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And a cast of hundreds of others, possibly including other members of the select Duckhead Racing Association - see page 34 of Wye Island Regatta XI program. Other Duckhead finish times posted when available. Dan...Lindsey...?
With race partner Tyler hors de combat due to a broken clavicle I enlisted my bowman of old Brian as partner and outfitted the Malecite in full IQ glory as a tandem equipped entry, complete with lash in system, D-rings, foot brace, bow spray shield and belly cover, center flotation and perfectly trimmed seat positions. Darned pretty boat all IQ'ed up; enough so to draw comment and interest from folks before, during and after the race.
During the race one tandem kayak team we encountered (Ok...were passed by) admitted hefting the Malecite and admiring the IQ accessories when the boat was unattended at the launch, and the "Mad" in the Mad River logo drew repeated queries from other racers, mostly along the mad-angry or mad-crazy lines. I told them it must be mad-crazy because we were considering going around again clockwise after we finished. Maybe next year. I'll bet a repeat circuit would be a first for the regatta, although hanging around after the race showing off the IQ system was fun too. I especially enjoyed one gentleman who remarked that he'd read a good review of Mad River's new gunwale system in Paddler.
We undoubted could have gone around again; Duckhead racing speed being at 3/4 of what we might manage full out. While we didn't stop paddling for the usual eddy raft-up or disembarked leg stretcher, we didn't exactly burn out at the finish line either.
I was pleased to see a large portion of other boats doing the same. The serious hut-hut-hut and stroke counters soon disappeared, grimly determined in the distance, and the grinningly determined pleasure cruisers we passed or were passed by all shared a laugh or bit of conversation.
Brian and I slowly closed on a hardworking lap strake dory over the first third of the race. When we finally drew alongside the solo oarsman cheerfully asked "Are you gonna make your move?" and we explained that the small brass cannon swivel-mounted on his bow made us hesitant. He assured us that it didn't matter, as his powder was wet, and we slowly took the lead. I'm sure he was glad for the change of view once we had passed, having been subjected to 4 or 5 miles of Brian and I as the sole blemish on his rearward scenic view.
Laura and Loandra meanwhile, having covered the category of visual oddity by paddling the antique Sockeye, turned to the auditory portion of their race-as-performance-art piece, running through a medley of Disney songs, as well as replacing the traditional hut-hut. By race's end L&L were renown throughout the regatta as "The Singing Girls", AKA "The Banana Boat". They could have finished faster, but Loandra was determined to plot their exact position by frequently consulting the map. Map navigation is of course a task best accomplished while not actually paddling. Bringing a GPS could be worth an easy 10 minutes next year for Team Singing Girls.
Even with this cartographic challenge it appears from the early results that the Sockeye again finished first in class, Women's Double Kayak. And again, like last year, also last in class. It sure helps to be the only entry or only finisher in class. Hakuna matata, Little Mermaids. Next year's time to beat - 2:55.52 (and no hundredths) . That's the Sockeye record.
Brian and I finally caught up with Dave in the Voyageur, although it took us the last 2 miles to close an awfully small gap. This was especially maddening because Brian and I stroked ceaselessly while Dave occasionally stopped paddling to take a drink or scratch his nether regions. Damned but those fast Wenonah boats are hard to catch.
The weather was perfect. Cool, cloudy and occasionally rainy beats hot, sunny and humid any day. We especially enjoyed the rain since the IQ bow and belly covers shed nearly all the water off the Malecite, not to mention all the blade drippings. We wondered about the efficiency of a couple of lightweight built-for-speed Jensen and Savage River boats; on a rainy such race day I believe I'd sacrifice the extra weight of an outwale and spray cover to avoid sloshing around in an eighteen foot water trough.
Paddling the fully dressed Malecite with two 9' double blades combined for continual confusion however. At both the starting line and finish line we were a bit of a mystery, being mistaken for a K2 oddity more than once. And our custom nine-foot canoeing double blade paddles drew post race attention as well.
After the race even the grimly determined racers turned grinningly determined. Grinningly determined to find someone with a cooler of beer. The Duckhead Racing Association may not be noted for their blazing speed, but they are guaranteed to have post-race libations fully covered.
Lessons learned from this year's race:
*Bah on gloves. This was the first time I've worn gloves outside of winter paddling. And the first time I've gotten a blister atop a paddling callus.
*Bah on loading tandem kayaks atop the van using a step ladder. Maybe we should have gone around the course again clockwise; I might have avoided falling off (and then onto) the ladder. Fortunately my cat-like reflexes allowed me to break my fall, using only my ankle, knee and elbow. Pass the Advil and call me Festus for the next few days.
*If you plan to park hundreds of boat laden vehicles and trailers in a field on a rainy day make sure to have a couple of bales of straw to spread over the mammoth mud hole at the entrance. Next year we'll bring the towing cable and chain from the truck.
*Lastly, speaking of next year, maybe we'll bring an even faster boat and the same grinning determination. The Duckhead Racing Association record is now 2:26:04. I almost wish I hadn't traded away that Sawyer Saber.
Annapolis Rowing Club Wye Island Regatta Information:
Take Rte. 50 East over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Follow Rte. 50 E to Rte. 213 S (14 miles east of the Bay Bridge and 5 miles east of Rte. 50/301 split.) Turn right on Rte 213 S and proceed 1 mile to Wye Mills. Stay straight past old church and Wye oak tree. Rte becomes 662 S.
At Wye Landing Lane (c. 2 miles from Wye Mills; look for Regatta sign.) turn right and stay on Wye Landing Lane 2.0 miles to dead-end at Wye Landing.
4-place Boat Trailer