within that race by gender and the number of people in the craft. Some of the most prolific races that unlimited canoes are used in are extreme long distance ultra-marathon races, such as the Texas Water Safari (260 miles), the Missouri River 340 (340 miles) and the Yukon River Quest (460 miles). A common sentiment among ultramarathon canoe racers is that the dis-
tance of an ultra-marathon race often increases the importance of the design of the canoe due to the paddler being pushed to their physical and mental limits in order to just finish the race. Regardless of whether a paddler prefers USCA or unlimited style canoe racing, athletes will find few racers who do not become fixated with trying to determine the best racing canoe design. Accordingly, whether there are rules or no rules, there will be one thing that stays constant, and that is variety. Mmmmm, now that’s a hot pepper!
USCA Pro Boat (We-no-nah V1)
USCA Standard Class Racer (We-no-nah SCR2)
The next installment will feature interviews with different boat designers and builders of both specification and unlimited canoes.
USCA C1 (We-no-nah J203) USCA Competition Cruiser (4x32 Spec) Maximum length of 18’6” Minimum width being 14 3/8% of the length of the canoe measured at the 4-inch waterline. For a 18’6” canoe the minimum width is 32 inches - thus the term 4x32. This measurement is made within 12 inches fore and aft of the center of the canoe. Minimum height of the bow is 15 ½ inches and the minimum height of the rest of the canoe is 11 ½ inches. Some hull designs in this class include the V1A, the JD Cruise and the Mixer.
USCA Standard Class Racer Maximum length of 18’6” Minimum width being 15% of the length of the canoe measured at the 4-inch waterline. Minimum height at the bow and stern is 16 1/2 inches; minimum depth amidship is 12 inches.
USCA Pro Boat (3x27 Spec) Maximum length of 18’6” Minimum width being 33 inches on the top at the gunwale line; 27 inches at the 3-inch waterline or 3 inch of draft, thus 3x27. Minimum heights measured from the
0-inch waterline are 15 inches at the bow, 10 inches from the center and 10 inches from the stern. Some hull designs in this class include the V1, the Hassle, the JD Pro, the Gillies, and the Bullet.
USCA C1 The specifications of the USCA C1 are the same as the USCA Competition Cruiser. Some hull designs include the Diller I, II and III; the SSS and the J Series (i.e., J180 through J203). USCA rules allow for canoes to be made out of any material. USCA rules do not allow for rudders and only allow for non-mechanical bailers
Unlimited Canoe (pursuant to Texas Water Safari rules) There is no specification made to limitation of the canoe other than the canoe must be propelled by human muscle and by no more than six people. Tandem hull designs include the Missile, the Raptor, the Patriot and the Spirit. Solo hull designs include the Extreme, the Raptor, the DSX, the Rainmaker and the Wave.
Everglades Challenge results WaterTribe’s annual Everglades Challenge was recently held with 24 of the 34 entries finishing the course. The 2009 overall winners were a men’s tandem small sail craft team of Jamie Livingston and Steve Lohmayer who completed the 303-mile course in 48 hours, 39 minutes. First place for a kayak or canoe went to three different teams with a time of 83 hours, 55 minutes. The Everglades Challenge is an expedition-style adventure race for kayaks, canoes and small sailboats. The race begins at Fort de Soto County Park near St. Petersburg, Fla., and runs generally southward, through the Everglades National Park, around the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, with three intermediate checkpoints before ending at Key Largo. The time limit to complete the course is eight days, but winners will usually complete the course in fewer than four. This race serves as a qualifier for the Ultimate Florida Challenge, a 1,200-mile race with a 40-mile portage. Race results for the 2009 Everglades Challenge Class 1 – expedition kayak/canoe Rod Price/Ardie Olson
Joseph Mullen/Ed Engel
Paul & Steven Lausell
James Connell/Will Schaet
Class 2 – racing kayak/canoe NightNavigator/nitesong
For more information, visit the WaterTribe Web site at www.watertribe.com.
Paddler still gaining incremental improvement with ergometer training When compared to the previous year’s five-mile time trials, Ron Ladzinski has shown good improvement in 2009. Although this is not a scientific study, we felt it would be an interesting exercise to see what improvements Ladzinski would make from one year to the next with the addition of ergometer training being the only difference. As the spring as moved on, his on-water training has increased, but still using the ergometer within the week.
His most recent five miler produced a time of 43:45 for a GPS-measured 6.86 mph average over the distance (includes 180-degree turns). “I believe improvements have occurred during my off season training,” he said. “Though my recent improvements may not be in as large of jumps as during preseason, the fact that I am still seeing improvements is evidence that my different training approach with the ergometer and focusing on technique and cadence is working.”
Ladzinski said his most significant improvement has been in a quicker cadence. “I have intentionally worked on cadence on the erg and it has translated to my on-water sessions well,” Ladzinski said. “I have noticed that I feel stronger over the past few months and more efficient during my training,” he said. “I feel this is evident in my time trials because my times posted thus far this year have been significantly better than my times of that same period last year.” From the initial measurement period, Ladzinski has gained nearly a full mile per hour. He admits that it cannot be all be attributed to the ergometer, but that is the primary difference in his training from 2008 to 2009. In April of ‘08, Ladzinski posted a 48:30 five-mile trial time. This year in the same month, he’s dropped that time by about five minutes.
V10 Sport V10 Sport V10 Sport V10 Sport V10 Sport V10 Sport
Epic mid 33 45:11
5-mile trial MPH
2008 time-trial results following basic fitness training during the winter compared to 2009 timetrial results with the addition of a paddling ergometer to Ladzinski’s training routine throughout the winter and spring. 2009 results will be posted from time trials in the spring an summer.
