Tim and I changed the course for this year’s race to a 2 loop and 1 leg race that kept all racers close to shore. Why? It was easier than dropping a buoy in Hull Cove then going back to retrieve in Tim’s motor boat. Despite the change, I was looking forward to the loop course of a total of 8.88 miles. Racers would get the refractory, jobbly, lumpy, mixed waters this stretch of Narragansett Bay is known for. Most of us drop down to an intermediate class of ski figuring stability is the key for this course. Today had no wind for us that kept the conditions down but despite this, Ride The Bull is rarely benign.
The race gets its name from one of its points of land, Bull Point, hence Ride the Bull. We had a nice group of paddlers including the boys from upstate New York: Todd, John, Jim and even Ed Joy showed up. Ed is former Blackburn Challenger winner of years ago and now living in Hawaii paddling OC’1’s. Jim, John, and Todd have gotten serious about ocean paddling over the last few years and have found their groove. No longer just “flat water” paddlers, these boys can get it done placing 2nd, 5th, 6th respectively.
I was glad to finally meet Ed Joy. I have heard his name over the years and saw him a number of years back at the East Coast Surfski Championship held on the Seekonk River in Providence due to a pending hurricane. As I mentioned Ed has won the Blackburn a few times in the late 1990’s and early 2000 if memory serves me correctly. We had a nice conversation about the differences between OC’s and surfski paddling in Hawaii. The jest was OC’1s are more stable, fun, surf great, and 9o% of racers are OC paddlers vice surfskis paddlers. And of course their is the long culture of OC’s.
It was great to see our training partner Bob Wright, a local Jamestowner, have a good race. Bob is like the bionic man, nothing keeps Bob down for long. I passed Bob on a return leg, red faced and paddling hard to the can at house on the rocks. There was a big gap between Bob’s group and the rest of the field. Max completed the course for first time and realized that leg drive goes away in conditions. I told Max that is one key factor that separates the field in ocean paddling, who can keep their leg drive in conditions. Chris Laughlin also had a good race for his first time on the course placing 4th. MaryBeth continues her winning tradition and probably has more ocean time than any other women in New England.
As far as my race, I was not sure how I would do. I changed my focus this year, trying to peak for a few races vice all the races. So I am training through most of the races on my way to hopefully peak for the Blackburn. I did end up two minutes behind Tim which seems to be typical this year vice all our other years where we are typically within a minute of each other.
Look for Greg’s write up on what happened at the front end of the pack. Double Beaver Race is next. More of the same conditions for this race but Tim is going to make it shorter, probably 8 miles vice the normall 10. Then on to Blackburn Challenge for some of us, while many New Englander paddlers will be at the Gorge with the rest of the paddling world!