Windy and choppy conditions on Bellingham Bay Sunday, May 27, forced Ski to Sea Race organizers to shorten the kayak leg to a little over three miles, instead of the usual five miles.
Kayak leg co-chairman Mac Carter noted the conditions were worse at noon Sunday than they were on race day last year, when organizers cut the race off for safety reasons. About half the kayakers didnt get to compete last year because of the conditions.
Before the first kayakers started this year, organizers announced the course change. Instead of going around buoys out in the bay, kayakers would turn inland and hug the shoreline along Boulevard Park on their way to the finish line at Marine Park.
Organizers also sent a lot of kayakers out onto the course before their mountain bikers arrived at the handoff spot. The goal was to get as many kayakers going before afternoon conditions possibly worsened. To keep times, the kayak leg would be added to the other leg times to determine a teams overall time.
More than 300 of the 500 kayaks had gotten onto the course as of 3:45 p.m, ahead of last years race number. They were being released in groups, to avoid too many entering the bay at the same time.
While some had capsized in the chop, most kayakers were making it to Marine Park. No injuries had been reported.
Carter was optimistic that every kayaker who wanted to compete in the leg would be able to launch. The goal was to get everyone on the water by 5 p.m.