Tippecanoe Race Report
May 5, 2018
We came, we C1’d, we conquered….sort of.
Upon arriving at Terry’s Tippecanoe Race Saturday, I picked my new-to-me C1 from Dave Hendrich. The fit was perfect, trim was right on, and I was a natural. There was great fear in Bill Kanost’s eyes as I said “Bill – you’re going down!” As soon as Terry yelled “GO!”, I slammed my paddle into the river and let ‘er fly. Talk about smoke on the water! Ol’ Bill never had a chance. And then my alarm went off and it was time to drag my rear end out of bed and groggily make my way to the race…
Tippecanoe always seems like something of a joyful reunion of race paddlers following the winter hibernation. Even the relative coolness and the threat of rain in the morning couldn’t put a damper on the occasion. A goodly number of our usual characters were on the scene, along with a couple of fireman who were new to racing but who put down a good run in their tandem Wenonah rec boat (not sure of the model). Sonja was there, but she left all the racing chores to Guy. It appears that when a spider sat down beside her (or rather hid in the leg of her pants) she didn’t quite have the Miss Muffet experience. Maybe it was her lack of curds and whey, but this particular brown recluse took offense at Sonja trying to occupy the same space as himself and became rather anti-social, leaving Sonja with some significant time off to rebuild her immune system.
The dam release was a bit higher than usual, giving us good water for the entirety of the race and high average speeds. You could still hit a rock if you were determined, but avoidance was easy enough if you weren’t trying to text and paddle at the same time – tough to do with the lack of cell phone coverage in the area. All racers came through unscathed as far as I know.
Our race classes became more homogeneous than usual at Tippecanoe, with all the USCA racers running either C1s or Sea Kayaks (except for our classic C2 Aluminum pair). Roger Crisp classified himself as K1 Open (technically correct, since his boat is a little long for the USCA Sea Kayak specs), but he still ran what most of us would consider a Sea Kayak.
Following an alien abduction where they altered my brain cells, I decided I should try my hand at C1 racing this year. Being the sadist that he is, Dave Hendrich enabled this masochistic pursuit by selling me his Wenonah J203, delivering it to me at the race. That last time someone delivered a boat to me at a race I ended up swimming the better part of Sugar Creek. Thankfully the transition wasn’t as traumatic this time, but Dave did pull a fast one on me, selling me a defective boat. No rudder at all! Dave claims they’re supposed to be that way. Sure Dave…
I brought along my new ZRE paddle, still at an uncut 54”, but it didn’t feel right to me yet and I figured I was tempting fate enough with a new boat experience. No need to expand that temptation with the challenge of a new and ill-fitting paddle, so I kept it with me as a spare and resorted to my trusty OC1 paddle.
In my new racing quest, I found directional control of the C1 seemed to be a game of averages; you sort of average the back and forth motions of the boat in hopes that you’ll eventually get to where you’re generally aiming, assuming you don’t get washed off a wake into another boat. Like Roger’s. I am assuming that in the Great Quest for Beer, someone paid off Roger to take me out early. Surely it wasn’t my lack of boat control… About halfway through the course I figured out enough of the idiosyncrasies of the J203 to gain a respectable amount of boat control. But it’s going to take a bit of practice to actually become decent.
Following a rapid drift downstream to the start, Terry gave the “go” signal just as we passed under the bridge. We all had a pretty solid start, with some packs forming early. As we started to space out, Bill Kanost and Ted Beatty looked like Siamese twins, running side by side and hard for the entire race. Occasionally one or the other tried to make some moves to drop the other, but neither had the power to pull away. As you can see from the results that follow, Bill eked out the absolute narrowest of wins – Just a tenth of a second! That’s some hard-core racing over 10 miles. For Ted to push Bill that hard means he’s done some serious work over the winter.
Larry Swift and Skeet Craig formed the second tier of paddlers, both putting in impressive performances. Larry edged out Skeet by just 21 seconds.
The third tier was composed of Roger Crisp and Deb Kanost – and me for a while. After our mix-up at the start, I pulled ahead of Roger and hung with Deb for a goodly while, but Roger, the model of consistency, gradually caught up. After a bit they pulled away from me, each trying different lines to get the lead over the other, with Deb prevailing in the end. Deb has become quite a strong kayak paddler, and Roger has shown super improvement after being out of racing for so many years.
The rest of us kind of scattered out behind the first three gangs as shown in the results below. Dave Hendrich brought up the end of the C1 class, but he’s been fighting a lung issue for some time, and it really whacks him. It’s amazing he could paddle so well considering the fact that breathing sort of makes racing a bit easier…
We must be getting older; no one wanted to race in the afternoon (George Tinsley and Hilman Culp were apparently willing, but opted not to go by themselves), so we headed to our Spring USCA meeting a little earlier than usual. A relaxed and enjoyable after-race meeting took care of our Spring USCA stuff, then a number of us headed over for a meal at the Oakdale Dam restaurant, where we sat around comparing the effects of aging on our respective bodies. But as Roger says, we’re still vertical and taking nourishment – and still having fun on the water!
See you all at Sugar Creek!
2018 TIPPECANOE MARATHON RESULTS
K-1 OPEN Roger Crisp 1st 1:20:52
K-1 Women Sea Kayak Deb Kanost 1st 1:20:07
K-1 Men Sea Kayak
Larry Swift 1st 1:17:52
Matt Conrad 2nd 1:25:49
Bill Kanost 1st 1:14:025
Ted Beatty 2nd 1:14:026
Skeet Craig 3rd 1:18:03
Steve Horney 4th 1:22:26
Guy Gilman 5th 1:26:15
Dave Hendrich 6th 1:27:23
Adam Hinkle 1st 1:25:56
George Tinsley 1st 1:30:56