I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind since the event was announced earlier this year. I toyed with going. Not really sure if I was going to get in over my head with the conditions. But it didn’t take much of a nudge to put me over the edge and sign up just before the registration deadline for the first ever Canadian Surfski Championships.
I’ve raced the course on an outrigger a few times so I was familiar with the cold water and the potential wave size, I figured that I’ve learned a lot about wave riding since the last time I did the course 4 years ago. I had the chance to play in some big waves here on Lake Okanagan and was comfortable. So …. Why Not?!
And what a blast! Lining up with the biggest names in the surfski world! Wow!
I had no expectations for my performance. I just wanted to go out there, have fun and see what I could do in my first real surfski race. It didn’t take long for the competitive juices to kick in. I played it safe off the start but then I started to pick targets to catch and pass one by one. There was a little bit of wave play but nothing that was fast enough to ride for any length of time. I was moving faster than the waves 🙁
I felt good crossing the line, I had about 250ml of my Vitargo left in my hydration pack and hadn’t touched any of my gels. 20.5km in 1:46 crossing as the fifth female but first Canadian Woman. It was a big surprise for me at the awards ceremony to find out that there was money awarded for the Top Canadian Woman. Even bigger surprise was the giant novelty cheque!
This past weekend was the Howe Sound Iron Outrigger Race which served as the Canadian Outrigger National Championships in beautiful Gibsons, BC.
Saturday was the OC6 (6 person outrigger canoe) race. It was listed as a 26km course but thanks to my team’s amazing steersperson, Christine, our route was only 23km. It was an exciting race right from the start! There was an island about 250m from the start that all teams had to turn around before starting their journey up the shoreline. With 14 boats on the line, we knew things would be tight coming into that turn but we were not expecting to be cut off by an experienced crew beside us as they were pinched as well. Our Kelowna boat stopped in order to prevent the boat that cut us off from going into the rocks and also running into two other boats. This meant that we had to restart after the team ahead got straightened out and out of our way. From here we had to play catch up. We knew that we had a lot of distance ahead and stuck to what we’re good at … making every stroke count.
First we passed my former club from Toronto, Wai Nui before making our way past the Comox women. That left three boats ahead of us. Following the buoy turn at the 6km mark we managed to pull in the False Creek women and make the pass. We spent the rest of the race chasing down Gorge from Victoria (team that we had to stop for). Words can’t even express how proud I am of my Kelowna teammates for digging deep and coming within 5 seconds in a 2 hour 10 minute race. We were 32 seconds behind the first place crew for a third place finish.
Sunday’s small boat race was exciting on so many levels. My good friend Ron let me use his Ehukai which is the same boat that I’ll be getting next month. Lolo Wiki (Crazy Fast) did not disappoint! Though she did throw me into the ocean twice during the race, I still managed to reel in a lot of paddlers to the point where there was only one other OC1 ahead of me. I almost had him before the second swim but alas, I was the top woman.