Sunset Race 4/12/12

The Sunset Race Series is a monthly paddle race that is held on the second Thursday of each month. Its a chance to compete against local paddlers in a informal setting. We always go out afterwards for food and beer to discuss the event. This paddle was going to be something special. To kick off the summer paddling season, we decided to make this one a bit longer. It was to be from Route 66 to the access between 141 and Greentree park, approximately 11.5 miles downstream. We planned extra time for this float to ensure that we could all finish.

—————————Stolen from Dan Prater’s recap of the race ———————-

the line-up

-Wenonah Minnesota 3 paddled in tandem. 3 person kevlar canoe, 20′ long, only about 50 pounds. Light and super fast
-Epic 18x sea kayak. Built on the same hull as the epic v8 surfski, this is the fastest touring kayak there is. only yak faster is sprint k1
-Think Evolution surfski. 20′ long, needle thin, and only 30 lbs.
-Hobie adventure with peddle drive and turbo fins. heavy (60 ish lbs) stable fishing yak, but an efficient hull and an amazing peddle drive that is more powerful than a paddle could ever be. dont be fooled by the look, these boats can cruise. A couple of years ago this boat was top 10 in a 340 mile race against unlimited style racing boats for the first 200 miles before injury caused a dnf.
-OC2. very narrow canoe with outrigger used in ocean racing. Custom built for distance racing on flatwater this boat is 27 feet!! and looks like a surfski with a small outrigger.
-whitewater sprint k1. 15 ish feet, fiberglass, a couple years old but a fast boat. Winner of many sunset races.
Wilderness systems cape horn. 15′ plastic, 55 lbs. my boat thats posted all over here lol

We meet about 530. When we get to the boat ramp where we finish to shuttle, the fire dept has a few trucks there and they are launching their rescue boat to head upstream to look for a missng person. Thats not a good thing. as we shuttled upstream we could see the helicopters in the distance hovering over the river searching. Knowing that we would be paddling directly through that part of the river was a little weird. After the short shuttle and getting everyone launched we started the race 630 ish.

to my amazement, im out front, and about 500 yds downstream the river goes under the highway and there is maybe 12′ of usable space in the channel because the water was low, the river narrows and speeds up around the bridge pilings. Now myself, the epic 18 and the tandem canoe are 3 wide through here, and the other boats are in hot pursuit a couple feet back. The canoe ramps a part of the submerged logjam on the bridge piling, boats collide, everyone laughs and says sorry, all the while no one loses a stroke. No mercy!

The canoe, surfski and epic start pulling away immediately and are walking away. about 1.5 miles into it the k1 passes me. Cool, he is usually out front from start to finish, and this guy always beats me. He is my arch nemesis, an accomplished racer in a faster lighter boat. I feel good i held him off this long. Then the hobie and oc2 go by about 2.5 miles. its all about hull speed, and im in the shortest slowest boat.

the oc2 doesnt gain much ground, and can keep them within a couple hundred yards. paddle paddle paddle. 4 miles in i catch the oc2, we are dead even for a couple miles. They have that outrigger that sticks several feet off the side of the boat, i dont. I take a line that goes through some partially submerged trees. They ahve to take the safe line a little wider, and i edge them out. I dont dare take a drink or turn around to look because I can hear them talking and their paddle splash is close. I start walking away from them. pretty soon i cant hear them. I look and they are several hundred yards back.

its past sunset and getting dark fast. we are coming up to the park where the guy was missing. they were just taking the rescue boat out and leaving at dark when we passed. he didnt make it. I havent seen any paddlers for a couple miles, they are too far ahead i cant see them around the bends. Just after dark, in the reflections off the water i see another racer. a kayaker… sweet. I reel him in and see its my arch nemesis in the k1. he has been ahead and out of sight for a long time. I say ‘no way i reeled you in, is your paddle broken?’ and he says nope, running out of steam. Im still paddle paddle paddle as hard as i have been the whole time and pretty soon i cant hear him behind me. about 9-10 miles in now, totally dark.

i get to the boat ramp 15 min after the first place canoe, second place epic. 8 minutes behind 3rd place hobie, 3 minutes in front of the k1 and the oc2 comes in 8 minutes after him. The surfski had a rudder issue and had to pull out a mile from the end. 13 miles total, and i paddled this stretch faster than I ever have at that water level. Not only that, but i flat out smoked a 27′ ultralight custom racing canoe, and I beat my arch nemesis. Not only did i beat him for the first time ever, i reeled him in and beat him with a slower boat because i was better conditioned. yeah buddy.

—————————Stolen from Dan Prater’s recap of the race ———————-

Dan’s Video