Tag Archives: Blackburn Challenge

Two Days to Blackburn Challenge and Everyone is Ready

Including Rubber Duck. She has been pumping iron (and a one and a two, OK now)

and has now moved on from the Horribles Parade hat she was sitting on last week and is now safely strapped down to the forward kayak cockpit with the secret Rubber Duck Tracker GPS System® attached below the black seal. Click the link to go to the Rubber Duck Tracking System®.

The Blackburn Challenge will start behind the Gloucester High School and the starting gun for her race is 8:20 AM this Saturday. She will start paddling and activate her Rubber Duck powered GPS system around 8AM. Then it is up the Annisquam River over to Halibut Point, down Sandy Bay past Rockport then all uphill into the tide and southwest wind along the backshore to the DogBar Breakwater then turn right for another uphill two mile paddle to the greasy pole. Right now the tracker is showing Rubber Duck as she went to Falmouth Inner Harbor to catch a bluefin tuna on Tuesday (photos when available). Be sure to “refresh” the page and you will know exactly where she is all day which will be about two hours behind the winners although she is quite svelte now for a Rubber Duck and might burn some rubber on the track. So if you have nothing better to do check it out and meet us on Pavilion Beach a little after noon Saturday. Paul Frontiero will be there to capture the exit from the kayak on video.

Countdown to Blackburn

Cape Ann Rowing Club Website

Blackburn Challenge Just 7 Days Away on Saturday, July 14

And Registration ends tonight, Saturday, July 7 at midnight.

So click here to register now!

Click here for a map of the course.  Look familiar? That’s because it’s Cape Ann. All you have to do is get into your watercraft with an oar or paddle at Gloucester High School and paddle over to the Greasy Pole but go the long way around Cape Ann. You’ll have lots of company (304 already signed up) and cold beer and a pulled pork sandwich awaits you at Pavilion Beach.

Cape Ann Rowing Club Website

15 Days Until Blackburn Challenge

This has snuck up on the Rubber Duck so she is doubling her work outs.

And a One and a TWO, OK all done. As always if you are tracking Blackburn, the timer to the starting gun is here. And a map to track Rubber Duck is here.

Rubber Duck promises to have a real time Rubber Duck tracker so you can track her progress around Cape Ann and meet her at the Greasy Pole. She promises to be there before the beer runs out.

Of course, to check out the names of the 224 plus paddlers just go to the Cape Ann Rowing Club website or go to their page here and the link is in the middle of the page.

Registration is still open but do it today or else you might have to settle for just cold beer, the pulled pork and the massage but not get the uber cool T-Shirt. If the Rubber Duck can do it …

2012 Essex River Race Roundup

For race results this link downloads a nice excel spreadsheet.

My race roundup: Nice day, I did not fall in, the beer was cold and the hot dog was tasty. The band did a nice job on some Fleetwood Mac covers a la Stevie Nicks. I finished in 1 hour 18 minutes 37 seconds. John Karoff who won my division finished in 58 minutes 29 seconds. If I had twin 150 Evinrudes maybe I could cut 20 minutes off my time. I happened to be chatting with John as we waited for the start since he had the same boat as me and I mentioned something about wishing I had gone kayaking at least once this spring before today. He said he had gone once, to something on the Charles River, a 19 mile race with many half mile portages. Meaning he had to pick up his boat and run to avoid dams and waterfalls. It was then I knew that although he seemed quite pleasant he was a mad man and was not surprised he took first place.

Other crazy people. Will Rich of Bayview and SUP The Coast fame (as in he paddled standing up all the way from Key West to Maine) finished first on a SUP board. It looks like there is a motor under his board, his time 1 hour, 2 minutes, 32 seconds. Crazy.

A James Tarantino of Gloucester rowed a banks dory to a time of 1 hour 24 minutes 6 seconds. A banks dory is about as opposite as you can get from most craft in this race. No carbon fiber, kevlar, teflon composite. A banks dory is made from large trees and  300 pounds of cod in the stern would not slow them up by much. The cod may add a minute or two to Jimmy T’s time.  That would be a good addition to the race. Then we could have a nice fish chowder at the finish.

