Updated: Oct 18, 2019
It has been a week since the Regatta, and only now do things feel like they are finally coming back to earth. What a great weekend of racing and events!
On Friday, Hayden Lefever and I successfully defended our U14 Generation Gap title for the 3rd consecutive year. She is quite the competitor, and I was super pumped that she gave me another shot. Look out for her kicking ass in the big event in couple years.
Saturday saw the Scout and Youth races, and Regatta Hall of Fame inductee ceremony. This year the honors were given to to Ken Gerg of Emporium, PA, Dick McCauley of Sidney, NY, Rick Olson of Mohawk, NY, Bob Wisse of Oneonta, NY , Craig Stevens of Sidney, NY and Jean Davies of Afton, NY & Donna King of Sidney, NY. Congratulations to all! Sunday is all about the relay race, and 18 mile c1 race and sprint races. The weather was great all weekend, warm, sunny, but with a burst of rain to keep the river at a stable level.
Monday morning dawned cool and clear with a little fog blowing off Otsego lake. There were 85 boats lining up for the 7:30 pro/am start, which happened quickly and cleanly immediately following the American and Canadian national anthems. The run in off the lake was clean. At just under 2 miles, it went by quickly. The pace wound up as Trevor and I, Guillaume and Sam, and Steve amd Jimmy jockeyed for position entering the channel. We were 3rd at the portage, a few waves back and a few ahead of the 4th place boat. The pace for the first hour was fast, with rapid changes in pace and the lead position exchanged a few times by the two Canadian teams. Trevor and I maintained our 3rd place, never letting the leaders build up more than a few second lead. The pace was hard, but we survived the swamp relatively unscathed, and as we approached the flats above Milford the pace dropped considerably as we began to eye each other and refuel.
The first pit of the day at Milford was clean, Trevor's brother Todd and Brooks Reed passed off our jugs and food without incident. For the next 30 minutes the pace stayed slow, no one was willing to do the work and burn energy in the deep water where dropping anyone would be difficult. Before long 4 teams consisting of Serge Corbin and Norman Mainguy, Shane MacDowell and Graham Smith, Mike Davis and Kyle Stonehouse, Wes Dean and Logan Mynar joined to make it a pack of 7 drafting and cruising the corners to Portlandville and upper Goodyear lake. We took another pit above Portlandville, but unfortunately my drink syphoned and I was left dry, wondering where I would get another jug. At kickass corner the pace increased as expected as the river shallows out and widens, presenting an opportunity to string out the pack and put teams into difficulty before crossing lake and through the suck water above the dam. Position is very important, as being behind and having to climb back to the front burns precious energy before the race explodes again in the technical, fast and shallow water below the dam.
Going under Portlandville bridge, we deftly moved from the back of the pack up the left side to the front, jumping on Steve's/Jimmy's side wave around the corner and landing perfectly positioned for the last push before Goodyear portage. Passing Ed Curley's camp, I noticed he was watching the race from the dock, and I yelled over that I needed a jug, hoping he would relay the message to our pit crew. The pace was good enough to keep it to the two Canadians and us side by side, with Serge and Shane close by. Sam/Guillaume were first out of the boat and over the portage, Trevor and I 2nd, and Steve/Jimmy hot on our heels. We all hit the water on the other side and took off sprinting, the gloves were off and guns blazing. Todd somehow made it from a boat pit at Portlandville to the bottom of the dam, a short 20 minutes later, with a jug. With Sam in the lead, we all made it through the Goodyear cut without trouble. Steve made the pass a few corners later to move up into 2nd position. At this point Trevor and I started struggling in the shallow water, relative to our lighter and zippier competition. The Canadians worked up a small lead, gaining a few seconds each shallow bar we had to attack and jump over. By Emmons, the halfway point in the race, the water deepened out and we were able to climb back up. Our fortunes were short lived however, again Steve/Jim picked it back up in the shallows above Southside dam and distanced us. Sam/Guillaume stayed glued to their wave, riding into the portage. Here they had a bad time exiting the boat and getting back in on the downstream side, allowing Steve/Jimmy a gap, which they took advantage of and did not look back.
The pain was real. After Goodyear, the suck water is unrelenting for miles, and does not let up until the river deepens out at Otego town barn, and Wells Bridge. We put our heads down and embraced the suck, chasing hard. The race strung out, with Steve/Jimmy gradually grinding out a bigger and bigger lead. Trevor and I did our best to hold the pace, and eventually below 205 bridge Sam/Guillaume started coming back. Joining forces, we worked to limit our losses. We burnt a lot of energy fighting through the shallows, and despite our best efforts, their lead increased to 2 minutes by Wells Bridge.
Refueling is key to a good race, and above Wells Bridge it is very import to eat and drink as much as possible to replenish the energy stores in preparation for the final 2 hour push to Bainbridge. Those two hours can be mentally broken down into three sections, Wells Bridge to Unadilla, Unadilla to Sidney, and Sidney to the finish. The suck water is unrelenting, and there isn't any good way to approach it except to keep eating and drinking, and to keep the boat gliding as much as possible. If you can be strong through this section of the race, you can put minutes on the competition. To top it off, it is usually hot and muggy, a mentally defeating end to a already hard race. From Wells Bridge on, nothing really changed, Steve/Jimmy had the race under control as the lead never shrank to less than 1.5 minutes. However, we took turns pulling, grinding out the miles hoping for a break. At the finish, Trevor and I won a frantic sprint for 2nd place, beating out Sam and Guillaume by a mere second. Another podium finish in the books! In the 4 years we have raced together, we have accumulated two 2nd place and two 3rd place finishes. See you in Michigan!
A major thanks to all those who support us on our mission to bring the championship back to the Susquehanna valley. You all know who you are.
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