35th Annual Regatta and ETC Benefit

sea kayak underneath the Golden Gate Bridge

35th Annual Regatta and ETC Benefit

Sea Trek Regatta 2017

by Jules Gismondi, November

After seeing the Sea Trek Regatta for the first time, it is obvious why folks have been taking part in this race for decades. It welcomes everyone from beginning paddlers to world class athletes and everything in between. With 3 different course options suitable for different skill levels, it was easy for everyone to take part in this race benefit for Sea Trek’s neighbors, Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC).

I had heard stories of fog, wind and course modifications due to adverse weather conditions, so I prepared myself. Yet the conditions for the 35th Annual could not have been more perfect. It was a warm, sunny October day, with a soft breeze that kept us from sweating too much. The Sea Trek team was hard at work, showing folks where to park, checking in racers, getting boats down to the dock and helping to launch and land 169 racers for a prompt start.

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At the start line, the energy was palpable. There were traditional kayakers, recreational paddlers tackling the course on a sit on top, stand up paddlers, surfski racers, outrigger canoes, single, double, and triple kayaks and even prone paddleboarders. It was a delight to be out there with so many people. Watercrafts spanned the width of Richardson Bay. Everywhere I turned there were friendly faces, new paddling buddies, and the chit-chat that tends to accompany those race-day butterflies, as we waited for Steve to give us a go.

Pretty quickly off the start line the groups separated out, the long-course racers heading southwest, the intermediate and short course racers gunning straight for Angel Island. The first half of the race was a little lonely, and I had a rough time paddling from the Gate to the island due to the garden of eelgrass and kelp I was collecting on my rudder. My favorite part was the convergence of the Golden Gate and Angel Island participants. When I finally saw friends out there, they helped to clear the trailing mass of greenery and put me back in a happy mood. It’s always special when you get to paddle some of the course with friends and support one another.

After the race we lazed around in the sunshine as the raffle prizes and awards were given out. Food was shared, beer was drank and the afternoon flew by. Finishing the race was an important goal for everyone. Many of us had trained hard for this, paddling in the rain, cold, heat and wind. We worked on our technique, practiced, got better, and practiced more. This being my first Sea Trek Regatta, crossing the finish line felt like a huge accomplishment.

But beyond this was the reason why this race happens in the first place. As participants we raised $10,000 for ETC, an organization that provides kayaking opportunities for people who otherwise would not be able to experience paddling. For those of us who paddle regularly, we understand the positive impact that a watersport can have on one’s life. Not only did this race raise money, it fit the spirit of the organization. We were all challenged, supported and welcomed at this event, regardless of experience, craft or background. I cannot wait to race again next year, and continue to support ETC’s powerful mission.

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