Sunday, February 7, 2016

SUP Race Report - CGT Winter Race #4

Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #4
Date it happened: 7 February 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.12 km
Conditions: Cool, breezy weather (15C), stronger than usual river current due to recent heavy rains
Participants: The usual CGT race team crew, plus a few first timers. Justin DiGiorgio was too sick to race but still showed up to cheer and take pictures, and brought his cute dog. Mark Athanacio was also sick but raced anyway. Mike Hammond brought more of his family than ever, including his dad and his son in homemade kayaks, his daughter riding on the front of his sup, and his wife hanging out.
Results: In the 14' SUP class I was first in 33:38, followed by Mark Athanacio, Mark Hourigan, Murray Hunkin, and Phil Trudgeon. Meg Bosi was the fastest 12'6 woman and was tied with the fastest 12'6 man; a new guy whose name I don't know yet. Another new guy looked pretty sharp on a 14'x26 BlkBox Uno sup. Preliminary results are in the picture below. Full results will be posted on the CGT TIME TRIALS page.

Gear: This was the first time I did a CGT race on my new 14'x23.75" Riviera, "Fletchy." I was looking forward to comparing my speed on Fletchy to Mark Athanacio's speed on his newly-arrived 14'x23" Hovie Comet GT, but since Athanacio was pretty sick and hadn't paddled in a week it wasn't a proper test. Both Athanacio and I are using 6" Fins Unlimited Keel fins, which have low drag, good weed-shedding abilities, and a good turning abilities.

Play by play: I started in the first group of four with Matt Kearney, Murray Hunkin, and Mark Hourigan. (Mark Athanacio and I had agreed to start in different groups so we could each see how we did without drafting the other.) Matt, Murray and I all pushed hard at the start and were parallel for a while, but I had a good position to take the lead at the first bend.

Matt picked up my draft but Murray missed his chance to link up this time. I paddled really hard and tried to stay in the fast part of the river. Matt stayed on me for a while but I made it hard for him by maintaining near sprint pace for a long time, and he eventually dropped off. After the downriver turn around I saw that the first starting group was fairly spread out, and Mark Athanacio was catching up, picking them off one by one. Going upriver sucked because of all the current; my speed downriver was about 11 kph, and upriver it was 7.9 kph. My upriver strategy was a mix of trying to stay on the edges out of the strongest current, and trying to cut corners to minimize the distance traveled. I think Athanacio gained on me approaching the midway point of the race, but I got further ahead again in the second half, twisting and turning up to the Bat Bridge and then zipping downriver to the finish. Coming downriver I had to slow down occasionally to do awkward maneuvers through tree branches and around other racers, but at least I didn't fall off.

Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race. If you go into strava you can see interesting ups and downs in speed going with vs. against the current.

Other race intrigues: Beth Schadd was too fast for any other women to draft this time, so she was pretty far ahead of Damien Lin and Saralane Harrer. Saralane was within two seconds of beating Damien's time, so they should be a good pair to watch next round. Phil Trudgeon at 55 years old was impressive for beating young Matt Kearney, especially given that Phil is on a very wide, early-model raceboard. I predict that on a proper board, Phil will soon be in the same speed league as his fast peers Mark Hourigan and Murray Hunkin. Matt's speed may also improve, since he's now cross training by riding waves on a new 404 "Floater" sup-surfboard that looks sweet. I think my windsurfing and wave sup background gave me a really good headstart in racing, and I'd definitely recommend some wave-watersports for flatwater sup racers looking to get an edge. Jodi Ziajka and Donna Catron were a good matchup, each with cool new 12'6 raceboards. Donna and Jodi will both gain some speed if they switch to swept-back fins that don't accumulate huge birdnests of weeds and pine needles during racing.

Pictures: Huge picture album posted by Justin DiGiorgio.

Great showing despite the cold weather, wind and heavy current. do what ever your want with the pictures. please tag people that i am missing. hope i got a few good pictures of everyone!

Posted by Justin DiGiorgio on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Very Windy Session with 3.5 Sail

My smallest windsurfing sail is 3.5 meters squared. Mostly it collects mildew at the bottom of the pile in my van, since to use it requires exceptionally strong wind. But Saturday we had exceptionally strong NW wind in SW Florida, and I got to use the sail for an unprecedented two hours of uninterrupted major wind power. It was totally bananas. I wore my helmet with a GoPro camera mount and took the film for this video. The song is by The Prodigy.

