Category Archives: Racing

Gorge – Downwind heaven!

I just got home from one of the most fantastic weeks of paddling that I’ve had (and there have been a lot!). I had the privilege of spending a week down in the Hood River, OR area paddling the Columbia River Gorge.  This place is a downwind mecca! #wavesfordays Rick and I got down to Home Valley, WA just as the sun was going down on Sunday night. Got our tent set up and crashed. Monday morning started with a stroke clinic with the one and only Johnny Puakea. It was great to work with him again and hear his insights into technique and of course ideas of how to make me go faster. It’s still sinking in some of the points he shared that have evolved since I last worked with him in 2013.  After that, it was time for the downwind runs to start!

As the week went on, I got to paddle with lots of people from Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Seattle and all over. It was great to visit with old friends and make new ones as well. Sleeping in a tent for the first time in a lot of years worked out better than I could have hoped. Thank goodness for all my Diabetes supplies as an adhesive covering for my infusion sites/sensor sites worked as a great patch on my air mattress :)

The main reason I was at the Gorge was to paddle in the Gorge Paddling Festival’s North American Downwind Championships. The organizers had a wind window for the race and based on the forecasts moved the race ahead a day. So Thursday was the big day. Sadly the turnout for outriggers wasn’t near what it hopefully will be in the future but the surfskis started only a few minutes behind so there were lots of boats on the water to battle with.

by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography
by Stawicki Photography

I’m super stoked with my race, I changed my line from previous runs based on what I had learned and heard from others and managed to pass a few boats that way. I caught as many runs as I could but there was a stretch where it completely died out. But on the other hand, there were sections where I had some surfski guys doing double takes as I flew by.  I finished as the top woman and seventh overall in outrigger.

By Ernie Wong
By Ernie Wong

The next day was the Wildside Relay where I teamed up with Vancouver powerhouse, Rob Magus. Again, the wind was kicking and I had some of the best rides of my career coming through Swell City.  I didn’t want to pull in to the relay exchange as the rides were so much fun!  Rob and I were the top OC1 mixed team and 8th overall in OC1.

by Tran Luu
by Tran Luu

It was sad to leave on Sunday and go back to work but I will  get back down there next summer to defend my title and hopefully bring a ton of paddlers from Kelowna Paddle Centre with me!

Canadian Surfski Championships

Tamlyn, Greg and I ready for action
Tamlyn, Greg and I ready for action

Another fabulous event put on by Bob and the great folks at Deep Cove Outdoors! The wind was kickin and the competition was stronger than last year’s inaugural event. I had a much better idea of what to expect this year. I was even granted a “special” yellow number thanks to my win last year. This allowed me on the front line for the start which meant less nasty wash to deal with.

Photo: Matthew Abbott
Photo: Matthew Abbott

Though it was my Epic V12 that crossed the line as the first Canadian Woman this year, unfortunately I was in my Epic V10 Sport as I had loaned my V12 to fellow Kelowna Paddle Centre athlete Tamlyn Bohm. She rocked it and beat me by a minute putting Kelowna 1/2 on the Canadian Woman’s podium! Next year we hope to bring more paddlers from Kelowna!

Photo: Matthew Abbott
Photo: Matthew Abbott

I got to meet a couple great guys from the Vancouver Sun, below is a video they did on the event. Click the link to find the page with the video.  Piece from the Vancouver Sun

 

Survive the Triangle? No, it was conquered!

Survive_the_Triangle_06202015_lgThis weekend was my first weekend of racing in 2015. A little later in the year than normal but I’m following my plan to lead me to the World Outrigger Sprints next May.

Kelowna Paddle Centre had a number of paddlers competing this weekend. Three boats were in the first race at 9:30am on Saturday: an open mixed crew and novice mixed crew in the 10km short course along with our Women’s crew which I had the privilege of paddling with.  The KPC mixed crew kept us honest for the first 10km and after they finished we went for the second lap. It ended up a couple minutes slower than the first and a stronger headwind but overall, we were happy with the race. The girls are strong and had more in the tank if it was needed but second place was almost 14 minutes behind our 1 hour 46 minute time for the 20km.  I was thankful for my Vitargo during the race (raced with grape mixed with unflavoured this time) as my blood sugars started at 9.7 and finished at 4.5. Shortly after we got out of the boat and took it back up to the trailer, I had my Vitargo Post in hand. The open mixed, novice and men’s crews all won their races as well.

