[Thank you to Harry Deisroth of Monterey for sharing his awesome experience on oc1 at the Monterey Bay Crossing 2015. To our knowledge he is the youngest person to cross via oc1 and we are honored to have him share his story with us here. This is part of our MBX2015 Race Recap.]
October 3, 2015 marked the date for the 8th annual Monterey Bay Crossing, hosted by Outrigger Santa Cruz. The Bay crossing is 26+ miles from the mouth of Santa Cruz harbor, to Del Monte Beach.
This race has been known to be a fun, exciting, and competitive race where competitors race to attempt to break previously set records.! This year marked a milestone in “MBX” history, having a total of 28 canoes crossing the Bay, including four OC1s, an OC3, 11 iron crews and nine dry-change crews.
I decided to really challenge myself and compete in the OC1 category. Looking back, I think a bit of “crazy” came over me when wanting to do the crossing. Training for the race was difficult. I often trained alone, putting in a lot of early mornings and late nights. Training for more than 2.5 hours was new to me and presented many new challenges that I had to overcome. A lot went in to being 100% ready for the race, from the millimeters of adjusting the ama, to the miles and hours put into training and getting ready. My goal had been set from previous training sessions. I wanted to complete the MBX in 4 hours. I felt ready.
The morning of, we shuttled up to Santa Cruz with other Monterey bay paddlers. After setup on the beach, with everything on my canoe ready to go, GPS, pfd, leash, radio, energy gels, and hydration, the race meeting was called where we discussed safety, weather, and other important things.
At the start it was cold, really cold.. After being on the start line for about ten minutes, the horn finally blew and we’re off! Almost immediately, I am stopped by a piece of kelp on my rudder.. This was a giant punch to the face! I recovered and sprinted to regain my position.. but that was very short lived.. Another punch to the face.. KELP AGAIN! I hear “hey man you’ve got crap in your rudder! We’ll help you out.” It was one of Tamalpais’s crews and they stopped to help me.. I was very fortunate and lucky to have them STOP and help me. It meant a lot, and I was back on my way.
20 minutes in, you could already see everyone heading in different directions. The main pack went straight shot to Monterey and a few went west (including myself). Another 20 minutes go by and I was alone. I knew my line was different than more than half of the competitors, and being alone certainly created a bizarre, offbeat feeling. Luckily I had an amazing support crew on an escort boat that let me know that all was well in the big blue and I was not alone.
After about an hour I settled into a sustainable pace and worked the current and backs of the swells that came from my right. We had about 8 foot seas that day, but man, sitting a couple of inches off the water sure makes everything seem big! I charged on, heading SSW still using the current heading down the bay to my advantage.
Two and half hours in, I started to feel it.. That feeling of “oh man.. I’m really in this now”. I laughed to myself, smiled, and pushed through that initial racing pain. I was now past halfway, and had just gone over the Monterey bay canyon. This was a pretty cool feeling, knowing that there is a couple thousand feet of just water below you. I was greeted by a Sunfish (good!) and some Jelly Fish (terrifying).
After hour three, I turned in from my line, a few miles off of Pt. Pinos and had the light winds and surf at my back. The swell was long period, and difficult to get into, especially as muscle fatigue set in. This last stretch of 8 or so miles was definitely all mental.
Passing the Cannery Row stretch, now only 1-2 miles from the finish, I was now in home turf. Having spent in combined hours, days going along that coast, I pushed harder than my body knew it could. My escort crew gave me a position update, and told me I was ahead of the other OC1’s. This pushed me even farther.
Now going past the harbor entrance and only 500m away from the finish, I smiled, seeing only one other canoe on the beach.. an unlimited. I smiled and hammered on. I could hear my friends and fellow canoe club members, my dad and friend on the escort boat, and others cheering me on as I came in hot flying the ama, ejecting out and setting my feet on the ground. I had crossed the Monterey Bay. It was one of the best feelings... ever!
The MBX delivered more than I expected. It was a great challenge and a ton of fun. I would do it again!
Some photos courtesy of Jim Jackson Rahn Photography (https://www.facebook.com/jimjacksonrahnphotography)
Others by the Deisroth Family
Team Writer Harry Deisroth. - Harry is one of those paddlers who has figured out at a young age what the rest of us only wish we had realized sooner...that paddling is a gift to seize every chance we get. In addition to being a great paddler, Harry is a shining example of giving back, with conservation efforts like restoring native fish ponds, to volunteering and helping crews at Wounded Warrior Regatta. Don't be surprised if you look up and see him congratulating others at the finish line with a great big smile. We at Cali Paddler are grateful to be sharing his paddle explorations and look forward to more as he explores California's coasts and waters.