Thursday, August 14, 2014
Yesterday my lovely wife and I watched a little film on Youtube, The Challenge. It's about the 2013 Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile expedition race for small boats. Boats have to be launched by their crews from the beach. No motors are allowed, only sail and human power.
I've been following the race for years. In our travels with our Oday 19, my lovely wife and I just happened to sail about 80% of the course. Coincidence? Not really. I was curious about what the course looked like. Many people can sail or paddle 300 miles. Doing it with a time limit is where the challenge is. My wife and I took our time, only sailed during daylight hours, and sat out some nasty weather. The trip took about 3 weeks, instead of the 8 days allowed for the race.
Regular readers of my blog know I'm building a small sailboat, an Ooze Goose. It's no coincidence that it's small enough for me to drag off a beach. The design has been altered with the Challenge in mind. It's of heavier construction, has a bigger cabin, and a better rowing seat. Having sailed the waters, I think it'll do the job -if I pick my route wisely and keep an eye on the weather.
While not the fastest design, it does have some advantages. A big one is the fact it has a cabin large enough to sleep in. Being able to quickly get warm, dry, and out of the bugs is a huge advantage over trying to sleep in a cold wet tent. The boat could be quickly pulled up on a beach, tied up in the mangroves, or even anchored out. This race is not a sprint. Being able to get some decent sleep makes a big difference in the long run.
Now all I've got to do is finish the boat, practice sailing, pay the registration, and get down to Florida for the first Saturday in March. It's all doable. One of the considerations is the cost. There's a $395 registration fee, and some pricey mandatory equipment. No, I'm going to beg for money. Really. There are more worthy causes than some middle aged guy going out to have fun. If for some reason I can't swing it this March, there's always the next.
I've decided to attempt the race. That focuses the mind. Now I'm in training. Many years ago my dad and I used to race canoes as a father and son team. Dad had an interesting training system. At the time our competition swore by certain exercises and running to build stamina. Dad and I just went paddling an awful lot. When the race would start my instructions were to paddle as hard as I could the whole way. It wasn't a sophisticated strategy, but we won a lot of races. My plan is to do a lot of sailing and rowing to get ready. Taking off a few pound wouldn't hurt either.
After last winter's sail down the Florida coast I tried to convince myself that I was satisfied and didn't need to race the Challenge. As you can see, that hasn't worked.