Monthly Archives: August 2011
Yesterday was the second annual Bellingham Paddle Grand Prix race held on Bellingham bay. Open to all human power crafts this year, The race nearly tripled in number on racers to 86 races with a strong showing of both surf ski, outrigger, and stand-up paddlers. Most importantly, the race served as a fundraiser for local kayaker & outdoor enthusiast Marshall Seaman to help with treatment expenses associated with his diagnosis of Guillain Barre. The best news of the event is the Marshall continues to make a strong recovery and the event was a huge success!
The race turned out to have stronger morning winds than expected and in typical Bellingham ‘character building’ fashion the race course has us going upwind on the surfable sections and downwind in the flats. The good old drifting start allowed the for some starting line jockeying for position and the race format of four loops around a mile and a half race course allowed an interesting race format with the ability to see all the races during the entire event.
The two Fenn Swordfish on the water were the talk after the race. FAST in the upwind, stable in the chop, and easy to link runs in the downwind,, the Swordfish was the perfect boat for these conditions. Duncan was beaming about how it handled in the mixed conditions. I jumped in the trusted Fenn Elite and was able to depend on the top end speed to push me ahead of the wolf pack. Kudo’s to the doubles team Sullivan/Goolsby for taking top honors in doubles in their Fenn Elite Double and Clement/Ecker for taking top honors in the borrowed Elite double! It’s high time that this town get a few more Elite doubles for more fast tandem action.
Top 10 Results Long Course
1. Dawid Mocke South Africa Fenn Elite 1:54:35
2. Matt Bouman South Africa Epic V10 1:58:38
3. Sean Rice South Africa Think Uno Max 1:59:47
4. Barry Lewin South Africa Custom Kayak Bullet 2:02:34
5. Dan Sanchez Spain Fenn Elite 2:04:10
6. Robert Barry Australia Fenn Elite 2:05:46
7. Greg Barton Seattle, WA Epic V12 2:07:05
8. Tommy Karls Sweden Fenn 2:07:50
9. Dorian Wolter Delware, OH Fenn Elite 2:08:57
10. Phillipe Boccara Newport Beach, CA Fenn Elite 2:09:12
August 13-14, 2011: Wavechaser hosted the 9th annual US Surfski Championships in San Francisco Bay this past weekend, attracting both top national and international paddles due to the great venue and cash purse. Early week forecasts were looking for potentially small conditions, then race morning the forecast was rumored for the wind and waves to pick up. Winds were in the mid 20s around Angel Island once the race got underway but big water racing conditions never materialized. The long race course challenged racers with 17 miles of mixed conditions with the first half offering flat sprint racing to the buoy and the second half including classic San Francisco Bay slop and moderate surfing conditions to Berkeley marina. Short course racers left 45 minutes after the long course start, meaning racers would hit Angel Island and the finish at roughly the same time. Locals were rating the conditions as a 3-4 out of 10 on the wind-o-meter, though everyone was challenged by the current and rebound in the second half.
The long course race started at roughly 1:45 pm, with a thick marine layer and visibility to Angel Island. Racers got off to a fast start and sprinted towards the Golden Gate Bridge in a dense pack. At 2:30, with the marine layer breaking and visibility clearing, the short course race had their start. Roughly 15 minutes later, long course lead paddler Dawid Mocke came into sight from behind the bridge. Close on his tail were Matt Bouman and Sean Rice, making for a close race to the Fenn Hotspot. Mocke lengthened his lead from the two and reached the hotspot with time to spare. Minutes later the rest of the pack was close behind, with the top 20 paddlers rounding the corner and racing to the Fenn Hotspot to start their downwinder to Angel Island’s Point Blunt. Dawid pulled ahead in the downwind section and finished over 4 minutes ahead of the second place finisher Matt Bouman. After this point, racers from both course began crossing the finish line in rapid succession.
Long Course Highlights:
Dawid Mocke returned to reclaim his title from last year and dominated throughout the course in his Fenn Elite, claiming both the Fenn Hotspot as well as a first place finish. His skill in a surfski was apparent as always, as he seamlessly linked waves on the downwinder while other were struggling to catch them. Greg Barton rebounded from a second place finish at the Wildside relay last month in the Columbia Gorge and reclaimed is title as the fastest US surfski paddler with a 7th place finish. Gabe “The Hammer” Newton was as strong as ever and finished 13th despite just getting back stateside 3 days earlier from his 5th place finish in the Avon Descent in Australia. Patrick Hemmens, who had been giving a lesson in downwinders all week in the new Fenn Elite SL, finished strong with a 14th place. Don Kielsing, right on Pat’s tail, finished 15th in the AllWave CX, a surfski out of Italy, edging out local favorite Carter Johnson who finished 16th.
