Recently the inaugural Canadian Surfski Championships was held on the beautiful northern tip of Howe Sound, BC. Though I wasn’t expecting a 100% downwind ripper, I was hoping for some bump. As it turned out come race day, the race was flat, but an amazing roster of international athletes were on hand ready to compete and it was a very well run positive event. As one top Aussie athlete said the day before the race “I’m an ocean racer, you get what you get, sometimes downwind, sometimes upwind, and sometimes flat”. That felt like good motivation to pull hard throughout the race.
Ah, but the start… here’s the video;
Not the best video, but also quite evident that it was a moving start line. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that the start went off the way it did. Friends that race ‘the circuit’ say it’s very common in international races for the line to be pushed. Never the less, there has been a lot of chatter, griping, some hilarious finger-pointing, and even history digging, regarding this particular start. As a local hacker who is too slow, too old, etc… to race the international circuit, I can officially say I loved the start. All the US Champs that I’ve competed in have gone off with some degree of line-pushing & I’ll happily admit I like the starting-line jostle.
So, I asked Dawid Mocke what he thought of the start. He wasn’t at the race, so that gives him a little distance from this particular start. As one of the most successful athletes in the sport, strong paddling ambassador, and all around nice guy, I wanted to get his take on the status of race starts on the international circuit.
Q – What is the current race etiquette for racers bumping/creeping the start line in a mass start event?
Dawid – start etiquette – creeping start lines happen at all races everywhere in the world and are seemingly the rule as opposed to exception!
It seems more prevalent in water based starts and where racers haven’t been briefed ad nauseum about the procedure; where its evident that misdemeanors won’t really be policed and where the start line is very wide and loose.
Also where there is too much time spent trying to get a straight line and everyone on it.
You also need a very strong starter.
If you have a standing land based or standing next to your ski start its always much easier to get a clean fair start.
The best method I have seen for a start is Dean Gardiner’s where there is a small startline between two buoys with a front seeded line of paddlers and where everyone must pass through the buoys.