Kayaking breakdown: Tips for the race, viewing advice

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

Heather Nelson of Kulshan Cycles paddles her way across Bellingham Bay during the final leg of 2013 Ski to Sea Race.

NICK GONZALES — Nick Gonzales

THE COURSE

Year leg added to the race: 1990 (first added as an option to sailing for two years before it became the only option until 2005, when outrigger canoe was added).

Where: Bellingham Bay from Squalicum Harbor to Marine Park.

Course length: About five miles.

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

Course description: On a normal race day, the finish line is only a zigzag across Bellingham Bay, but afternoon winds may force the race committee to shorten or cancel the leg for safety reasons. The course is set 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 co-race chairs: Penny and Mac Carter.

Bellingham Bay conditions chair: Larry Bussinger.

Finish line co-chairs: Keegan Kenfield and Carol Brumet.

Pre-race meeting: Noon at Zuanich Point 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 to replace it.

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 24, 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.

2013 TOP FINISHERS

Men: Sean Rice (Team Aeromech) 35:57

Women: Tracy Landboe (Boundary Bay Women's Team) 43:03

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