Normally Lake Tahoe is calm & hot. Not this weekend though. The forecasters called for high wind warnings on Saturday & Sunday and they got it right unfortunately. I chose Tahoe as one of my "big races" this summer because of my lack of skill when the swell gets big. I had pictures in my head of mirror-glass conditions and hot, flat water racing. It turned-out to be the opposite.
The wind and white-caps would come marching across the lake at about 9 a.m. each morning. Saturday the wind hit gusts up to 40 mph and steady at 25.
Saturday morning started with the Open 5 mile race that followed the shore line out 2.5 miles and then back. Shoulder-high side chop the whole way. Many people couldn't even stay on the boards while kneeling. It was brutal for those guys. Rod Parmenter finished 3rd in that one.
I was seriously stressed out waiting for the Elite race in the afternoon. My Naish Javelin is so fast, yet so tippy. At the last minute team mate Karen Wren and I swapped out for 12' Naish Glides. Not fast, but excellent for the waist to shoulder high chop we were going to battle in and out with. When the referee blew the whistle, it was the first time I ever paddled the Glide. It was a 4 lap race, with a beach run every lap. I spent the entire first lap figuring out the board, and by that time my race was over. I was in "just finish" mode. I ended up 19th out of 21 elite men. Bummer. Glad that was over! Karen smoked me and all her time on Hood River and Maliko really showed! Danny Ching won, followed by Rob Rojas and Chuck Patterson.
The next day was the 10 mile distance race. I showed up at the beach wearing pants and 4 sweatshirts, trying to stay warm. They moved the start time up to 9 a.m to try to beat the wind, but literally at 8:45 it blew in again. Crap. Not as bad as Saturday, but again there was chest high chop out there. It was a 5 mile out into the wind, turn around, and "surf" back. Again we were scrambling for more stable boards 30 minutes before the start. Karen got a 14' Glide and I got a 12'6" Ron House, sweet!
The first 5 miles seemed to take forever... gusts up to 30mph would almost stop me dead in my tracks. I was stoked though because I was keeping up with Rod on his 18' SIC. I knew that anyone with downwind experience was going to smoke me on the way home. We rounded the buoy, finally, and Rod was gone... bye bye. I think he put 12 minutes on me in the last 5 miles. Again I'm on a board I had never paddled before! I gotta quit doing that! Then came the muscle cramps in my legs and lats. Then I started falling in for no reason. Felt like my body was turning on me. Ended up finishing around 20th place and 2nd in Stock Division. 2 hours and 26 minutes to go 10 miles, a new "slowest average" record for me.
Danny Ching won the OC division while Rob Rojas & Chuck Patterson took the SUP division on their unlimiteds. Karen Wrenn was the 2nd female, a great weekend for her again! Great job Karen, you are a force to be reckoned with.
My awesome sponsors Dave and Meg Chun of Kialoa gave me a bed in their condo and fed me and basically took awesome care of me for the whole weekend. They are the greatest folks in the world and I am honored to use their paddles. They got "soul." They ain't flashy, they just do it right, and they treat their riders awesome. Chuck Patterson came over for dinner and along with Karen and John Wrenn it was great.
The atmosphere, like at most these events was super cool, friendly and laid back. Dave had a huge cooler full of beer in the Kialoa tent that anyone with a smile was welcome to drink. A great weekend, all in all, except for the 28 hours of driving to get there and back...
Jeff Underwood after the brutal open race...
Me & Chuck Patterson... I'm half his size!Me and Danny Ching... I'm half his speed!
Danny and Dave Chun of Kialoa Paddles...
Me & Dave... the best sponsor a guy could have!
Chuck & Meg Chun talking paddles
Seattle boy Greg Gilbert getting it done!
Hood River local Rod Parmenter finishing the open 3rd!
Start of the open 5 miler... CRAZY wind.
Brandon Rambo pinky-lifting the 13 pound 404
Hollow carbon 404's!
Dave & Chuck at the Kialoa condo...
Chuck playing with his dog in front of his mom's house...
Danny Chings OC1
My friends Mitchell & Kelly from Vancouver B.C...