The 22 year old slalom powerhouse, Austin Kieffer ripped up the course in a 22 lb Fenn Mako XT, claiming 19th place despite just starting surfski paddling two weeks earlier. Austin glided past his former slalom coach (that’s me) at Angel Island with a quick “What Up”. After a mild bonk at Angel island, I attempted to chase down Austin but was unable to close the gap at the finish, coming in 2 places behind the young gun in 21st place. The new Fenn Swordfish provided a stable and fast platform and allowed me to hang with a top pack in the first half of the race and provided ample stability and speed in the second half.
Gareth Tudor-Jones was Canada’s top finish with a 22nd place finish and, as always, it was a pleasure to be on the water with such a powerhouse. South African powerhouse Michelle Eray slid into the top 30 and was top female with a strong 29th place finish. Bellingham’s own Lycra model Morris Arthur rebounded from a slower than normal first half with a strong finish, 31st place. Kenny Howell showed some local knowledge in the course, placing 33rd and commented over a beer at the finish how he wished the waves were more like in the Columbia Gorge. DeAnne Hemmens, 2010 US Champs Womens Winner, was nothing but smiles as she comfortably glided across the finish line in her new Fenn Swordfish, taking 2nd place for the women’s long course. Deep Cove Outdoor’s Bob Putnam has a great race with a 39th place finish
Also of note: Bellingham’s own legendary Mike Gregory had solid race and was able to recover from a remount practice opportunity off Angel Island (no, he did not win the raffle this time) First time US Champs racer and Bellingham local, Roger Lam had the biggest smile at the finish but we weren’t sure if it was from the race itself or the fact that he was back on land.
Short Course Highlights
The new US Champs Short Course offered the most enticing course of the weekend with an immediate left turn out of Fort Baker with downwind all the way to the Berkeley Marina. Racers found the mixed conditions challenging with a wide range of ability level on the water. Local downwind specialist Craig Tanner opted for the short course and finished a strong 2nd behind Tony Hansen. Kim Cantrell of Bellingham, fresh off a week long Gorge trip, finessed the waves and had fun out on the water claiming a 7th place finish. Larry Bussinger won the Golden Masters division and battled across the finish line in 13th. The story of the day was Bellingham’s own Gwyn Howatt, surfing her way to a commanding 1st place finish in the women’s division and 16th place overall, beating out her dad by two spots. Bellingham legend Duncan Howatt was green with a flu at the start but still managed to link waves on the race course and finish 18th, heading straight to the Team Howatt van afterwards to nurse his illness. Look for Duncan to be putting the new Fenn Swordfish through it’s paces, as he heads back to Bellingham with a brand new carbon Swordfish. Bellingham’s “Paddler of the Year” Debbie Arthur stepped up her game this year, taking on the new short course and its mixed conditions, feeling a little queasy at the finish but still smiling. Dan Wakeland, also fresh from the Gorge, ate up the San Francisco with a smile from start to finish.
Doubles Course Highlights
The field was smaller than normal this year for the Sunday doubles race but stacked deep with competition between some of the top international paddlers. Conditions were choppy and flat, with a strong current under the bridge and little to no surfing from the Golden Gate to Berkeley Marina. Despite the flat conditions, times were fast due to a strong flood tide. Dawid Mocke and Sean Rice claimed 1st place with a time of 1:07:01. Breathing down their necks where Barry Lewin and Dave Jensen coming in just 5 seconds behind at 1:07:06. Roughly one minute later, Don Kiesling and Robert Barry claimed 3rd place with a time of 1:08:12. There were 3 mixed teams this year, all married couples, including Patrick and Deanne Hemmes (1st- 1:11:18), Morris and Debbie Arthur (2nd- 1:15:09), and DJ and Kristen Jacobson (3rd 1:16:55). For having not done much of any doubles paddling together this summer, Kristen and I were happy to be out paddling and took in the fun.
Overall, a great two days of racing and big thanks to the race directors and all the volunteers who make this amazing even possible. Can’t wait to next year.
Yesterday was the Wavechaser’s warm-up race from Fort Baker to the Berkeley Marina prior to US Champs next weekend. International paddlers Dawid Mocke and Barry Lewin raced as ringers from SA as warm-up for US Champs. Local paddles Carter and Robin teamed up in a double to prepare for next weeks doubles race and DeAnne & Patrick Hemmens made the trip up to represent their new skis. Yesterday was the first ski race for Austin Kieffer after a week of double workout training sessions in Bellingham,WA.
