Saturday, September 6. At last, the moment we’ve all been training for: the Lighthouse to Lighthouse Race! Or more specifically, “Seven or 14 miles of open water racing for any seaworthy, human-powered craft along the scenic Norwalk Islands on the Connecticut shore.” (Not that anyone’s taking time to enjoy the scenery.)
To get an idea of what it’s like, watch this professional video of last year’s race, below. It’s heavy on the surfskis—therefore, exciting. Keep an eye open for the occasional startled-looking sea kayaker. (Andrew, isn’t that you at 8:19??!)
Fun, huh? This year, sea kayaker Alex embarked on the 14-mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse course, as did David and Felix (in tandems, as part of Achilles International teams). Jean and pals Bea, Luke, Erin, Jorge, Elly, and Nick chose the Lighthouse to Big Orange Buoy Floating Just Off Copps Rock Race (the sane 7-mile course). We all did the part not mentioned but assumed: “And Back Again.”
7:30 a.m. Calf Pasture Beach Unloading our yaks, we got an education in “seaworthy human-powered craft.” What IS that thing?!
Once again this year, the L2L hosted the East Coast Surfski Championships. The floating “balance beams” were everywhere!
To be honest, the weather forecast wasn’t looking so great… A good chance of thunderstorms kept everyone looking skyward. Eventually, a window opened—”god rays” and all! We settled for 90 degrees F, winds 10-15 knots WSW.
At 8:30 sharp, the mandatory captain’s meeting. This is where they tell you to wear your pfd (knew that) and which way to paddle around the course (um, right at Pecks Ledge lighthouse but, wait, what?).
Nothing left to do now but eat our paleo Hammer bars (or raisins, if you’re Alex), guzzle water, and hope that the number you’re duct-taping onto your boat is a lucky magical one.
And… they’re off! We don’t have photos of the actual race, naturally. But here, Jean tries to describe it: Paddle, paddle, paddle, dip baseball cap in water and slap it back on your boiling hot head; swell, swell, swell, WHOOOAA! BIG swell, near-collision with SUP whoopsidaisy! sorry, guy!, paddle fast, paddle faster, paddle faster, DRINK, what are the signs of hyperthermia again?, paddle, Serena-Williams-oof-oof, beer right, shower left, beer right, shower left, cooolld beeeeer!!!
Photos upon our return: Welcoming Committee (aka, scorekeepers); a contender, totally plotzed; Alex returns from his 14-mile trip; a very welcome massage (thanks, volunteer masseuses!); and hurray, cold beer!
The outcomes? Drumroll, please… hardware galore!
Left to right: Nick, Jean, David, Elly and Jorge. Jean won gold in the Sea Kayak Single/Women’s 7-Mile; Bea took silver in the same, and Elly earned bronze. Nick won silver in Men’s Single Sea Kayak 7-Mile, while Jorge won bronze; David and teammate Dennis earned gold in the Achilles Team 14-mile race; and Felix and teammate Cesar won silver. Luke, Erin and Alex won admiration for placing very respectably on this unexpectedly hot, humid, sun-scorching morning. And we all won a place at the tables—picnic and massage. (Yes, the L2L has the best beach party!) Can’t wait til next year.
Mazal TOV on the gold
Thanks, J! When do you go to Maine?
Congratulations, Jean and Alex!! Great photos, too. Looks in every respect like a smaller version of the Blackburn Challenge. We might have to do it next year…. and of course you have to do the Blackburn! 🙂
Thanks, Vlad!! We can’t take credit for every photo… the one of Jean paddling and the last (tabletop shot of medals) belong to Dan Marino, pro photographer for the occasion. Let’s do the Blackburn next year, AND the L2L! Jean is practicing with her new wing paddle 😉 Um, how’s the Blackburn party? We have our priorities, you know.
🙂 The Blackburn party is pretty good! Actually, I meant it when I said the two look very similar. So for the Blackburn, think L2L, just scaled up. Larger variety of boats, more people, but very similar flavor to the whole thing…
…and Great White sharks, right?! That’ll make us paddle faster!
Congratulations! looks amazing! (I like the photo of the paddler half in/half out of the water–supine!)
Thanks 🙂 I think he was cooked—it was REALLY warm!