Very Windy Day 1-23-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

I extracted this still from the video because I thought it was cool how it showed my shadow during a jump. Makes me want to get out there again and try to go higher next time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wavesup with Angulo Surfa 10'4 and Exocet WindSUP 10'2

The other day I paddled in the waves with my windsurf buddy Alex. He has a cool new board- an Exocet WindSUP 10'2, which is pretty similar in dimensions and design intent to my modified Angulo Surfa 10'4. I.e., it's intended to be a maneuverable mid-sized SUP board that also functions as a full-planing windsurf board. I had never tried Alex's board before, but he let me try it that day. I liked it. It was a little more nimble and quick to accelerate than my reconfigured Angulo, but also a little less stable and less forgiving of sloppy takeoffs and such, perhaps due to the narrower nose and tail. I was relieved that my own jerry-rigged board compared pretty favorably to the latest and greatest WindSUP... at least in paddle mode. I'd still like to try Alex's board with a sail sometime.

Surf SUP 1-15-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

SUP Race Report- CGT Winter Race #3

I always take too long writing these SUP race reports when I should be prepping for the work week, so I'm going to try to do this one FAST.

Race: CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards Winter Race #3
Date it happened: 24 January 2016
Location: Riverside Park on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs, FL
Distance: 5.11 km
Conditions: Cool weather (~14C), moderate river current (~1km)
Participants: Good crew of the usual CGT race team folks, plus a couple other local racers and a newbie or two
Results: I was the fastest 14' SUP, John Wheeler was the fastest 12'6 SUP, Meg Bosi was the fastest woman, Katrina Best was the fastest new racer, and Mark Athanacio was by far the fastest over 50 years old. Justin DiGiorgio got a personal best time and beat Matt Kearney (who is fast) by almost a minute. Phil Trudgeon who has a canoe-racing background came within two seconds of beating Devin Turetzkin who has a jetski racing background. Damien Lin and Donna Catron used drafting advantageously to narrow the gap on speedy snowbird Beth Schadd. Full results are on the CGT TIME TRIALS page

Gear: Since my new board "Fletchy" is getting a facelift, I used one of the shop's demo boards- a 14' x 25.5" 404 v3 carbon with a Stavron fin. It's a nice setup that has stability to spare but is still fast. The 404 v3 boards are really good for dealing with "race situations" like drafting, passing, and handling the rough water at the start. Their noses are low and pointy enough that you can make use of the board's whole waterline to get good glide at cruising speed, yet they have enough width and bluntness that they can also skim across the water in sprint. CGT has a few lightly used ones for good prices. There's the one I rode today, plus a ultra light custom 14x25.75 version that Justin DiGiorgio just put on consignment because he switched to a 14x24 Hovie. Mark Athanacio rode Justin's consignment 404 today because the Hovie Comets he has on order haven't arrived yet.

Play by play: I started in the first group of four with Murray Hunkin, Mark Athanacio, and Mark Hourigan. All of us are close enough in speed that we can form a good draft train, although I don't think Hourigan follows closely enough to actually benefit from the draft- he just keeps pace because he's fast. Murray is on a 14x27 Riviera and Hourigan is on a 14x25 Riviera. Today Murray sprinted hard at the start and I got behind him, followed by Athanacio and Hourigan. Murray averaged 10.4 kph for the first 800 m. That's pretty darn fast, even considering that the current was helping. At about 800 m Murray let me pass so he could take a turn drafting. I pulled for about 800 m, too, then Athanacio took the lead by turning tighter than me at the downriver turn around. I was happy to ride his draft while he did the hard work of pulling against the current. On the way up to the midpoint we slowed down to let Hourigan pull for a while. My memory is fuzzy regarding what draft train negotiations happened after that, but I know that I got in front again before we reached the midpoint, and then Athanacio and I on our 404s broke away from Murray and Hourigan. I was feeling pretty fresh from not having pulled much up to that point, so I just kept a steady pace and did my usual latter-portion-of-race strategy of not giving Athanacio any chances to pass, and finishing like 1 second ahead of him.

Here's my speedcoach track and data from the race. If you go into strava you can see interesting ups and downs in speed and heartrate corresponding with going with vs. against the current and drafting vs. pulling.

