After running around in the salmon rivers chasing bears in the GreatBear for most of September I flew down to Las Vegas to meet Jen after her and her Feed the Machine/Dart Nuun teammates had just won the Desert Winds Adventure Race. The following morning we headed over to Lake Tahoe after driving through Death Valley and reminiscing Jen’s Badwater race a couple of summers ago. This Tahoe Fall Classic attracted me because of the 22 mile distance and the opportunity to paddle across a stunning lake with mountains rising in all directions. I had contacted Duke Brouwer from Surftech and asked if he could bring a raceboard for me to paddle on. I would have paddled on anything really because i was just so excited to be in board shorts and to paddle big open spaces but having race board would be fun and would certainly make my day easier. Duke did not disappoint as he pointed me towards the 14 Surftech Jamie Mitchell Lahui Kai race board sitting on the shoreline. Obviously i had never been on this board and i was amazed at how easy it paddled compared to my Bark Expedition. Two totally different boards. The board felt pretty stable under foot. I liked the pink color. It’s 27 inches wide and i really like the feel of it. I even managed to surf a little boat wake with it. Unfortunately the boat wake was heading in the wrong direction so I hoped off and blazed towards the seeminly endless shoreline ahead of me. It was a cloudless sky with crystal clear blue waters and flat calm conditions…..beautiful paddling. I finished the 22 mile race in 3 hours and 48 minutes which was good enough for 3rd. Surftech athlete and former World Whitewater Kayak Champion Jay Kincaid arrived just ahead of me and Hawaiian SUPer Jared Vargas had an impressive race for an easy 1st place victory. After not having paddled for 3 weeks prior my body felt really good and responded to the long distace. I thought often of my Standup4GreatBear paddle and the big distances i had to cover which helped me mentally. I think I should have drank more(water i mean) since i only put down half a litre. Even over that distance with paddlers close behind i felt i did not even have time to grab a drink let alone try to grab some of the shotblocks i had in my waistbelt. I had a smile on my face for all of it because i just really enjoyed being out there paddling on Tahoe. The vibe was fun and after the race i got a chance to get to know Jay and Duke a lot better as we cheered the rest of the field as they came in. Jenny Kalmbach was amazing and took first place in the women’s division. The sun was hot and the Primo beer cold as Jen and I enjoyed our time on the beach.
Thanks so much to Surftech and Duke for bringing the Lahui Kai for me to race on. A week later i would be racing against the board’s namesake, Jamie Mitchell, at the Battle of the Paddle at Dana Point California.