Sunday, September 12, 2010

So this is racing...

Wow. That was an eye opener for me. My impressions:

1. Racing is fun! Yes, I was absolutely spent by the time I reached the finish buoys and man, there were times when I just wanted to quit. Still, the thing was a blast, I'm definitely doing another one. In fact, I just filled out the registration form for the Hennessey's race two weeks from now.

2. I don't quite understand how the top finishers can be that fast. It's almost magical how quickly the strong paddlers distanced themselves from the field. I mean, weren't we all paddling in the same water, against the same wind, in the same direction? Huge respect to those guys and gals who have got this thing down.

Photo: Ten minutes before the start of the race I see this crawling on my board: So is that a bad sign? 

3. Even more respect to the prone racers. Mind blowing- that's all I can say about it really. There was a point in the race when I saw a neon green blur coming up beside me- I looked over, it was a woman absolutely cranking along on a stock class prone board. That gal was jamming- turning those arms over non-stop. I was able to keep up until we rounded the upwind buoy at the half way point- when she turned it down wind she was gone for good. Gnarly.

4. Racing is technical- you've got to know your board, the conditions, your level of conditioning and the route. A weakness in any part of that list will just add minutes to your final time and rob you of places in the final results. I was kind of shaky in all four areas- which is awesome because it leaves me tons of room for improvement.

Photo: My Imperial Beach teammates: Kiwi (who took 3rd in Stock SUP) and Kevin... stoked to have shared the day with them. 

5. It's fun to beat somebody. Even if you're way back in the pack- it's still fun to reel somebody in and crush them (next time, John, next time). While I didn't exactly crush anybody out there, I did keep right on the tails of a small pack of dudes half my age and if I hadn't blown it right at the finish things might have been just a little bit more satisfying.

6. Music and hydration are key- thankfully I had both.

7. The race community is a good one- really nice people, super positive and stoked to be there; especially if you're the one who remembered to bring the cooler full of cold beers.

And, man, those beers never tasted so good!


Anonymous said...

John, I just started racing myself and I want to try the distance race at BOP. What type of hydration did you use?

John Ashley said...

Hey Junky-

I've got photos and info on that stuff coming up in a couple of days... stay tuned!

Sam said...

Great seeing you out there! Are you doing the 6 mile stock race for hennessey?

Andy Gere said...

Spot on report John, very similar to my experiences. I too am amazed at how fast the top paddlers seem to pull away from the pack at the start of the race. I've got some work to do on my motor, no question about it.

You're right about the best part being the little races within the race. In the 6.5 miler I just did on Sunday, I was in a virtual dogfight with a young prone paddler on a stock board. I caught him on the downwind leg, he passed me on the next upwind, but I finally caught him in the last 1.4 mile when some backwash off the cliffs gave him some stuff, great competition and great sportsmanship along the way. I've got to train up before the next event...

Joe Agliozzo said...

Hey John - I have done a little "fun" racing on a longish surf oriented standup (11 ft), and I thought it was kind of like jogging - dull and I would rather just surf..

Is it a different experience on a "real" race board?

I can see doing downwinders being fun, but not flat water racing so much.. what's the scoop from a dedicate surf guy like you?

John Ashley said...

Hey Joe-

The race board definitely glides better and goes through the water nicely- it does move a lot differently than a surf board so there is a learning curve there.

I liked being on the race board- I don't know if it really transforms the experience- it is still kind of brutal. Surfing is way more fun- but racing has an appeal of it's own.

I don't know- I kind of like the whole thing for the chance to compete and be part of an event. I think it will also help me improve my fitness for surfing- my primary interest in paddling.

John Ashley said...

Hey Andy-

Thanks! My motor is pretty darn clunky but I just picked up a much longer paddle and I think things are looking up.

Good luck with your race and let me know how it goes!

John Ashley said...

Hi Sam-

I'm chickening out on running with the big dogs at the Hennessey race- so I'm only doing the "fun" 3 mile race. It's only my second legit race so I think I'll ease into it a little bit.

I heard you guys have a little paddle group on Mission Bay- what's up with that?

Are you going to paddle?