Salish Sea entered a double and single into the race around Cormorant Island in the Alert Bay 360 race. Oh, and 90 other kayaks, surf skis, canoes, OC1 and even a pontoon-catamaran- peddley -craft-thingy raced as well.
On the days leading up to race day, paddlers and rowers alike paced the shore, cursing the 35 kts winds (gusting to 45) and 6 kt currents that were threatening the race. Never have so many paddlers demanded, pleaded and prayed to the weather gods ” stop the wind, stop the wind, just for a little while. I promise to be good”. After three days of high winds, we were desperate. Race day dawned with manageable 15kt winds, a strong current and a flood tide. Over 90 boats launched into the headwind and the race was on.
59 minutes later the fastest boat (a racing K2) crossed the line, followed quickly by surf skis, outriggers, kayaks and rowing shells. (pontoon-catamaran- peddley -craft-thingy came in at approx 2hrs.)
The head current was strong, giving an advantage to our Salish Sea rowers as they powered past anything driven by arm strength. Legs always win. Then it was 2km of broadside winds and 2 ft chop, pushing small boats into the kelp beds and rocks. No advantage there. Then for one long 5 km stretch it was surf ski heaven. Picking through the currents and eddies to find the fastest run, these greyhounds of the waves owned the beach. And the it was the rowers turn. We started to pass groups of boats,finding our zen speed on the north stretch of the race. One thing rowers know how to do is race a long straight stretch of water, we live for it. Rounding the final point for home, the hard work started. Legs against a 6kt current means you can’t let off even for a second. (Feels like an erg on setting 10). And the headwind joins in to bring out your stubborn. The shores were lined with folks cheering us on, banging drums and bells. Wonderful to have the community of Alert Bay urging us on.
After the race, the showers and prizes it was time for a celebration at the Big House.
An evening of song, dance and food hosted by the T’sasa’la Cultural Group brought home to us all how important it is that we stay connected with our ocean through our sport and through our behaviour.
Alert Bay with its clear clear waters, abundant marine life and skies filled with Eagles is a potent reminder of how precious our planet is. Gilakas’la Alert, thank you for hosting us and for reconnecting us. We are Salish Sea.