Ride the Wave Regatta Results and Race Report!
September 9, 2017
Neither wind nor waves nor the occasional swim could hinder us from reaching our destination! In fact, sometimes it helped… The 2017 something or other annual running of the Ride the Wave Regatta is now history, and what an excellent event it was! Ironically, while offering the superb conditions most of the racers have been clamoring for these past 3 or so years, it was probably the lowest attended Ride the Wave Regatta of the past several years. There’s a rumor that a number of the usual suspects were off somewhere else practicing for other upcoming races, but no one seems to know for certain. Definitely their loss! Lower turnout or not, Ken Stelter, Dan Plath, and their contingent of volunteers put on a first-class, truly outstanding race. From having safety boats to a bus to transport paddlers to drinks at the finish, they seemed to cover every detail.
This year paddlers were offered 3 race options: the 18.4 mile marathon course on Lake Michigan, an 8 mile loop course on Lake Michigan, or a 3 lap course on Trail Creek (roughly 10.5 miles). Our hearty USCA crew divided up the events, with Matt Conrad, Bill Kanost, Deb Kanost, and Paul Kane opting for Trail Creek. Roger Crisp headed out onto the open seas of the 8 mile loop with his beautiful wood strip kayak, along with Paul Kane. Matt Meersman paddled the marathon course in OC1 while Ted Beatty and I paddled the marathon course in an OC2. Winds were listed as east-south-east, which I assumed would generate mostly side chop, but in reality most of the waves were at our back paddling the reversed (Michigan City to Gary) marathon course. Good thing, because that’s a heck of a long way for old guys to paddle, and we needed all the help we could get!
As I understand it, Matt Conrad was only one initially signed up for the Trail Creek course, but one short venture out into the waves with his ICF trainer convinced Bill that Trail Creek might just be the ideal race for a Saturday morning. Deb, in a similar type of boat, saw Bill’s wisdom and opted to join him as well. Paul Kane was sporting a surf ski, but apparently the flat water was a more appealing option to him. It sounds like the racing was good, and while Deb pushed Matt Conrad pretty hard, Matt’s strength allowed him to prevail in the tightest “sub-race” of Trail Creek. Bill smoked everyone, with Paul coming in between Bill and the rest.
I understand the 8 mile course pushed Roger fairly hard, but he prevailed and finished well. Paddling a non-ruddered sea kayak shows what tough stuff he’s made of! I’m not sure what happened with the two DNF’s, but I suspect the wave action could have been pretty challenging if you’re predominantly a flat-water paddler.
Our marathon adventure was full of thrills and challenges. You might think an outrigger canoe would be almost untippable, but waves are funny critters. Sometimes a wave will come through from behind and left, dropping the hull into a trough while raising the ama onto a crest, moving the CG precariously to the right. It’s best to be on your game in that situation. A couple of times we weren’t… On the flip side (literally), getting into an overturned outrigger is relatively easy and the comfortable waters of Lake Michigan provided a well-needed refreshment during a tough race. Ted and I opted to swim twice along the way, but we didn’t hold the record; Yvon Dufour, following us in a surf ski, sampled the waters 4 times! Generally, though, the waves were our friends. It was really cool to watch the speed go from something like 5.9 on the back side of a wave to well over 7 (and up to 8.4 once) when we were able to catch and surf some of the better waves. On several occasions either the boat would drop through the crest of a wave it was straddling or a random side wave would come through, thoroughly drenching us and filling the cockpits (not an issue; the small self-draining cockpits are designed for this.) This was definitely not the St. Joe River (either one) – but it was a heck of a lot of fun! Ted, in the front of the canoe, set the pace – and he’s a harsh task master. I’m not sure how he keeps up such a cadence over the long haul, but I’ve threatened to equip him with a larger-bladed paddle next time…
Distances have a funny way of looking short on the water, but ending up being longer than anticipated. Fortunately we had some good clues (and a GPS) to lead the way, guiding us safely to port. We opted to take a more off-shore line in the hopes of picking up some bigger waves, which seemed to work well overall. As I wore down later in the race, Ted made the comment that at least we wouldn’t have to sprint at the end (Yvon was well behind us at that point). I should know better than to listen to Ted; Yvon somehow made up some good time along the way and began closing in upon us perilously as we approached our destination. Little did we know what we had a boat full of water at that point, but it didn’t really seem to hurt us too much. I had a surge of energy, the waves were bigger and coming from a perfect direction, giving us some great rides, and we were able to crank it up a couple of notches to power the OC2 in for a victorious 3rd place – just 9 seconds ahead of Yvon. 3 hrs of racing and only a 9 second spread. We definitely earned our post-race hamburgers!
Meanwhile we watched Matt Meersman overcome his initial jitters with the OC1 and head out across the expanse commandingly. Matt apparently managed to surf a substantial numbers of waves during his crossing, despite his closer-to-shore line (the OC1 he was paddling is a superb surfing machine), and somehow he avoided any swims. No one could touch superman Rob Hartman in his ski, but Matt Meersman came in 2nd overall and still had his classic Matt smile at the finish.
Many thanks to Ken, Dan, and the North West Indiana Paddlers groups for an excellent set of races!
1 Rob Hartman 2:16:33 Unlimited
2 Matt Meersman 2:43:04 OC1
3 Steve Horney/Ted Beatty 3:00:20 OC2
4 Yvon Dufour 3:00:29 Unlimited
5 Ralph Scofield 3:28:42 SK
1 Kiril Florov 1:33:57 Unlimited Men
2 Eric Haas 1:41:11 Unlimited Men
3 Daniel Sikora 1:47:43 Unlimited Men
4 Catherine Bellario 1:56:17 Unlimited Women
5 Roger Crisp 2:00:11 Unlimited Men
6 Stephen Lytle 2:30:38 Unlimited Men
[dnf Kathyrn Dittemore (1:31:15) Unlimited Women]
[dnf Larry Swift (1:17:08) SK Men]
1 Bill Kanost 1:34:10
2 Paul Kane 1:43:31
3 Matt Conrad 1:51:26 SK
4 Deb Kanost 1:52:55
5 David Tripp 1:57:43