Cali Paddler is thrilled to have Si Mendoza from San Diego share with us some recent fun he and his crew had during a trip up north to explore the Memorial Day Hoe in Monterey Bay. If you haven't heard of this race, here is your chance to learn more and be inspired for a trip to awesome-land next time. Once again, traveling our state rocks! -CP
How did I NOT know about this for all these years?! An extended holiday weekend full of paddling in different divisions with different water crafts over two days in a beautiful city with delicious pubs? Um, yea – I’ll take two of them please!
Memorial Day weekend is a non-SCORA racing weekend and there have been urban legends amongst myths about a race in Monterey so myself and a few of us in SCORA threw a Motley Crew together (James Rojas, Leeann Bare, and Brad Gill) to meet up with a few NorCal wahines (Amy Treadwell and Maria Peterson) to see if there is any truth to this magical fun filled paddling weekend.
Memorial Day weekend kicks off NCOCA’s season with this race (Memorial Day Wa’a) hosted by Ke Kai O’Uhane OCC out of Del Monte Beach near the famous Cannery Row in the beautiful city of Monterey. This race is an epic two days of racing short courses, long courses, and small watercraft in surf conditions and the wind pumpin! I took my time getting up there so come Saturday afternoon the short course/novice racers were finished and the open mens divisions were coming in. I was hearing tales of 6,7,8 foot swells with intermittent 10 foot sets coming in (oh yea, I can already tell so many people are salivating and chomping at the bit!) conditions large enough that the men’s long course was shortened for safety reasons but people were just digging it, especially because the last leg of the course was all downwind catching bumps! I unfortunately missed the first day of races, I wish I knew better! The day ended with the award ceremony and a very talented keiki hula performance.
Day two consisted of small watercraft (SUP, OC1, OC2, and surfski) in the morning which had a short course and long course and following the small craft races was all six man mixed crews. NCOCA runs a mixed open, mixed masters, mixed senior masters, and mixed kapuna – that’s a lotta divisions, yay! Even gnarlier is that I was told NCOCA has a new category (for mixed division only) where you can race under the category of your team “average age” for example if you have a crew with a few kapuna’s, a few senior master’s, a master’s, and an open paddler if the total ages of all the paddlers divided by six created the sum of 40 then the entire crew can register as a mixed master’s, or senior master’s if the average meets so the bell curve of the one or two open paddlers doesn’t have to push the rest of the crew as open if the other paddlers were old enough, that’s pretty cool, neato, and fun! Below is a picture of Melissa Ulrich whom paddled two races, short course SUP and long course mixed open and won two first place honors along with Jim Dimke who paddled in FOUR races (which four? So lost count!) and he was a multiple medal winner both paddlers representing from the host club whom are two awesome people and examples how much fun you can have competing in multiple races over two days!
The start of the race up here may be something SCORA racers aren’t too familiar with unless you’ve paddled in Hawaii or a race in PNW ORCA – everyone was lined up and sitting still at the start line – didn’t know there was such a thing, ha ha! Getting ready for the mixed division races is my version of getting ready versus Amy.
It appears that when the mixed race started there was also a sailing regatta and our Captain James Rojas had to flex his steering skills!
Something I’ve never done before was a “beach finish” so you don’t cross the floating dorito chip to finish the race, you paddle to the beach and have your designated runner jump out and cross the finish line. I’ve seen it tons of times but never done it myself or any of our races end in that manner. Plus my legs are toast at the end of a paddling race or practice but then to run in water and sand, oh yea – bring it! Our strategy was that if there was enough separation between us and whomever is behind us, I can “run” it in – however, if the race becomes close we would unleash a REAL runner/athlete to bring it in, that person being Brad and Captain James had to make the call. Our steersman did in fact have to call the audible for Brad to step up but we were fortunate enough to pull away and the play changed back for me to bring it home. Pulling up to the beach and jumping out with jello wobbly legs I was definitely stumbling, fumbling, bumbling my way up the sand with blade in hand swinging it around like the sword of Voltron. It wasn’t pretty, but it was fun and I crossed.
Our crew of Misfits were second across the line and second in our division but without a doubt finished first place in fun. And from the looks and chats with all the other NCOCA racers it felt like we all crossed the first place line in fun at the same time and altogether!
Now are there details that my non short term brain has missed? Definitely! But all that means is that more SoCal racers should go up there and find out for yourselves. The mana was so positive, the people are great, and the course is fun. It’s tough to beat a holiday weekend of paddling, lots of paddling….In a beautiful city…..With lots of great pubs….Just sayin ;)
Special thanks to Ke Kai o Uhane for hosting this event and letting us splash around in your playground, and thanks to Nicole Sholly of He’e Nalu for letting us borrow a six man for the race. I know there are others I have forgotten in which case, come down to a SCORA race so I can apologize with purchasing an adult beverage or few for ya!