Inside Scoop: Island To Island Waterman Relay


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Story by Maggie Adams
If you had asked me two years ago, would I do a 28 nautical mile relay race across the California Channel Islands from Santa Barbara Island to Two Harbors Island Isthmus, Catalina, CA? I would have said, “no way, you are crazy!

I started standup paddleboarding about 2yrs. ago, but got more serious & passionate about the sport this last year. So I’m fairly new to the whole SUP community. I obtained a SUP Level 2 certification in March 2014 with the American Canoe Association (ACA).

I started my business, Blue Paddle SUP in May 2014. I enjoy many aspects of SUP from instructing beginner and intermediate paddlers to SUP Fitness training, and SUP Racing. Stand up Paddle boarding has also allowed me opportunities to give back & volunteer at paddle events, and raise money for various charities. Island to Island Waterman Relay is one of those charities!

On Oct 11th I participated in the Island-to-Island Waterman Relay Race. Giles Finlayson organizes the race annually. Along with the help of Pam Strom, and sponsors Surfride, Westwind Productions, Stay Covered, Wyland, Made to Move Physical Therapy, Are You Inspired Yet, HapiFish, Paddle Planet, & Starboard.

All proceeds from the race go to City of Hope and San Diego Cancer Research Institute. I believe this year Giles Finlayson raised close to $25,000 for cancer research! Island-to-Island is a 28 nautical mile relay race for prone, OC-1, surf ski, & stand up paddleboard.

The race begins on the water at Santa Barbara Island and finishes at Two Harbors Isthmus on Catalina Island.

Depending on your vessel and paddler, time to finish the race varied from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours and 30 minutes. Island-to-Island is the opportunity to join other paddlers for a channel crossing in California while raising money for cancer.

The race this year did not provide us with very much wind, so we had do a little more paddling to get to the finish!

During a race like this, you have to be flexible. For example, we were supposed to be the 2nd all women’s team doing the relay this year, but things got changed around at the last minute. One of the teams needed a 3rd paddler.

It just so happen that my fellow teammate, Claudette Baker had brought her son, Stephen Baker along for the experience. Stephen is only 13 yrs. old, and has only been paddling for about 6 months.

He competed in the Battle of the Paddle this year, and trains weekly with The Paddle Academy in Dana Point. We now became known as team Two Moms & The Dude. I was so proud of our team, and our encouragement we provided each other along the way.

We had all paddled in the ocean & entered sup races, but this was a new experience. One I don’t think any of us will forget! A week and a half before the race I received a call from our boat escort. Our skipper informed me that his boat was not going to be ready for the race due to mechanical problems.

We managed to secure another boat escort 5 days before the race. Our boat captain Stacy Sinclair & crew took very good care of us. We arrived at Santa Barbara Island Friday night Oct.10, 2014 on Rhiannon, a 44ft. Kelly Peterson cutter rig sailboat. The race started the next morning at 9:30. I drew the lucky straw & would be at the start with Jaime Mitchell, Ryland Hart, Woody Maxwell, & 8 other team starters.

The biggest logistics to any distance paddle relay race on the ocean is securing your boat escort. This was my number one concern when I signed up for the race. It all ends up working itself out somehow. You just have to believe in yourself & what you are doing.

We slept on the sailboat the night before the race. This is advantageous because you are at the start of the race (Santa Barbara Island) when you wake up. Of course, sleeping on a sailboat is not for everyone (me included).

The other option is to stay at Two Harbors Isthmus on Friday night, and boat over early on Saturday morning (about an hour boat ride). We weren’t able to practice our switches prior to the race, but I recommend doing this if you can. For the race, we tied the dingy to the side of the sailboat, and we would enter & exit via the dingy. Each racer paddled for 20 minutes and than we would switch. We would count down for the paddler to let them know when they had 10 min., 5 min., & than 2 min. At 2 minutes the boat come to the paddler, & the skipper would put the engine in neutral, & we would do the switch. In between paddles we would drink water, coconut water, & juices.

We ate fruit such as grapes, apples, & oranges, & protein bars. During this type of race it’s important to stay hydrated. It took our team 71/2 hours to reach the finish. After the race we joined our fellow racers at the luau party, and enjoyed a couple of buffalo milks together (special island drink)!

It was an awesome adventure/journey and I look forward to doing it again next year! The ocean was a glorious blue-one that will be with me forever. We saw a blue whale, and a couple of pods of Dolphins along the way. You too should do it! –Maggie Adams

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