by Kathleen Petereit.
On August 2nd, Derek Crook and I raced in the Alert Bay 360. The race is open to any human-powered boat. There were sea kayaks, racing rowing shells, a First Nations team in a beautiful war canoe, row boats, canoes and OCs.
The prizes were $500 for first, $250 for second and $125 for third for both men and women. Also a $500 prize for first double. The draw prizes are the most unique of any race on the continent, perhaps the world. Local carvers donate hand carved masks and paddles. Local businesses donate all kinds of camping and fishing gear. There were 105 boats at the start line.
Neither of us were expecting to do that well, as we both had injuries and Igor told me I’m getting too old to do eight 20km downwinders in a row for eight days straight. Ron, Derek and I have OCD when it comes to downwinders. Regardless of the injuries, we dug deep – the adrenaline high helps block pain. Derek won second place and I won first place, which surprised me as my stiff competition was Zoe Nu’u, and she’s a very good paddler.
Funny thing is, when I race I hear Igor’s booming voice in my head hollering “PUUUSH!!!! ” If you train with him you understand why.
The race is very cultural, with the Chief of Alert Bay in attendance. The whole village comes to life for this race. They were cheering us all on from beaches around the island. In the evening, they opened the Long house and performed ceremonial dances and we had the most amazing feast.