Q: Who are you?
A: My name is Greg Lesher. Since 2011 I've been an active participant in New England surfski races. I frequently write race reports for my blog (Full Tilt) and for SurfskiRacing.org. Last summer I was researching the North American surfski scene for a blog entry. When I looked up from my computer several days later, I had an ungainly spreadsheet detailing 100+ different races. Having organized race data and created some web pages for New England racing, I figured I could do the same for all of the US and Canada. Since then I've been trawling the net collecting data and creating a web framework in which to present the information.
I approached Wesley Echols and Chris Chappell about the possibility of integrating the "Surfski America" project into SurfskiRacing.com. They agreed and here we are. Over the next few months, I hope to add additional information, clean up the data I already have, and add some new features (like the ability to browse paddlers).
Q: What races are included?
A: Determining whether to include a given race in Surfski America has been something of a subjective process. I found 80 or so races that are either dedicated to surfskis or have historically had at least 10 skis participating. However, there are quite a few other races that would clearly be of interest to the general surfski community, but haven't necessarily attracted many skis so far. Additionally, there are many races – particularly non-ocean events – for which I don't have enough information to tell how many surfskis (if any) competed. As a general rule, if a race had at least 3 surfskis, or had a dedicated surfski class, or looks particularly ripe for a surfski invasion in the future, I've included it. I haven't included weekly races (like Vancouver's popular Tuesday Night Series), but may in the future.
Q: Which results are included?
A: While the primary purpose of Surfski America is to catalog upcoming surfski events, I also wanted to make it a place to collate and preserve past results. Where possible, I've found historical data and entered into the site. Because this is a site dedicated to surfskis, I only include results for skis, even if the race had other classes of boats (which most do). This is easy when a race has a dedicated surfski class (or a dedicated HPK class), but gets a little trickier when skis are included in an "unlimited" or "longer than 17 feet" or "kayak". Many races simply don't provide enough information to identify which boats are surfskis. My hope is that this site will gain enough popularity that casual "field correspondents" will help me with this task. Whenever possible, I've provided direct links to the official race results.
Q: How did you come up with race "ratings"?
A: The race rating is my rough attempt to classify a race by how "good" it is as a surfski race on a five star scale. Clearly that's a subjective term. In determining the quality of a race I take into account number of skis, course, conditions, competitiveness, organization, venue, and reputation. In general, if a race has 20 or more skis, it's likely to get at least a 4. And if it has fewer than 10 skis, it probably won't be above a 2. You're going to disagree with my ratings because they're my subjective ratings and not yours. Feel free to try to convince me I'm wrong. Here are some representative examples of each rating:
5: Molokai, US Surfski Championship, Blackburn Challenge, Hal Rosoff Challenge, Round Bowen Challenge
4: TC Waterman, Jamestown Double Beaver, Return to Pier, La Connor, , some Wavechaser races
3: Shark Bite Challenge, Phatwater Challenge, Ride the Bull, Back on Black, Ride the Wave Regatta, Lake Whatcom Classic, Patriot Challenge
2: Festirame, Battle on the Bayou, MCKC races, The GAS, Chattajack 31
1: Salt Spring Classic, Quincy 5 Miler, Warrior's Challenge
Q: What is the "ski class"?
A: This is the boat class in which surfskis must register for a race. For big surfski races, there's usually a dedicated "surfski" class, or a slightly more inclusive "HPK" (high performance kayak) class. For races on protected waters, you might also see "unlimited kayak" (which may or may not include ICF boats) or "surfski/K-1" or "race kayak". For races less geared to competitive kayak racing, skis will often be in the longest/skinniest class, like "long kayak" or "kayak > 17 feet".
Q: What is the "course type"?
A: The course type describes (in approximate terms) the shape of the course, occasionally with a little flavor of the prevailing current and wind conditions. A race that starts in one place and ends in another is either "One Way", "Downwind", or "Downriver". A race that starts and ends in the same place (or close to the same place) is either "Out and Back", "Loop", "Lollipop" (an "Out and Back" that "Loops" something substantially at the turn-around, usually an island), or a "Out and Back T" (which goes up a shore, comes back past the start, then returns to the start). There are a few races that don't quite fit in any category. These I call "Complex".
Q: What is the "setting"?
A: This is an attempt to quantify the nature of the water the race is held in. In some races there's a lot of room for interpretation, but it'll give you a general feel for the race. The setting consists of a "water type" (like "Ocean" or "Small River") and a "water conditions" (a very coarse approximation of how susceptible the course is to weather conditions). The current water types are "Ocean", "Big Lake", "Lake", "Small Lake", "Big River", "River", "Small River", "Canal", "Lagoon", "Estuary", "Inlet", "River and Lake", and "River and Ocean". If a race doesn't fit neatly in one of those categories, I've jammed it in the closest approximation. If the water conditions are "Open", there's limited shore protection from wind and waves. Conversely, if the course is "Protected" there are at least some natural barriers to temper the conditions. If it's "Flat", you're on a small waterway that never really has waves. If you're on a river, you might be "Class 1" or "Class 2" (or maybe "Open" or "Protected" or "Flat", depending on the river).
Q: Anything else?
A: If you have a race you think should be listed on the site, or if you have any corrections or additional information about any of the races already here, please don't hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).