Sunday, January 18, 2009

Humbled by much aloha

The phone rang on Tuesday. I was taking a break from the ski hill on a gorgeous day. On the other end was two-time Olympian Jordan Malloch spreading the word about the PNWORCA winter outrigger race series.
"Bill, you coming out for the race this Saturday at Gas Works?"
"Jordan, I'm a kayaker, not an outrigger man... and I haven't hardly paddled all winter. I'm really out of shape."
"Awwww man, come on! They'll let you race. You should come down."

A phone call to Don Kiesling confirmed the excitement, so I geared up if only to watch Don paddle 6 miles with his bare hands and hope I can beat him in my kayak.

So no s^&*, there I was...
There's something incongruous about a few dozen outrigger paddlers dressed in fleece and Goretex, huddled around a fire. And even more mismatched was my little Fathom LV at 15 feet, next to those 20+ -foot OCs and surfskis. But the aloha was warm and the host club, HUI WA'A O WAKINIKONA was happy to see everyone come out. This was the first in a 7-race series around Puget Sound that concludes in April at Sail Sand Point Outrigger on Lake Washington.

I chased Steve Bennett all the way down the course, but never caught him... he was paddling so easily and I was thrashing along. Must be his 40 years of racing. Or his wing paddle. Or the extra 2 feet of waterline in his boat. Or my forward stroke sucks. Hmmmmmm.

Bernie Swanson showed up and snapped the pics you see here. Thanks Bernie! I think he deleted the one of my final 100 yards "what is that Bill, a low brace?" total fatigue stroke. Either that or he's saving it for blackmail.

I was slow enough that Jordan was already dressed and toasty warm when I got off the water to pose with him... but glory be, I managed to stay ahead of Don... paddling with his hands.

Here is Don, duking it out on the paddleboard in the home stretch. What a workout!

Much mahalo to Wakinikona. Good times, great people, warm fire and excellent post-race pupus! The soup really hit the spot.

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