Year leg added to the race: 1990 (leg 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.
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Approximate time to complete: 40 minutes for top finishers, about 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 might 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 and run up the beach.
Sea kayak co-race chairs: Penny and Mac Carter.
Bellingham Bay conditions chair: Larry Bussinger.
Pre-race meeting: 11:30 a.m. at Zuanich Point Park.
Timing chip: The kayaker will receive the chip from the cross-country biker, swipe the chip to record the finish time of the mountain biking leg, kayak across Bellingham Bay and hand off to the mountain biker, who will swipe the chip to complete the kayaking leg.
2014 top finishers
Men: Kenny Rice (Team Aeromech) 38:28
Women: Heather Nelson (Kulshan Cycles) 43:05
WHAT’S NEW IN 2015
Not last anymore: For the first time since its inception, the kayaking leg will not be the last leg of the race. The cancellation of the skiing legs forced the addition of the mountain biking leg.
Winds of change: With the leg earlier in the progression and an earlier start to the race, all kayaks are expected to be on Bellingham Bay by 3:30 p.m. and off by 5 p.m., reducing the impact of any late-afternoon winds.
The race can be seen from Zuanich Point Park, the Bellwether development, Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Boulevard Park or Marine Park. To avoid the parking crunch around Fairhaven, arrive early or ride a bike. Whatcom Transportation Authority will offer service from Western Washington University and downtown on race day. Route 14 will run every 15-30 minutes from WWU to Fairhaven from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (last bus leaves Fairhaven at 6:44 p.m.), with parking in C lot by the Wade King Student Recreation Center. Route 401 leaves the downtown station and runs along State Street to Fairhaven every 15-30 minutes from 7:40 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. (last bus leaves Fairhaven at 7:55 p.m.). The cost is $1 and all WTA passes will be accepted. Details: ridewta.com, 360-676-RIDE (7433).
Suggested departure time: 11 a.m.
Best place to watch the leg: Is there a better place than Fairhaven? This year, spectators will get to watch two legs, as the mountain biking leg will finish just outside the entrance to Marine Park. 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 23, 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 could be breezy, 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.