Pictures: Pending

PS: After the race Matt Kearney, Devin Turetzkin, and I took surf sups to Wiggins Pass and rode some pretty nice waves. Then the breeze came up and I put a sail on my Exocet WindSUP 11'8. Nice. :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Neptunalia Challenge paddle race report

Sunday I went to the Neptunalia Challenge paddlecraft race in Indian Harbour Beach, near Cape Canaveral, Florida. Actually I drove over Saturday night and split a room at the Days Inn Melbourne with Mike Hammond, a SW Florida SUP racer who has the cool day job of managing and promoting Lee County's "Calusa Blueway" network of paddle trails. We were apprehensive about the race because the weather forecast was horrible for paddling: Very strong SW - NW winds with thunderstorms and rain. Fortunately the worst of the storms passed through in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and it was clearing (but still windy) when race check-in began. The weather might have dissuaded a few people, but there was still a large crowd of eager racers at Oars and Paddles Park. There were three different race distances (3, 6, and 10 miles) and all sorts of different vessel and age divisions, so there was something appealing for everyone. The race committee did a good job of picking courses that would be challenging but not simply grueling. For example, the originally-planned 10 mile course would have been half in the open water of the Banana River Lagoon and half in a canal system parallel to the lagoon. Because of the wind they put more of the course in the canal, but they kept enough in the Lagoon to make it interesting.

Something this race did that I had never seen done before was have two separate versions of the 10-mile race; one with prize money that cost $75 to enter (the "Kraken"), and one without prize money that cost $40 to enter (the "Dragon"). Only the top three in the Kraken would get prize money. Since both races were to be scored equally in the 2016 "Fastest in Florida" points series, and since the registration list for the Kraken looked stacked with at least three better-than-me paddlers, I decided to save my money and sign up for the Dragon instead. I would prefer that they not do this money/no-money thing again because it was awkward deciding which version of the race to register for. Based on times alone I was wise to do the Dragon, because I was first in that and would have been 5th in the Kraken. But I was kind of sad that I didn't get to start at the same time as the Kraken racers because I would have liked to try to get in the draft trains with the fastest guys. (They started the Dragon about a minute after the Kraken.) Also, if I had entered the men's 12'6 class in the Kraken I would have been guaranteed $150 third place because only two guys entered that.

One thing that was cool about this race was that they actually brought podium blocks for us to stand on. I think this is the first time in my life I've gotten to stand on top of a podium block. 2nd and 3rd are Stephen Chase and Steven Bernstein, respectively. John Sekas would actually be second place based on his faster time than the Stevens, but he was first place in the 50+ division instead.
 photo neptunaliadragonwinners_zps5mqg3u5f.jpg

Full race results are posted on Webscorer, but I've posted just the times from the 10 mile (15.57 km on my GPS) races here:

Name Category Time Race Version
Rob Mirlenbrink Kayak 1:16:52.8 Dragon
Nathan Humberston Kayak 1:18:02.3 Dragon
Flavio Costa Kayak 1:19:10.5 Dragon
Randy Taylor Kayak 1:19:25.7 Dragon
Robert Silvernail Outrigger Canoe 2-person 1:23:12.3 Dragon
Kim Watson Outrigger Canoe 2-person 1:23:51.6 Dragon
Jason Malick Kayak 1:29:59.0 Dragon
William Schaet Kayak 1:31:07.7 Dragon
David Rush Outrigger Canoe 1:33:24.4 Dragon
Max Schafer Kayak 1:34:08.8 Dragon
Karen Mirlenbrink Kayak 1:35:59.8 Dragon
Kieran Grant SUP 14 Male 1:37:39.8 $Kraken
Connor Bonham SUP 14 Male 1:37:40.7 $Kraken
Mark Nye Kayak 1:38:59.3 Dragon
Josh Smart SUP 14 Male 1:39:09.4 $Kraken
Samuel English SUP 14 Male 1:39:11.3 $Kraken
James Douglass SUP 14 Male 1:40:00.7 Dragon
Reid Hyle SUP 14 Male 1:41:17.7 $Kraken
John Sekas SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:42:46.9 Dragon
Stephen Chase SUP 14 Male 1:43:05.6 Dragon
Joey Huempfner SUP 12'6 Male 1:43:17.9 $Kraken
Steven Bernstein SUP 14 Male 1:43:20.3 Dragon
Rand Perkins SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:44:57.5 Dragon
Billy Miller SUP 14 Male 1:44:59.6 $Kraken
Travis Kindt SUP 14 Male 1:45:00.9 Dragon
David Dean SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:46:30.7 Dragon
Scott Roche Outrigger Canoe 1:46:42.1 Dragon
Kimberly Barnes SUP 12'6 Female 1:46:53.6 $Kraken
Seychelle Hattingh SUP 12'6 Female 1:46:55.2 $Kraken
Cristian Prado SUP 14 Male 1:47:36.7 $Kraken
Murray Hunkin SUP 14 Male 1:48:11.0 $Kraken
Keith Cook SUP 14 Male 50+ 1:50:07.7 Dragon
Victoria Burgess SUP 12'6 Female 1:51:23.2 $Kraken
Aleksandra Malinska SUP 12'6 Female 1:51:24.8 $Kraken
Matt Henderson SUP 14 Male 1:51:54.6 Dragon
Adam Pollock SUP Unlimited 1:52:08.5 Dragon
Kim Hillhouse SUP 14 Female 1:52:51.3 Dragon
Chip Bock SUP 14 Male 1:53:19.9 $Kraken
MAB MAB SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 1:53:28.0 Dragon
Dean Weihnacht Outrigger Canoe 1:53:46.4 Dragon
Mark Miller SUP 12'6 Male 1:54:05.7 $Kraken
Dave Merkli SUP Unlimited 1:54:24.7 Dragon
Cat Uden SUP 12'6 Female 1:54:40.9 Dragon
Karl Eugster SUP 12'6 Male 50+ 1:54:45.8 Dragon
Carolina Seth-Smith SUP 12'6 Female 1:56:42.7 $Kraken
Meg Bosi SUP 12'6 Female 2:00:13.8 Dragon
Rachel Ferguson SUP 12'6 Female 2:01:07.3 Dragon
Chris Burrough SUP 14 Male 50+ 2:01:13.3 Dragon
Lisa Hertz Prone Female 2:02:17.0 Dragon
Ron Jones SUP 14 Male 2:02:17.3 Dragon
NESSA BRUNTON SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 2:06:40.5 Dragon
Robin Moran SUP 12'6 Female 50+ 2:07:53.0 Dragon
Lew Pavlovich SUP 14 Male 50+ 2:26:11.2 Dragon

