This year I finally got off my ass and got myself a passport, which could mean one thing-I was doing the Dash. A 6 mile race through beautiful,somewhat cold and slightly swirly waters of the Deception Pass on Sunday,December 4th.
My experience with racing to date involved 3 Bowen races and somewhat irregular participation in the Deep Cove Tuesday Night Races,so my expectations from the event were more or less : " sign name,get number, chat with other racers, get a quick standing briefing,wait for final horn blast,race". The event that was the Deception Pass Dash by far surpassed that. We arrived at Bowman Bay on Saturday afternoon. At the gas station nearby I started talking to another guy in a truck with 2 kayaks on the roof, who turned out to be Bill, the main organizer of the event. Very friendly and approachable guy, sorted out a couple questions I had about the race and the park permits.
On arrival, signed in the name and got a number and went to look around and chat with other racers. Met and was warmly greeted by Setsuko and saw a few other familiar faces.
The boats were also different than what you see here usually. The boats in Sea Kayak category were mostly brit-style skeg boats(most commonly NDK Explorer),so I didn't feel out of place in my Sirocco. Boats were mostly left at Bowman Bay under supervision of a few people that stayed and camped the night there to keep them safe.
The most unusual craft was definitely the homebuilt stitch and glue pedal-powered,prop driven trimaran,which went like stink powered by it's creator. There was also a weird aluminum-frame SOF double,which was aparently a soviet-era folding frame with a nylon skin done somewhat recently, in the list of competitors the boat was listed as "Comrade Lenin". Also done very well in the race. And there was a guy in the little purple Mariner Coaster who made very impressive time as well,especially considering the length of the boat.
One of the experienced racers led a group,us included, on a guided tour of the race course by foot, to the passes and explained a few things about the local currents which was quite helpful.
On Saturday night there was a social dinner and raffle that added a lot to the warm and friendly feeling of the whole event.
Me and Caitlin camped the night at Deception Pass park,while a large portion of participants stayed at the bunkhouse/cabins.
Sunday morning we drove back to Bowman Bay on a beautiful but chilly morning, to find the boats nicely iced up. I was glad that I taped the number on the day before.
The race start: 10:27, timed just so you have 15 mins or so before tide turns and starts pushing against you,as you come into the Deception pass,on the way to Strawberry island,and then current is with you on the way back.
The final horn blew. As expected, the majority of surf skis and outriggers have left majority of the sea kayaks behind. I felt goofy for the first time racing a skeg boat,but eventually fell into my pace by the time we reached Deception island. Hugged the eddy under the bridge very closely,inside the kelp line, which seemed to have worked. For the "crux move", I followed a lay-down paddleboarder and pulled out of the eddy about as late as possible, trying to get into the eddy of Strawberry Island.
The strategy plays a role in the section between the bridge and the turnaround at the end of Strawberry.
Following the race was a chance to demo some boats from Valley Kayaks and few other vendors,including Body Boat Blade, It was really cool to meet Leon and Shawna in person,after seeing them in the This Is the Sea videos time and time again.
And then lunch,which was delicious especially after the race.
At the end, I placed 18th out of 45 in my Sea Kayak class.
It was a great time had by all, before the race,during and after. I highly recommend the event
I attached some photos taken by Caitlin, and here is links to photos of other photographers :https://picasaweb.google.com/ASeanWatso ... ssDash2011http://www.garyluhm.net/lightroomwebstu ... _fourstar/http://robcasey.photoshelter.com/galler ... 5QlwARnivM