I was so proud during the awards dinner to see my husband up getting an award for being part of the winning novice crew in his first race. I was also stoked to see so many of my clinic participants up receiving crew awards as well. It was nice being able to see them on the water doing a lot of the things we talked about at the clinic!

Today was the small boat event. Once again KPC was well represented. With a mass start, I had the opportunity to start against the men’s OC1 and OC2s. I had a great start, hitting a max speed of 13.9km/hr. I’m looking forward to seeing the drone footage of it. I had lots of space after the first few strokes and stayed on the gas for the first couple kilometers. I have to admit, I was feeling Saturday’s 20km for the first half but about km 6 I started to feel good and was able to lengthen my stroke, rotate more and use more effective leg drive. I could hear a few boats behind me and there was no way I was going to let them catch up.  I finished as the first woman across the line but also placed 2nd overall in the OC1. When I checked out my Dexcom graph, blood sugars spiked a bit after the beginning of the race but came right back down by the end. Once again, after my boat was up on the grass I had my Vitargo Post as I know that tomorrow’s 6am workout will come pretty quick and I know that without Post, I’d be sluggish and going through the motions instead of being able to push and get the most of the training session.

Thank you to the organizers for their time and efforts in putting on the event.
And of course thank you to my husband, sponsors and supporters for continuing to believe in me and keep my dream alive.  Vitargo, Vynna, Animas, Okanagan Peak Performance, Wave Physiotherapy

Kalamalka Classic – You gotta paddle here!

If you have never experienced the Kal Classic SUP Festival then you need to put it on your calendars right now for next Labour Day weekend. Kevin, Mel, Allan and the rest of the crew at Kalavida Surf Shop put on one heck of an event. There’s something for everyone from your World Champion (like Lina Augaitis), to your weekend warrior, to your 4 year old child and everyone in between. It was great to catch up with paddlers that I’ve met over the past two seasons and hang out.
This year did not disappoint with mother nature even coming to the party on Saturday with a mess of wind for the Wiki Holo Finals! But she failed to give us that kind of wind for the 16km down Kal Lake on Sunday.

I finished third over the weekend behind World Champ Lina Augaitis and amazing paddler Shannon Bell (who also has had great showing at the 2013 ISA Worlds). It’s a privilege to be able to line up with these two along with the other fantastic women that were there this weekend.
I had a rough start to the Wiki Holo technical course heat. Thank goodness it was two laps! I was 6th off the start and managed to make it up to fourth by the end of the first lap and third by the second buoy of the second lap and held on. I was stoked with my pivot turns!

Photo by: Mark Klein
Photo by: Mark Klein

The finals was just one lap but worth double the points! The competitive women got to watch the rec classes and competitive men battle the waves on the course before we got our turn. Instead of pivot turns that went beautifully in my heat, I tried to play it safe with cross bows. Well, after 3 or 4 swims I was thankful that I’m strong in a headwind as that’s where i was able to make up a lot of ground to battle for third again.

Making the pass!
Making the pass!
It was so close we didn't know who was 3rd or 4th
It was so close we didn’t know who was 3rd or 4th

The relay races to end the day lead to a Naish One Inflatable SUP being awarded. Absolute blast with my team!

4 people + 1 board
4 people + 1 board

Sunday morning saw 100+ paddlers going down the length of Kal Lake. With a little headwind and Debbie on my tail for the first half, I knew I had to stay strong. I never looked back to see when I dropped Debbie off my wash but I knew I couldn’t hear her anymore. I also knew that if I let up that she would be working her way right back up there! Thank goodness for my hydration pack filled with Vitargo. I wasn’t thirsty per se but I knew I needed the fuel to keep going that hard. It did not disappoint, I didn’t cramp, I didn’t bonk, I was able to keep pulling even after I could feel the blisters on my fingers break open. My official time was 2:02:01 on my 12’6 Bark Competitor. Not to shabby considering last year I was 1:57:18 on my 14′ Think XoR with no headwind.

Fantastically fast women!
Fantastically fast women!

One more race and then my season is complete. What a year it’s been for my “year off, just paddling for fun and not training.”

Thanks to Mark Klein, Neil Gibson and Dorine Berube for taking such great photos!

“Why Not?!” once again leads me into the Unknown

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!

The biggest names in the surfski world were here ... talk about star struck!
The biggest names in the surfski world were here … talk about star struck!

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 :(

about 1.5km from the finish up river
about 1.5km from the finish up river

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!

Totally caught off guard that there was a prize for Top Canadian Woman!
Totally caught off guard that there was a prize for Top Canadian Woman!