Preliminary results posted on this page. It was a perfect day. Nice high tide in the Annisquam, flat water most of the way around, lovely breeze, choppiest water was the last two miles in Gloucester Harbor.
So Russ Cone and Tom Bohrer go around Cape Ann in a sliding seat double in 2 hours 26 minutes. Are you serious? 9 mph or around 7.8 knots! The harbormaster will give you a ticket in the “No Wake” zone going that fast. How is that possible to do for a hundred yards much less over 20 miles of bumpy water? It is possible because a majority of the contestants in the Blackburn seem to be only made out of leather and sinew and have likely run an Ironman triathlon in the past week. Conversations at the high school before we take off, “I only drink coconut milk and free range basil the day before so my potassium levels are high and I don’t get twitchy.” Well shit I wish someone had told me that before I had three martinis and pork ribs the night before because I sure got twitchy out there.
For the rest, you should really click on the Blackburn Challenge 2016 Results. Each posted time is a story. The SUP stand up paddles mostly made it under 5 hours. That is amazing. I always find the most amazing are the dories and work boats posting faster times than me. Rubber Duck is in a 30 pound kayak and they are in a quarter ton or much more boat. You could pile ten lobster traps in the stern and they might add a few seconds to their time.
So how did the Rubber Duck do? I finished. 5:22:07. My goal is to break 5 hours but I blew a seal at Lanes Cove. Maybe three seals. They jumped in my boat and wanted to party. No wait, wrong type of seal. I whip down the Annisquam and actually still see the leaders of SK kayaks at the river mouth. Which means I am going too fast and not pacing myself. And sure enough one elbow and one leg get a case of the twitchies and I have to take my feet off the pegs and straight arm paddle for 30 minutes while I dream of coconut milk. Sandy Bay is a stretched out nightmare that never ends and by Milk Island I am in survival mode. Just finish. By Good Harbor Beach I want to paddle in and throw myself onto the shore but I would scare the kids and the piping Plovers would run away. Being a local I know exactly where Brace Rock is and how long the Dogbar Breakwater is (over two thousand gruesome feet!) and Gloucester Harbor measures exactly two miles and every whale watch boat wants to kill me. I swear one missed me then backed up to try to finish me off, OK the mind goes after 5 hours of paddling.
Greasy pole, time is recorded, flip boat to lay in water for ten minutes then on up to pour two pints of cold Ipswich Summer Ale down my throat. That wasn’t so bad. Let’s do it again!
Lessons learned: Everyone else has a winged paddle in my group. They giggle at my Werner Cypress paddle. Who knew? Not me. Getting one of those. Coconut milk and basil. Yup, potassium next year I’ll have a case, no martinis for 24 hours. 2017 I break 5 hours. Nothing damaged, feel great, time for a nap, this typing is making my poor pruney fingers tired.
Rubber Duck: “You can’t paddle any faster?” Pikachu: “Will there be any beer left?”
And last but not least, The Cape Ann Rowing Club pulls off another flawless race. An all volunteer army gets 300 contestants into the water with humor, keeps an eye on them for 20 miles with the safety boats all the way to the finish line and beyond including picking up the errant pulled pork plate on Pavilion Beach.