Kayaker, Engineer, Athlete, Tinkerer

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lofer World Cup Sprint Race Wrap Up

The last I left off was the night before the sprint race and at the moment my footboard was for the most part intact so lets pick up on saturday morning, before the sprint race.  The day started with getting up and eating some food before heading off up river to warm up on the longer classic section before the sprint race. The german team showed up right as we did and they were jamming out to the song "99 Red Balloons" and for some reason I thought that was funny so I was in a good mood as I carried my boat down to the river.  The sprint race is very dynamic and with only the better of two runs counting, all you need is one good run so it encourages more radical and flat out runs where pushing hard can result in better times or bad crashes.  Anyway I walked down to the river, "99 Red Balloons" now stuck in my head, coax my lengthy legs into to the cockpit, press the foot board lightly to get planted in the boat and hear the horrible crack as my right leg becomes loose as that side of the foot board gave way once again.... (insert creative curse word here).

I gently worked my way down the warm up run trying very little, too irate to care. At the beginning of the sprint course I pulled out, no point going further, I need to be firmly connected to the boat in order to make the precise moves down the narrow race lines.  After I carried the boat back to our apartment, I crawled in to check, yep definitely broken. The start time for my first run was in about an hour and 20 minutes, too short to do a proper epoxy repair especially since the boat was wet and the weather was cool and overcast.  Another look revealed that the original carbon piece that had initially separated was now in fact broken so I couldn't cheat it with duct tape and zip ties. At this point I was too cross to care and took off my gear and resigned myself that I wouldn't be able to race, just not in the cards.  But it only took about a minute of sitting around with the thought of racing in my head before I figured there had to be another way.  While I'm not fast, I'm had a lot of practice at dealing with unexpected, unconventional situations, like hitch hiking 60 miles in rural northern Georgia when the clutch cable snapped on my motorcycle snapped on the edge of an impending thunderstorm front.  Since it was still attached on the left, it was held in roughly the right position, it was just loose on the right side, and since the only force applied, would be directly perpendicular to the plane of the board, in theory I could just tie a rope around it or something. Well that's exactly what I did,  I grabbed some nylon cord I had and tied a loop around the board and connected it to the wooden thigh bars attached in the boat.
 using my B.S. in engineering, or does that mean BS engineering?

The focal point of so much suffering

After tying is the best I could, I slid in to test it out.  There was about 1/2 on spring, but it seemed strong enough, well that was good enough for me. Back in action!  My plan was to complete 1 run just to get a time on the board, it wouldn't be fast, just wanted to be a part of the race considering the circumstances.  So after another warm up I worked down to the start line as ready I could be for the race. One the timer ticked down to 0 I cranked hard off the line, breaking the beam of the laser eye, starting the official time.  I accelerated hard, but not to full speed, my plan was to have clean lines and hopefully an intact boat.  The top and middle of the course was good I was happy with my lines, at the crux move I was too far left on the main drop, since the horrible piton was fresh in my mind I wanted to play it safe but when the line is 4" wide, if you're off it, there will be a hit, and I heard a good "thunk" as the stern slammed to rock, but racing runs are not the time to care about the boat I worked to pick up the pace and bring it across the line. Since I made it down, with the boat not taking on water I was satisfied.  I walked the boat back, changed into dry clothes and went back to the course to watch everyone else finish.  As the faster, and faster racers came down, my place kept getting bumbed down, but not nearly as much as I thought. After the first runs I was sitting in 33rd place, same as my classic finish!  Needless to say I was quite surprised, so much for only one run, time to go big or go home.  I prepped with another warm up, but fully attacked the second run, I even had a much cleaner line on the main drop with only a slight tap, but even better was threading the needle between the two rocks immediately between the main drop, I had never made that line before so I was pretty happy to make it in the race run. After I crossed the finish line and sucked some air I looked up for my time. As I looked I saw 1:13.xx yes! better, while I only took 6/10th of a second off my first run, I improved, had a cleaner run, I was satisfied. Sadly several others had faster second runs so I actually finished 37th, but oh well I was happy. In light of the re-broken footboard, and the fact that the 3rd World Cup race was on the exact same course as the first cup race I elected not to race.  There was no way I was going to do better with a broken footboard.  Plus it was nice to know that I was done.  Weeks of racing takes a lot of thought as well as physical energy so I was a huge relief to just be done.  Now time to relax!  The way the sprint works is that the top 15 advance to final race so I had time to grab the camera and snap some photos of the pro's so everyone can see how it's done.
A fast German airing out the drop, the landing zone is a bit tight
Aussie paddler Rob McIntyre pulling his way to an 8th place finish

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