March 28, 2010: Catalina Challenge

From Team Starboard

Wow!!!! What an awesome weekend we had! This past Sunday, March 28, 2010, EJ and I competed in the Catalina Challenge, a 40 mile channel crossing from Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island to Dana Point Harbor, home to our very own EJ and Andie Johnson. This year we were seriously blessed by beautiful conditions. Honestly, it never gets that smooth for that long in the channel. The race started out at 8 a.m. with glassy conditions, sunshine, and warm weather. We never expected it to last for almost the entire duration of the race.

EJ and I went in with the goal of winning the 12’6″ division. If I’m telling the truth, I wasn’t ever worried about winning the 12’6″ division, I was more concerned with beating the 14’s.  Well, I will admit, that turned out to be a little bit of an arrogant assumption. EJ paddled the beginning leg of 30 minutes where where we found ourselves neck and neck with a 4man 14ft team and just ahead of another 2man 12’6″ team and 4man 12’6″ team. I will also mention that we were just behind a 3man 14ft. team who managed to gap us throughout the race, after a few hours I realized the goal of beating the 14’s wasn’t gonna happen for us. For the first 4-5 hours we paddled with the 4man 12’6″ and 14′ teams on our TAILS, big time! I was pretty concerned they might catch us. At one point they were so close I could hear them hooting at their paddlers to catch us. I just put my head down and went harder, as did EJ. Then…the transition came, about 8 miles from shore, the swell started to pick up, and we actually had some push, not totally at the right angle, but definitely gave us some push. EJ really takes max advantage of any kind of bump with his aggressive paddling style, and the NEW board is perfect for those conditions. So with about 8 miles left we started to gap the two teams who had been on our heals, and with about 4 miles left the winds started picking up, giving us more of an advantage as board features and riders abilities became more of an influential factor. Well, at the end of the day, we did it. EJ and I finished first in the 12’6′ division as a coed two-person team in      7 hours and 6 minutes, about 10 minutes ahead of our closest competion. We pretty much rocked! It was good and felt great!!! SUPER stoked! Here are some pics, and coming soon a short video of the crossing!

Ciao for now,

Brandi  Baksic


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