Friday, April 17, 2009

Ocean of Hope Campaign begins with the Catalina Relay

The 2009 Ocean of Hope campaign seems to begin earlier and earlier each year thanks to a wonderful group of paddleboarders and members of the Lanakila Outrigger Team. This year Aimee Spector is leading the charge with races dedicated to the Sarcoma Alliance and a fantastic raffle featuring a stand up paddle board from Joe Bark. The raffle was a tremendous success raising over $4,000. Alicia Gaut was the very happy and excited winner. Thank you, Aimee for the great beginning to 2009.

Following is report of Aimee’s latest adventures on the sea……

“I raced with my Lanakila teammate Shien Lu who is really awesome at pulling out the stops on race day. We both had an excellent race and were fired up the whole way. Jane Cairns, paddleboarder extraordinaire and Ocean of Hope team member, was our escort boat driver, so, come on, how could we go wrong?

We left Catalina on Sunday to begin the race with grey overcast skies, a side wind and not much bump. In short, conditions pretty much stunk.

There were about 50 teams racing, a total of 110 paddlers, with three teams in our division. That doesn't sound like much I know, but this is 40 miles of grueling racing, so it comes down to the elite (or crazy, or both). My partner and I battled it out with another team the whole way across, pretty much trading places until around mile 25. Then our rival team got a 3-minute lead, and we thought maybe all was lost. But Shien Lu and I are pretty phenomenal racers, so we decided we should just close that gap, and in less than 5 miles, we had. Then it was a dog fight to the finish. I would like to say we won, because that is an awesome ending, but we didn't. We finished a boat length behind, about 20 seconds. But honestly, it was one of the best races I have ever had. I couldn't' have asked for a better partner, escort boat driver, or finish (well, unless we had won).

I had Tina Owens' name on my canoe across the channel (she died of sarcoma last year a few months after the Catalina Classic where Matt Belanger had her name on his paddleboard), and her husband Bill and daughter Sarah were at the finish to greet me. Slade and Kelly were also on the beach in full 02H regalia; I was proud to be racing as member of Ocean of Hope. I think it gave me that extra push when conditions were terrible, or when a change went wrong, or when Jane told me we weren't even 1/2 way there yet.

On a side note, the third place team came in about 45 minutes behind us. So a boat length isn't too bad at all!”

Talk to you soon,


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