Here is my GPS data from the race:

And here's the story from my perspective:

The start was at the Banana River Drive bridge, which goes over the narrow southern end of the Banana River Lagoon. The first leg went north along the west side of the lagoon. I put in a moderate sprint at the start and figured I'd try to draft anyone who got out ahead of me. But it turned out I was at the front of the Dragon group, so I just picked a distance from shore that I thought had the fastest water and tried to paddle well. The wind and current were both somewhat at our backs, so there was no need to hug the shoreline too closely on that leg.

At about 3.5 km we came to the buoy that marked where we had to cut East across the lagoon to enter the canal system. The lagoon had widened enough there that the chop was significant, and it was tricky paddling straight east when the wind and waves wanted to push us northeast. Like a lot of people I let myself get a little too far north of the canal entrance and had to paddle against the wind a bit to make it in. I also fell in there, but got back on quickly enough that it didn't cost me any positions. My close competitor Stephen Chase (who schooled me in the Race Around Palm Island) fell several times in the same area. That was a bummer for him but it took some pressure off of me.

Entering the canals I caught up with some guys from the Kraken group that had started earlier. First was teenager Joey Huempfner- but we couldn't draft each other because he was on 12'6. Next I tracked down a guy with good looking long hair and a beard like Jesus. He was on a 14' JP board, and since he was hard to catch I figured it would help both of us to work together for a while. Jesus said his name was Billy. We traded pulling / drafting as we worked our way north in the canal, and we made it our goal to catch a guy in a bright yellow shirt who was ahead of us. That was hard, because the yellow-shirt guy was champion kayaker turned SUP'er Reid Hyle. (I actually went to graduate school with Reid at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Now he works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I remember Reid as the guy with the huge arms who I would see zipping across Chesapeake Bay on his kayak at about the same speed I was going on my windsurf.)

Billy and I still hadn't quite caught Reid when we got to the turn-around buoy at the north end of the canal. I tried to whip a fast turn and really put the pedal to metal to catch Reid, because we were going against the wind at that point and I didn't want to have to do the whole upwind journey without a drafting boost. I did catch Reid, but dropped Billy in the process. Reid had a good strategy of staying very close to the upwind side of the canal, as out of the wind as possible. We traded pulling/drafting equitably, which made the long canal section pass relatively painlessly.

The hardest part of the whole course was exiting the canal and paddling straight upwind into the Lagoon for a short, rough final section south to the Banana River Drive Bridge then East into a side canal to Oars and Paddles Park. Just after making it upwind into the Lagoon I fell off on the lee side of my board, and the 20+ knot wind actually flipped the board through the air over my head and dropped it downwind of me. I got back on and paddled mincingly towards the Banana River Drive bridge where folks were standing taking pictures. The wind had shifted from SW to NW so it was kind of pushing us south to the bridge, but also kind of pushing us into the docks along the shore. I ducked my head under the bridge and tried to keep pace with Reid into the canal. I knew I didn't need to beat him to beat his time, but I didn't want to finish way far behind him either, so I dutifully sprinted. Reid had an interesting way of sprinting with one foot far in front of the other. His board is a custom model with a raceboard nose but quite a bit of rocker and a surf-style tail. I bet he'd be even faster on a pure raceboard.

