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!