Last Saturday’s “Ride the Wave Regatta” could have been more appropriately named “Side the Wave Regatta” this year; we had plenty of wave action, with wave heights running about 3′ – 4′, but they all seemed to be coming from the side. Such wave action made for plenty of entertaining balance work, and even resulted in a complete 180 degree turn for Roger Crisp, but not much in the way of rides. Yet it was still awesome to be on the “big” lake!
This year Ken Stelter and Dan Plath removed the 19 mile “down wind” course; low participation and the cost/hassle of running that part of the race made it a tough sell to continue. But they did offer 3 other course options: a 7 mile loop course on Lake Michigan, a similar length course on Trail Creek, and a 3.5 mile recreational course on Trail Creek. Concerns about the ability to set up a buoy in the waves with the inflatable powerboat created an alternate course turn designator: a yellow flag inserted in the sand toward the end of the dune line along the shore heading south from Michigan city served as our turn-around point. Paddlers were to turn as they passed the flag, being on the honor system to not “fudge” the distance a bit. Keeping things simple for the timers, all races started near the boat ramp in the marina. From there, paddlers heading out on the lake course went right, and paddlers sticking to Trail Creek went left. The finish was back at the starting point in the marina. Trail Creek racers had a buoy turn point about 1.75 miles upstream, so recreational paddlers went one loop while experienced racers made two trips. With ample warnings to not rile the fishermen along the banks!
Attendance was a bit lower this year than usual, but top talent wasn’t lacking. Rob Hartman, Billy Ballanger (sp?), and a few others joined in the festivities, reminding the rest of us that we’re merely mortal (but all of these guys are really great and personable individuals!) Ted Beatty showed up with his down river kayak, but for some reason avoided Lake Michigan in preference of the calmer waters of Trail Creek. Knowing the blazing speed of Ted in that little boat, my assumption was that he crushed the course. But alas, some hotshot from Michigan showed up in a surf ski and outran Ted! I didn’t get the guy’s name, but as soon as I have the results I’ll send them out.
Ken Stelter and Roger Crisp both brought out their wooden kayaks, giving a classic flavor to the event. In fact, while Roger didn’t dominate the race course, he definitely dominated the style points by showing up in his classic ’73 Volvo P1800 shooting brake sports car with a beautiful strip wood kayak on the roof. You don’t get much more stylish than that! It seemed like half the folks on the beach that day stopped by to ask Roger about his car. I took the road (current?) less traveled and opted to paddle OC1, while the rest of the Big Water Gang chose surf skis as their weapon of choice. And you couldn’t have asked for a much nicer day – blue skies, drier conditions, and comfortable temps in the 70’s. Awesome!
Lake Michigan runners were sent off first, and at the 3rd blowing of the air horn we charged to the entrance of the marina and turned right, out onto the high seas! Or at least something like the high seas, but with no salt or sharks. That I’m aware of. Naturally Rob and Billy dominated right from the start (with Rob in the lead). The other 4 or so of us kept somewhat closer together. I was working on hanging with a surf ski just a bit ahead of me, while Ken Stelter was doing a great job getting a little bit of wave boost to keep pace with me just a short distance back. Roger was following behind Ken. I chose to go a little further out, while the others seemed to hold a little closer to shore. On the way out the “closer to shore” crew seemed to run just a bit faster. But on the way back, things changed and I seemed to pick up a bit more speed (although so did the surf ski I was chasing…). No one had an opportunity to practice remounts that I’m aware of, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of the waves. Coming nearly straight into shore, with just a bit of southerly angle, the waves kept us on our toes with the roll of the boats and nose/tail alternately being pushed one way or the other. Roger found that a lack of rudder on his wooden kayak amped up the challenge quite a bit more; at one point he found himself suddenly turned around 180 degrees. Some guys just don’t get enough challenge doing things the “normal” way! But we all made it back in with smiles to spare.
Many thanks to Ken Stelter, Dan Plath, and the NWIPA gang for putting on a fun and well-run race!
Here are the results from last Saturday’s Ride the Wave Regatta!
Lake Michigan Loop Race
1. Rob Hartman 49:40
2. Billie Bellinger 55:47
1. Eric Haas 1:07:05
2. Ken Stelter 1:11:14
3. Roger Crisp 1:15:42
OC1 – Mens
1. Steve Horney 1:09:15
Trail Creek Loop Race – 2 loops
K1 – Mens
1. Michael Batsie Loop 1 30:04; Total 1:01:01
2. Ted Beatty Loop 1 31:35; Total 1:04:48
Trail Creek Recreational – 1 loop
1. Tracey Stevens 59:43
1. Eric Plath 54:30
2. Matt Plath 59:05