OK, so who did the course the fastest? Borys Markin was sitting on something called a HPK single, or High Performance Kayak. These are long, thin, razor blade shaped, space age fiber crafts that I think if I sat in one I would be in the drink within a minute. Borys finished the race course in 42 minutes 41 seconds.  This is one of the reasons why I attend these races. These faster craft start the race after my division. So during the first 30 minutes of the race, packs of fast boats scream by one after another. As they do I try to imitate in some small way the technique they are using to paddle.  But not entirely. If I kept their cadence up I would blow a seal in less than a minute, but still instructive.

On to the Blackburn Challenge, just 55 days to go. Saturday July 14.

I would be negligent if I did not add that the Cape Ann Rowing Club did another amazing job with the Essex River Race. They make it fun for the normal as well as the athletically off their rocker types. Everyone who paddles in either the Essex or the Blackburn have come to expect a smooth race with nary a hitch and CARC keeps pulling it off.

If you go to the Blackburn Challenge website there will be photos posted over the next week or so. I don’t have anymore photos so I will just post a gratuitous photo of Homie biting Rubber Duck’s butt. (Homie doesn’t want her to race anymore.) 

76 Summer Days Until the Big Race

(Sung to the tune of 76 Trombones)
Seventy six summer days until the big parade,
with at least a hundred and ten dory rowers motoring away.
They were followed by rows and rows of the finest kayaks;
the cream of the Cape Ann waterways!

I’ll quit with one verse …

Blackburn Challenge: Saturday July 14.  There will be a kayak pod of “not the extremely swift” led by Wendie Demuth.

Click map for more  links and info.

There is also a short 5 mile race in the Essex River on Saturday, May 19th. Just go to the Cape Ann Rowing Club Web Site and you can sign up for both right now! Go ahead. It’s easy. You are probably an SK-male or SK-female boat length say 18 feet beam 25 inches. They take MasterCard and you get a cool T-Shirt you can wear to the GMG Mug-Ups to prove you did it. (SK means sea kayak which is what you have unless you are the Lance Armstrong of kayakers. Check your kibbles and bits to see if you are male or female.)

Rubber Duck signed up for both! ( I have got to hide the credit card.)

Rubber Duck Kayak Quick Tips: If you are thinking of going out to get in shape the water  temp at AO1 buoy today is 46F:

1) Do not kayak alone. 2) Wear and buckle up a PFD.  3) Dress for the water temp, not the sunny air temp. 4) Stick to the shore like glue. 5) A hand pump, a paddle float, a waterproof handheld radio tuned to VHS 16 are all good things to strap on your boat but only if you know how and when to use them.

100 days until Blackburn Challenge

Yikes, according to my Blackburn Challenge Timer there are only 100 days left to prepare for the paddle all the way around Cape Ann starting at Gloucester High School and ending at the new Greasy Pole July 14, 2012.

 Click map for details.

Who is going to do it? Rubber Duck had fun last year but this year she is going carbon fiber and a decent time. Rumor has it that there are several people who have never done a 21 mile kayak but are seriously thinking about it. Reply to this post and lets get a pod of you together that will aim for one goal, finish before the keg is empty. Next month once the water temp gets past 50F we can start doing a couple of training runs. Who’s in?

[edit] Essex River Race May 19, 2012. A five mile jaunt from the Essex Ship Building Museum out and around Cross Island and back. Any GMGers want to do that? I’ll loan you a kayak. Sign up here with the Cape Ann Rowing Club. Start your season early this year. Life is too short so make the season long.

Only 177 Days to the BlackBurn Challenge

January 18 and how many New Year’s Resolutions have you blown off already? Did you last two weeks on your diet? Have you already bought a pack of Winstons? Now is the time baby, crunch time, when the muffin top takes a beating and you resolve to stick to your resolutions in 2012. Why? So that 177 days from now you can get in a boat and paddle your not so fat butt all the way around Cape Ann.

Click here for a BlackBurn Challenge Timer.  July 14 is just 177 days away. 25 weeks. Plenty of time. Or I can send Homie over to help you focus.