Besides how my race went, there were as many interesting race tales as there were racers. I can't possibly tell all those tales here, but a couple of cool things I saw were:

1. Strong performances by the winners of the Kraken race. On the men's side Kieran Grant, Connor Bonham, Josh Smart, and Samuel English all started great and were in a draft train up to the first buoy. But at the buoy Kieran and Connor used their surfing skills to take a tight turn, dropping Josh and Samuel who turned wider. The two pairs were then separated for the whole rest of the race; Kieran and Connor fighting for first and Josh and Samuel fighting for third. All four of those guys are real impressive athletes. It's interesting that even though most of the race was in sheltered waters, how racers handled the short bits in rough water was the decisive factor for many. Skill, strategy, and experience keeping the pedal to the floor amidst chaotic conditions was key. On the womens' side there was a similar pattern where Kim Barnes, Seychelle Hattingh, Victoria Burgess, and Alexsandra Malinska were together for the first part but then split into two pairs. Kim and Seychelle's times were particularly impressive, and there are some great pictures of them duking it out to the finish.

Kieran Grant vs. Connor Bonham.

Kim Barnes vs. Seychelle Hattingh.

2. Gutsy battles in the middle of the pack and for division-specific victories. 50+ John Sekas showed his speed and experience by finishing close behind me and edging out the incredible Rand Perkins, whose great speed in the flat parts didn't quite make up for his trouble in the turns and rougher sections. Stephen Chase gutted it out after his falls and held off Steven Bernstein by a few seconds for a strong finish. My teammate Meg Bosi got second in her division in the Dragon. My other teammate Murray Hunkin had a quick time, too, even though he's quite new to standup. Murray's sweetheart Saralane Harrer, who has even less experience on a sup, showed that she's a quick learner by winning her division in the 3 mile race. Also, there was a guy who did one of the shorter races with a large dog sitting on the nose of his board, and another guy who did it with his young son sitting on the nose.

I need to get this post up soon and don't want to spend tons of time fiddling with pictures, so I'm just going to embed some pictures from other folks' facebook albums. Dr. Jose Antonio and his spouse took a bunch of good ones. Dr. Antonio is the guy who is doing the study of the effects of a high protein diet on sup racers.

SUPs, OCs, and surfskis battled the winds and some chop. Felt like a CAT 1 hurricane. Check out the sequence photos of...

Posted by Jose Antonio on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Quick Wavesailing Video

Earlier this week was the first good NW wind in a long while. I got out for a windsurfing session at Wiggins Pass State Park. I really like how my 6.4 KA sail works with my 106 liter Exocet Cross and 26 cm MUFin wave fin. It's just the right mix of power and looseness for onshore wind wavesailing in moderate strength winds. I just wish I got to use that setup more often! The song clip in the video is by the Arctic Monkeys.

Wiggins 1-10-16 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rand Perkins- 63 years old and can still kick your butt by a lot

Most people who SUP know about legendary Canadian Olympic Canoeist Larry Cain, who at 53 is now a professional-level SUP racer (and great blogger). But every SUP paddler should also know about an another amazing character- North Carolinian Rand Perkins, who is a stunningly-fast elite SUP racer at 63. There is a great article on Mr. Perkins, and how he got so good, on

63 year old Rand Perkins at 2015 Florida State Paddleboard Championships.
 photo 10524195_10152893784643822_7327020173026728313_o_zpsyv7ctxis.jpg

I've been in two races with Rand Perkins and both times he kicked my butt by a lot. The first time was in January 2015 at the CGT kayaks winter race #1 on the Imperial River. He averaged 9.38 kph compared with my 8.8 kph. (Over the past year of training and tweaking my equipment I've gotten a little closer to Rand Perkins' speed in the Imperial River, but I'm not there yet.) Not long after Rand crashed our CGT race he kicked my butt again at the 2015 Florida State Paddleboard Championships. There he averaged compared 9.0 kph compared with my 8.73 kph. He would have been even further ahead but he started late and had a slow turn at the halfway point. It's unusual to be passed by a SUP racer once you have a good lead on them, but if the guy behind you is Rand Perkins, there's no safe distance you can be ahead. He will get you. And when you try to catch his wake as he passes, good luck keeping up.