How it works: Real test of kayak leg depends on which way the wind blows

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 1, 2012 

THE COURSE

Where: Bellingham Bay from Squalicum Harbor to Marine Park.

Course length: Approximately five miles.

Approximate time to complete: 40 minutes for top finishers, around an hour for everybody else.

Quick description: On a normal race day, the finish line is only a zigzag across Bellingham Bay away, but afternoon winds three years ago forced the race committee to shorten the course for safety reasons. The course is set up to go from Squalicum Harbor to the Outfall Buoy, then back to Marker 1 at the log boom. It then heads southwest close to Boulevard Park around three other markers, before competitors beach their kayaks at Marine Park, run up the beach and ring the bell.

Sea kayak race chair: Mac Carter.

Bellingham Bay conditions chair: Larry Bussinger.

Finish line chair: Teresa Flinn.

Pre-race meeting: Noon at Zuanich Park.

Timing chip: The kayaker will receive the chip from the mountain biker, swipe the chip to record the finish time of the mountain biking leg, kayak across Bellingham Bay, swipe the chip to record the finish time for the kayak leg and ring the bell. The kayaker is responsible for swiping the chip twice (once at the start and once at the finish of the leg). The kayaker should also return the timing chip to a Ski to Sea volunteer at the finish line. Failure to return the chip will result in the team being charged $95 to replace the timing chip.

NEW THIS YEAR

Marine Park beer garden: Talk about extra motivation to finish the race. Teams won't even have to make their way out of Marine Park to hit the beer garden , because there will be one at the finish line. Is there a better way to cap off the day than to sit back with a brew and watch other teams make their way across Bellingham Bay on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon?

SOURCE: SKI TO SEA

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

The race may be seen from Zuanich Point Park, the Bellwether development, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Boulevard Park or Marine Park. To avoid the parking crunch around Fairhaven, arrive early or ride a bike. Ski to Sea is offering a shuttle bus from Zuanich Point Park to Fairhaven with a stop at Boundary Bay Brewery. Organizers suggest taking advantage of ample free downtown parking.

Best place to watch the leg: Is there a better place than near the finish line in Fairhaven? Watch competitors finish and reunite with their teams and take in the awards celebration before heading to the beer garden.

TIPS FOR THE RACE

• Racers can take kayaks to the park on Saturday, May 29, and Boy Scouts will watch them overnight.

• By this time of day you won't be dealing with changing weather, so clothing choices should be easier. Remember it is likely to be breezy on Bellingham Bay, and there could be splashes from waves.

• Any water that kayakers bring should be easy to access without using your hands; CamelBaks, or something similar, would be ideal.

• Coast Guard-approved life jackets must be worn at all times during the leg.

TOP GUNS

Male winners

2008: Dion Maxwell (Callen Construction Elite Equipment) 27:00*

2009: Eric Moll (Boss Construction 4 Western Football) 38:57

2010: Brandon Nelson (Beavers Tree Service) 43:03

2011: Zsolt Szadovszki (Barron Heating) 43:25

Female winners

2008: Heather Nelson (Kulshan Cycles) 31:29*

2009: Heather Nelson (Kulshan Cycles) 44:03

2010: Heather Nelson (Kulshan Cycles) 47:57

2011: Tracy Landboe (Boundary Bay Brewery) 52:36

* Course in 2008 had to be changed on race day because of unsafe conditions on the bay.

Reach KIE RELYEA atkie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2234.

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