There was a significant race delay due to low wind conditions, and though the the nervous prerace tension increased during the delay period, the wind remained weak at 11 mph. At 3pm the race started and the race was off with quality bumper boats as paddlers sprinted under the Golden Gate and up to the first turn point. With minutes of the start, the double team of Carter/ Robin and Mocke & Lewin in singles split from the rest of the wolf pack with Patrick Hemmens hot on their heals. The downwind portion of the race consisted of long 3 footers with a bit of San Francisco Bay slop, barge traffic, and threading the needle between sail boats which were clustered between Angel Island and Berkeley. All is all, the conditions for the bay was a two on the scale of ten, but hopefully mother nature was taking the day off and will wake-up less hungover next weekend and unleash her furry for US Champs.
Brief Race results…
1.Dawid Mocke – 1:16:20 – Fenn Elite – though it’s questionable how hard he was racing (he was seen taking pictures with his paddle on his lap on the long runners), Dawid set the standard that he’s the man to beat, but we all know that already.
2.Carter/Robin – 1:16:30 – Fenn Elite Double – the local doubles team to beat just on the heals of Mocke, a team to watch in the doubles race next Sunday.
3.Barry Lewin – 1:16:50 – Customkayak Bullet – Barry was within spitting distance of the lead two boats paddling the new Bullet, definitely a boat to check out.
4.Patrick Hemmens -1:22:35 – Fenn Elite SL – Pat was off with the lead group and held his ground all race, a spec in the distance to most of the following racers. He’s starting to dial in the new Elite SL and is spending the week in the Bay Area preparing for US Champs.
5.Dave Jenson -1:22:43- Special – Dave is well known for his uncanny ability to find the swift waves and current, esp here on his homecourse. Big thanks goes out to him for all his volunteer time/energy for putting on the Wavechaser races
6. DJ -1:24:17- Fenn Swordfish – Very impressed with this race being the second time in this new boat, both fast and stable, can’t wait to get the boat boat to Bellingham for others to try. I’m hoping for big & bad conditions next weekend since I didn’t come here for flatwater!
7.Brent Reitz – 1:24:37- Special – I paddled up to Brent and asked him if his cardiologist knew what he was doing. Brent was keeping the power on during the entire race and had the biggest ear to ear grin throughout.
8. Craig Tanner – 1:25:45- Fenn Elite – Local racer who loves downwinders. He’s been doing more tri training this year, but he’s always dialed into going fast in the bay.
9. Austin Kieffer -1:26:12- Fenn XT – this was his first ski race and second paddle in non Lake Whatcom conditions. With a background as a current top US slalom racer, Austin hit the water after the awards ceremony for another ten mile cruise while most other racers hit the beer and Motrin. Everyone was very impressed with his speed on the flats, now he just needs to figure out how to surf in the next week. Ah, to be 22 and unstoppable….
*18. DeAnn Hemmens -1:29:22 – Fenn Swordfish – top female finisher in her new Swordfish. She walked away from the pack of guys around her and is paddling very well right now, looking for a repeat win next weekend at US Champs. She’s loving the new boat!!
Of note, Bellingham’s own Mike G. won top prize at the raffle (again) this week, is this guy lucky or what???… Patrick has decided to stay in town all week and Austin and I are going to be chasing waves with him all week. We’re headed out to the open ocean today in search of a little excitement. Ocean Paddlesports boats are available for demo all week and will be representing in force at the Friday demo day and I will be bringing the new Fenn Swordfish and Elite SL home to Bellingham with me.
Friday August 5th, DJ and Austin, a slalom whitewater kayaker from Asheville, NC, are on the road to San Francisco for ten days of training, racing, and hopefully some big surfing. DJ will be testing out the Fenn Swordfish, a new boat by Fenn kayaks. The boat’s dimensions fall between those of the Elite and XT and provide an ideal combination of speed and stability for what promises to be a week of big bay conditions. It will be exciting to watch DJ throw down and test the capabilities of the Swordfish in the next two weekends of racing. Austin will be paddling the carbon XT. After three days of learning his way around a surf-ski in the flat water of Bellingham, WA, he is excited to get some exposure to the surfing element of the sport. The light weight, reliable XT will be the perfect boat to give him the stability in big conditions of his first race. Both athletes are excited to get out on the waves and test their Fenn boats in the Sunday race. The race boasts an impressive selection of top US paddlers as well as a strong South African contingent. The Ocean Paddle Sports trailer will also be at the race in force to support the international athletes and display a wide array of Fenn products, including the Elite SL and Swordfish. The race will be a good competitive warm-up for the US Championships in one week. More information and results will be posted after the Sunday race.