Last summer's race series was a huge success and probably the most fun I had all year. I met some great new paddlers, became close friends with a few I already new, and overall just had a ball paddling hard and laughing almost all the way.
This coming summer, we are making some significant changes to the race series, with a primary goal of making the event more accessible to beginner paddlers while maintaining and building on the competitive nature of the race at the same time.
That sounds like we are making it both easier AND harder…which we are! The biggest change is we will no longer be basing grand prize eligibility on the fastest time, but on participation instead. Every time you race and complete the course, you will receive a token. At the end of the summer, after our final race, we will have a party and the winner will be randomly drawn from a bag containing all the tokens earned throughout the summer. So even if you came in last every time you raced, so long as you finished each race, you would have up to 15 tokens in the bag and would have the greatest chance to win the 1st place prize: a brand new race board from one of our leading manufacturers!!
By taking away the time trial aspect of the race, we can do a couple things we haven't been able to do in the past. 1st, we can change the course each week. Thats a huge change, and should make it more exciting as you won't know exactly what the course will be on any given Saturday until we get to the beach and decide. We may even leave the final decision up to a vote just prior to launch.
Obviously, if we are doing different courses each week, they will be different lengths too. So to take advantage of that, we will be breaking the races into 3 basic categories. The 1st race of the season will be an "A" race. This race will be shorter than last year's course, maybe 2.5 miles, and for the 1st couple runs at least, will stay in more sheltered waters. The 2nd week will be a "B" race, which should be comparable to our Cushings Island course; about 4 miles, or an hour long paddle. Then the 3rd week, we are running a "C" race, which will be a little more ambitious than what we have tackled in the past, stretching to 6 miles or so. You can think of them as beginner, intermediate and expert. But you could also view them as sprint vs distance, with the "B" race somewhere in between. It might be fun to all get together at a local restaurant (Elsmere?) after each C race to refresh some of those calories we'll be burning.
We will switch each week, rotating between A, B and C races through the summer. By the end of the season, we will have 5 races in each category. The idea is that people new to racing, or without enough open water experience to feel totally comfortable with a Cushings run will be able to enter on an "A" race week, and get a feel for the pacing. Or if someone wants to bring a friend to the race and just take it easy, then the more casual length will be ideal.
But don't worry, we will still be keeping times! After all, these are races, and we want a winner every week, not just at the end of the summer. We will keep track of your times and will recognize and award winners in women's and men's 12-6 and 14 at the end of year party. From what I've seen, most everyone does the race for fun, not for the prize at the end of the year anyways. The bonus is that when we get to that last race, the folks who showed up the most have the greatest chance to win the most!
We will continue to run the races on Saturday afternoon's at 4:30 as that is the best time for the greatest number of people, and work's the best with the shop schedule. However, if we know ahead of time that a particular Saturday afternoon is going to be bad weather or conditions, we will likely be able to move the race to a Sunday morning here and there.
Anyways, we are still in the planning stages for this race series, so if you have any suggestions or concerns, be sure to get in touch and let me know what you think.
updated 04/28/2017 8:04pm
6.2 ft @ 11 sec from SE
W (Cross Shore) @ 2 mph
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382 Cottage Rd.
South Portland, ME 04106