Crossing the finish line and feeling very satisfied with my performance
I’ve found I’d rather summarize events in video than typing words these days, but this event this past Saturday, August 8, 2020, deserves a few written words.
There was a lot of chatter leading up to the race and my messages, chats and emails exploded a couple days before the race. People were asking me about water levels, what type of boats were suitable, etc., etc.
Alas, good fortune smiled upon us and delivered the remains of a tropical storm early in the week and then some thunderstorms later in the week which ended in just enough time to give the James River the opportunity to drop to safe levels on Friday and deliver perfect race conditions for Saturday.
Huge kudos to the Crosswind Paddle Co. for keeping a close eye on conditions and deciding to go through with the race in the face of a challenging pandemic and challenging river conditions.
Last year we had only 6 people in this particular race (the 22-mile kayak/canoe portion of it,) and this year saw 16 paddlers. An amazing jump in just 1 year.
I’ve crunched my numbers from the race and was very happy to average 7.55mph for the race after the first mile (I turned on my GPS when I launched, NOT when the race started and I stopped to retrieve my GPS when I knocked it overboard in the first mile thus I tossed that first-mile data,) which delivered me a second place finish overall, 3 minutes behind Sandrine Deglin who is on the U.S. National Wildwater Team, so I considered this a huge win running with a true athlete, not just a weekend warrior like the rest of us.
And I have to say, paddling mostly right behind her for many of the first 11 miles before she created distance between us in mile 12, I was in awe watching her paddle. It was like watching a “how to” wing stroke video. Perfect technique executed flawlessly. Poetry on water.
We had a very good showing from the Charlottesville area sending 5 paddlers from our local group.
I produced two videos of the event (below,) a short overview & recap video and then a long-form video of my entire race, sped up to create a 48-minute video to show you the view from my cockpit.
Since we were practicing social distancing I chose to not get close enough to interview anyone who I don’t regularly train with, so I feature Paddling Buddy Shelli in the short video. She did the 5-mile version of this race last year and then mentioned she wanted a faster boat so she could progress into more serious racing so we subsequently got her into an Epic V7 this Spring and convinced her to jump up to the 22-mile race this year. She did an awesome job and finished strong and will probably kick my butt next year after she gets comfortable with and masters a wing paddle.
Look for her on the racing circuit for years to come.
I also send out a huge “Thank you” to Paddling Buddy Dave’s wife, Kathy, for driving the shuttle vehicle and providing video from land for us. There is something about hearing Kathy cheering for us from the shoreline that makes us smile every time and reminds us how we are thankful for our significant others who might not fully understand yet fully support our paddling lifestyle.
Please come out and support this race next year. I’d love to see you on the water and hopefully next year will be more conducive to chatting and visiting with more people and swapping race stories rather than staying at least 6 feet away from each other.
Short overview and summary
The long-form video of my experience
The story of the boat I paddled and how I kept it a secret from my training partner