Adventure Races

Previously published in Small Craft Advisor, November / December 2015, Issue No. 96

"Yes, Hugh," Marian Buszko enthused. "Roger Mann's Race to Alaska was incredible!"
In steamy July near Cedar Key, before putting in Dobro Pogoda, his CLC Skerry, Marian came smiling with a gift of smoked local fish (mullet). He pointed enthusiastically at DP's improved stowage and demonstrated her hydraulic steering's moveable wheel position. Then he frowned and his smile drooped. "But, Roger could have been lost." I agreed; a lesser sailor-athlete might have perished.

Hal Marian spoke again of his worry about adventure racers becoming examples, unwittingly encouraging people into tragedy.

Duplicating feats of any of them doesn't appeal to me. I'll meander over the waters they race, at least the warm waters. I'll try to be as prepared, but I'll decline racing's incentive to push past prudence.
But, I wonder. Could a new sailor up North think, in spring, on a thickly hazy, breezy hot day, 'Hell, if that Polish physicist can row an eight foor boat eight hundred miles, I can sail the neighbor's Sunfish a quarter mile to the island...'. I'd hope the afternoon's fifty knot squall line wouldn't get him, nor the cold water.
For each such blithe thinker there must be many inexperienced sailors recognizing the dedication - the seamanship - needed for an Everglades Challenge or R2AK.

In Port Townsend, when Roger's Hobie Island was displayed before the R2AK, repeated comments were, "You're going in that?" and "You look very prepared!"
He grew up on a South Carolina farm, learning and doing its work and loving to build things, including an airplane from plans when he was seventeen. He's built twenty eight planes, but his first boat was in 2009, his PuddleCat8 design, which essentially taught him sailing in 2010. Now fifty one, he's kept fit since early high school, and on through his Air Force years. Most days he runs three miles and puts a couple hours into "extreme" exercise programs.
His deepest enjoyment of long events comes from the time to reflect on life, to think about "how to be a better person."
He has signed up for the 1200 mile Florida Ultimate Challenge next March, starting with the other EC racers on Tampa Bay.
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Rodger advocates them strongly, for mundane times, too. My belief is the people looking - Coast Guard, families, county marine officers, etc - will search anyway, so we should make it easier for them.

Hal Marty Worline as a child started with Peterborough canoes on Rice Lake, Ontario. In 2000 he began sailing a Sunfish. With his son he entered the 2014 EC in his SCAMP Fat Bottom Girl. He knows, because of "preparing for and doing the EC," he's "much more safety conscious," now at the age fifty two. He shares what he's learned and believes others have learned from him. In that EC he and Jamie towed to the finish, under full reef in twenty five knots, a competitor's disabled sloop, half again FBG's length.

Hal Meade Gougeon, the hugely accomplished epoxy purveyor, has raced top level multihulls and ice boats for half a century. His class winning, cruising sailing canoe, Voyageur, equipped with amas that stow in her, is the most developed one extant, including his seat in which he sleeps. Comfort is his goal, to be rested, ready to meet the unexpected.
Since shoulder surgery in July, he's been striving to make Voyageur even easier to handle. He'd made another mast and boom, cutting his rig's weight forty percent. He has added rough surfaces to reefing hardware, so his equanimity is less frazzled by slippery pieces - sometimes (we know) a real pain for septuagenarian fingers. (Three cheers to Meade!) And he's testing a battery powered pump to help protect his healing shoulder.

Hal Marian launched in Town, and battery motored a half mile to the low tide sandbar on the north side of Atsena Otie Key.
After organizing her gear and lights, as soon as the tide turned the sixty-one year old walked her before dark to enough water to sail. With a moderate westerly, off he went south southeast, helped a little by the flood down coast. Soon he was tracking the night's constellations.
Twenty five miles later he anchored well before dawn, in the shallows - upper eighties water temperature - of the Saint Martin Keys, near Crystal River.

KayAnn In the morning he waded about and e-mailed, "Hugh, it was beautiful! How can we not do boating?"

His return was wet upwind, close hauled with his new sail, motoring and motorsailing. In twenty two hours he made his fifty miles a day. After taking out in town that afternoon, his phone call bubbled exuberance, "It was incredible, Hugh! It was wonderful! I have extra MREs, would you like them?

~ HH

The best photos on this page are from Marian Buszko.

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