25th Blackburn Challenge; Joey: Send me a photo!

The morning of the Blackburn Challenge and Joey was having a GMG meltdown. Or maybe he was was giving birth to puppies. But we were getting ready to go for a long paddle and Ed and I had not sent him any photos. I was trying to set up my iPhone to send a GPS signal so GMG could track us go around Cape Ann but Joey was sending me a text message every five minutes which would kill the GPS app.

I did get a photo but forgot that it was on HDR setting. I emailed it to Joey and he never received it since it was so large. Today, I finally figured out how to get it yanked from my outbox. Here we are discussing racing strategy. Once Ed realized I had Sue set up to deliver us cold beers as we rounded Andrews Point we were all set.

 Only 290 days left to the 26th Blackburn Challenge.

Morning of Blackburn Challenge Breast Clouds

The morning of the Blackburn Challenge contestants and viewers of the race noticed some pretty weird clouds. Hard to capture in a camera, they looked a little like this photo taken from the wiki page describing mammatus clouds. Terry Weber posted at GMG about these mysterious clouds here.

“Mammatus” from the latin mamma for breast or udders. On race day the clouds were much larger in the breast category with cleavage compressed as small indentions. A cold front comes in, some wind shear occurs, and these large lumpy clouds start dropping from the sky.

Some clouds have a silver lining, on Cape Ann they sometimes appear to be double D cup.

Video- 2011 Blackburn Challenge Filmed By Ed Collard

Ed uses the Kodak zx3 and Kayalu Salt Waterproof Camera Mount to capture the Blackburn Challenge

The Kodak zx-3 and kayalu salt waterproof camera mount performed perfectly, especially when you consider Ed all thumbs and no eyes Collard was the operator.

I would say you have to give Ed some props for improved camerawork. Nice slow steady pans and no ground shots, Ed is definitely improving with his camera work!
we will be bringing you more creative footage with the waterproof camera and mount in the coming weeks.
if anyone is interested in the gear you can buy them on Amazon here

Desi Smith Captures Ed and Paul At the Blackburn Challenge

Hi Joey, please share these photo’s on your blog of Ed and Paul.


Ed gives Paul a push.


Paul and Rubber Duckie prepare for the journey.


Ed battens down the hatches.


Ed gives the thumbs up,saying he’s ready for the challenge.


Ed heads out to meet Paul for their adventure together.


Ed’s Daughter watches as her father and Paul Morrison head out for the Blackburn Challenge.


There’s no turning back now!

all photos and captions Desi Smith

2011 Blackburn Challenge Coverage From GMG- Live Tracking of Ed, Rubber Ducky and Paul Morrison and More!!!


We will be tracking Ed, Rubber Duckie and Paul Morison via satellite.  if you click on the screenshot of the map you will see exactly where they are on the race course as they circumnavigate Cape Ann.

The screenshot below was taken at 6:08 when they boys arrived at the starting line at Gloucester High School.  If you click the picture it will show you a refreshed map of exactly where they are as the day progresses.


Ed Collard talking pretty confidently in his interview here but I think we all know he is secretly hoping for the race to be called early due to heat, LOL! I will say this-
If Ed Collard does indeed complete the Blackburn Challenge after only 5 times being in a Kayak I’ll be convinced he can do anything.

A note to all Blackburn Challenger Competitors and their families-
Swing down the dock after the race to get a free Good Morning Gloucester Sticker and have your picture taken for these pages Representing!

The boys have been averaging 5 mph according to our satellite tracker



8:27AM 5mph


8:42AM 4mph



11:09AM 3mph

11:34 Zero MPH  BEER BREAK?


12:55PM 4MPH Passing Brace Cove


1:07PM 4MPH The Home Stretch Past The Breakwater


1:38PM 4 MPH Inner Harbor heading For The Greasy Pole!!!!


Finishing Strong 5MPH To Pavillion Beach THEY DID IT!!!!!!!!!!


Blackburn Finishers – Our Heroes

Paul Morrison, Ed Collard and R. Duck all finished in record time – the same day.

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