Sea to Ski report

Me and Edith at the finish line
Edith and I at the finish line

Edith and I have spent a few months preparing to go to Ski to Sea, and it ended up being a pretty good event. We went in with cautious optimism, and without being explicit we were pretty keen on having a good showing among other female crews doing the race.

Apparently my pre-race warm up involves checking out Viking butt
Apparently my pre-race warm up involves checking out Viking butt. There is a lot of waiting around at ski to sea, waiting for your cyclist to come in a deliver the timing chip so you can start your leg of the relay. This is the only photo of either of us in the Bellingham Herald

We scoped out the start and finish areas, we ran the river the day before to learn the course and get used to the swirly conditions and obstacles, and we practiced running entry so we could get going early. We got lots of advice from Graham and Trevor, my favourite of which was ‘paddle wider when it’s swirly so you don’t fall in’. Happily the water dropped from about 10,000 cfm to about 8,000 cfm so things were calmer when we went to race.

Mike and Ivan running down to the shore
Wait followed by GO! Mike and Ivan running down to the shore

Almost 30 boats headed out before our cyclist came in, and the last boat about 2 min ahead of us so we expected to be doing a solo time trial with no one else around. Edith ran in from the cyclist handoff with all the lightness and swiftness of an antelope, picked up the boat and we got going quickly. We hit a little gravel with our paddles on the upstream section, but we had the boat popped up in the shallows until we turned around the buoy into the downstream section. Then it was a swift downstream run trying to avoid the newly-exposed deadheads and tipped-boat-rescue-operations (our viking buddies shown here).

A tangle of boats starting the short upstream section
A tangle of boats starting the short upstream section

We passed 4 boats or so but were basically alone until the very end, when we realized we had a ‘bogie on our 6’: a pair of fast women in pink shirts and hats. Crap! I thought we had a chance to be the fastest ladies but when I saw them I thought we’d been caught by a boat who started way after us. I figured if they caught us by that much we should try to wash ride off them; and started looking for a good chance to get on their tail. They took some different lines than us which made us nervous, but they never actually passed us, so after 5 or so minutes I thought ‘forget it!’ and mentally stopped waiting and trying to catch the wash and instead tried to crush them. We took our own lines and stayed to the left so we could get into the finish beach. We cut in to the shore a little too soon and almost washed up on a gravel beach, but ended up surviving and getting to the beach first. The chasing boat slid up right next to us and took up Edith’s stepping spot, making it difficult to get out (clever girls!) I jumped out and yanked the boat out, and our mountain biker also helped. Our leg didn’t end until our boat passed the finish line, so we ran it up the sand and onto the grass.

Trevor and Joe catching up on the competition
Trevor and Joe catching up on the competition

We were feeling pretty good about it, although a little disappointed to have been caught by a boat. As it turns out, they started very shortly after us and followed the whole way – so we beat them on the last metres of the river and the beach! I am still a little suspicious of this since it doesn’t seem like we could have not noticed them for so long, but since this puts us first in the women’s boats and 22nd out of all 500 boats I’ll take it!

Here is the CKS press release:

Saskatchewan Paddlers Have Top Place Finishes at Ski to Sea

Several Saskatchewan paddlers contributed to top place team finishes at the annual Ski to Sea race held May 25th in Bellingham,Washington.   The race combines cross country skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and sea kayaking.  421 teams competed in the event.

Ivan English, Edith MacHattie, Trevor Robinson, Graham Smith and Catherine Trask of Saskatoon and Mike Vincent of Regina all competed in the canoe leg of the 7 leg race.  English, Robinson, Smith and Vincent represented teams which posted 3 of the 4 fastest canoe times of the 421 teams competing in the event.  As well, MacHattie and Trask were the top female canoe team.

English and Vincent represented Team Aeromech which finished 2nd of 52 teams in the Competitive Open Division and 2nd overall out of all divisions.  The duo posted the fastest time of all teams in the canoe leg of the race.

Trevor Robinson was a member of the team which finished in 5th place overall in all divisions and in 1st place out of 7 teams racing in the Masters Division.  Robinson and canoe partner Joseph Manns posted the 3rd fastest time in the canoe leg of the race.

Smith was a member of the Boomer’s Drive-in Team, which finished the race in 4th place in the Competitive Open Division and in 8thplace in all divisions.    Smith and canoe partner Ron Williams finished in 4th place in the canoe leg of the race which is especially noteworthy as Williams is a 74 year old paddler.

MacHattie and Trask paddled for the Cascadian which finished in 2nd place out of 12 teams in the competitive mixed division and 26th overall.  The pair finished the canoe leg of the race in 22nd place and was the fastest women’s canoe team.

The Ski to Sea race has been running since 1973.  It is based on an historic race called the Mt. Baker Marathon which was held from 1911 to 1913.  It attracts participants from around the world and includes several divisions in the competitive and recreational categories.

For event information please visit the official website at the following link:

For results visit the following link: