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Salish Sea SUP Crossing

Stand Up Paddle Salish Sea Crossing | #SALISHSUPX

Salish Sea SUP Crossing 2016 Debreifing

I would like to take this time to answer any questions or concerns about our attempt to cross the channel yesterday. It goes to show how challenging and arduous crossing the Salish Sea on paddle boards can be. Having crossed from Nanaimo to Vancouver successfully the past two years it was a very tough call to make yesterday.
Even with all the advanced weather data, back door access to environment Canada's forecast information, it demonstrates the unpredictability of the Georgia Strait and what mother nature may throw at us. It also goes beyond the weather and you have to take into consideration the size and dynamics of the group and how quickly paddlers can become separated in any given situation. Trying to paddle hard through the wind with your head down it is not uncommon to separate yourself from the pack by 2 or 3 km's in open and windy seas.

When we set off at 4:30 we were immediately greeted with moderate north winds creating challenging side chop for the group. These conditions were a far cry from the light to variable winds that were forecasted for the morning. Regardless, the group pushed on. We were paddling on our right side for about 90% for the first 3 hours and averaging about 6.5kms p/hr. Not bad, we had covered some pretty good distance considering the conditions we were dealt with and at 18 kms into it we took a short 10 minute break. At this point were able to start seeing slivers of the Vancouver skyline. Once we refuelled our body's and started back up we could no longer see the city and the wind was blowing towards us at about 15 knots. We were starting to see white caps in the distance. We kept going for another hour and our average speed dropped down to under 2kms. In that hour we only covered 2km of additional distance. We looked up the forecast and it was about to get worst and jump up to 20 to 25 knots. Imagine being on a treadmill and its going backwards 2 times the speed you are running forward. Even if it was possible to weather what was coming for us for a few more hours, by the time the wind would have dropped down to 5 to 10 knots we would still be dealing with headwind. A few people thought it might have been the torrential downpour that caused us to turn around and it was in fact not the rain at all.

It was indeed a very tough call to make. We didn't want the situation to go from bad, to very bad, to worse. When we did turn around although most of the wind was at our back, there was still considerable side chop until we were sheltered by Gabriola island. To keep what we had to carry onto the ferry minimal as possible we had also sent all of our food and water back to Vancouver when we turned around.

The endurance, mental and physical strength and high spirits displayed by these athletes (Norman, Adam, Carmen, Evan, Geordie, Steve, Roxanne, Paul, Jason, and Kelvin) was truly amazing. The whole event was still a huge success. Paddling 40kms yesterday, and being on the water for 8+hours on the Salish Sea this was definitely no small feat and a huge achievement. ~ Harry Saini