McGregor outdistances competition, defeats flat cond this year by McGregor, winning his first Moloka’i in a time of 3 hours, 54 minutes, 39 seconds (unofficial at time of press). Finishing twice in each of the last two years to Tahitian, Lewis Laughlin, McGregor obviously did not want a second for the third time. The rest of the men’s podium was occupied by Australian, Tim Jacobs in secHank McGregor of South ond with a time Africa is the 2009 men’s of 3:57:20 and Moloka’i champion Laughlin in third at 4:04:21. The ladies division was essentially a three-woman race rossing the channel between with Katie Pocock reaching the marina Moloka’i and O’ahu islands in first in a time of 4:28:32 followed by Hawaii is dramatic enough with the Naomi Flood at 4:36:38 and Lauren potential for dramatic waves, chaotic currents and whistling winds. Imagine Bartlett 4:46:34. Pocock was third a year ago when Bartlett took the gold. doing it on a water craft that is only
17 inches wide. But, to seemingly take the channel by the throat, throttle it into submission, is a feat of significant note – enter South African Hank McGregor, the titan who defeated Moloka’i.
That’s what it seemed like when surf ski paddlers from around the world converged on Hawaii May 17 to battle for what is considered the world championship of open-ocean racing. Officially, it’s the Epic Moloka’i World Championships, but it was conquered
Conditions unfavorable for speed, but … In its 33rd year, this 32-mile race has been dominated by Australians and South Africans. It began at Kepuhi Beach on Moloka’i and took racers out into the volatile Ka’iwi Channel, often said to be one of the roughest ocean channels in the world, and finished in Koko Marina on O’ahu. However, the weather had a mind of its own with the winds not having much affect giving racers some of the flattest seas in race
history. “I think it was the toughest race I’ve ever been in,” McGregor said afterward. McGregor has emerged as one of the most dominant paddlers in the world winning more than his share of races in South Africa. Part of the Epic stable of paddlers, McGregor is known more for his silky-smooth stroke than the boat he paddles. It was this stroke efficiency that paid off allowing him to press aggressively right from the start and never relinquish the race even in the challenging conditions. Right from the start, Australian Clint Robinson and McGregor took an aggressive lead and a group of about a dozen paddlers rode with them, making a move from the rest of the field. In an online race coverage forum hosted by surfski.info, Oscar Chalupsky advised that the racers needed to conserve energy early as conditions are flat, hot and muggy. Chalupsky and fellow South African, Dawid Mocke, estimated the race will take between 4:45 and 5 hours in those conditions. Chalupsky was not racing this year due to injury as well as Mocke who’s wife, Nikki, is expecting to give birth any moment. An all around paddler, McGregor evidently was prepared for whatever he faced in the channel or from the competition. He earned his chops in recent years winning nearly every title and discipline available to him in South Africa including sprints, river, marathon and surf ski.
McGregor defies conventional wisdom The buzz in the escort boats was that
, ditions, to take Moloka’i the two leaders had pulled away too quickly, which ended up being true for Robinson, but not so for McGregor. At all stages of the race, McGregor was showing strong and pulling hard. Chalupsky indicated that hydration strategy was going to be key in the flat conditions with a growing headwind. The two leaders took turns pulling and put a bit of distance between them and the chase pack of 10 paddlers. This held to form until about 2½ hours into the race, when Robinson succumbed to severe cramps and fell off the pace while McGregor cranked away. Then, at three hours into the race, the three first positions never changed for the next hour to the finish with McGregor winning and Tim Jacobs and Laughlin overtaking Robinson, who did finish, despite his debilitated condition.
Racers’ perspective After hitting the beach, Jacobs said, “I’m buggered mate, it was absolutely horrible. Hank was just ahead, he paddled very well, just couldn’t catch [him]. I’m happy with second … be back, give it a crack next year.” His sentiments were echoed by Laughlin. “It was hard, tougher than last year [with] little bumps. This time, no bumps, no time to recover. Hank and Tim were just too fast. I’m happy for Hank, congratulation to him. I’m happy to be third! From the pain of the race, I’m stoked to be in the top five. It’s getting harder to compete at our age.”
fast, was just incredible,” said Rob Mousley of surfski.info. “For a while it seemed that Hank and Clint were working together – and then Hank started testing him. The guys on the commentary were saying that it was too soon for Hank to do that and that he’d blow. Well, clearly he even had enough energy to ride the waves to the finish – outstanding!” Mousley said that Jacobs also paddled a fantastic race. “He paddled the entire trip on his own and I’m guessing that cost him in the end – he was having to do all the work himself while Hank and Clint traded places pulling,” Mousley said.
“For Hank to paddle that distance, that
With about 30 minutes to go, Chalupsky and other experienced observes were astonished at the pace that McGregor and the others had been able to maintain through the adverse conditions. Mocke described the last 20 minutes as simply “survival.” At the 3:42:00 mark, as he approached O’ahu, McGregor was heard to be screaming from his ski as he caught some waves that start to stack up near the finish and doubled his lead over Jacobs. The South African appeared to be playing on the waves, continuing to extend his lead over Jacobs. Giving congratulations to McGregor, Mocke indicated he’s surprised that the early breakaway at the beginning of the race worked.
Katie Pocock of New Zealand is the 2009 women’s Moloka’i champion
Summer moon and cliffs along the Missouri River photo by Karin Thomas during the 2008 Missouri River 340
Published on May 19, 2009
Canoe & Kayak Racing magazine is the newest digital publication to support flatwater paddle racing from sprints to ultra marathons.