The second annual swim race from Picazone to Isla Coronado took place yesterday, 13 October 2012 just north of Loreto. One hundred forty four (144) people from as far as Mexico City and Ashland, Oregon, signed up to swim. The day before the race, the winds picked up and blew through the day and into the night, and were unabated in the morning. 20/25mph constant with gusts in the plus 30 range whipped the sea into a frothy stew of whitecaps breaking on top of 5′ ground swells. Perfect conditions (NOT) for a 5.5 km swim between the peninsula and the tiny islet (oldest volcano in Baja) where currents and tides make for a difficult passage even on a glassy day.
The race co-ordinator did his best to discourage swimmers who were not in extremely great condition, trained for the race and confident in their ability to make the crossing. In spite of his warnings, 122 men, women and teens jumped into the warm turbulent sea and began the journey across.
Pangas, sports boats and kayaks offered support and encouragement and pulled swimmers who became overwhelmed by the conditions onto their boats.
I had earlier decided to SUP (stand up paddle) and registered accordingly. There were three others set to paddle – but either did not show up because of conditions or did not enter the water. Maybe smarter than me 🙂
My initial goal was the first flag. Once I managed that I thought, well, the second flag. This all the while with a backup plan of turning around and heading back to shore (as my girlfriend had requested that I do). But once I passed the second flag I was, okay .. now to the third flag. Of course, by the third marker, the seas had kicked up in the 5’/6′ range, and while standing up on my board I’d find myself in the trough of these large groundswells with no clear view of the horizon.
When the second 6 footer tossed me into the sea, I switched from SUP to SDP (sit down paddle). Even with a reduced face to the blasting wind, I was being pushed south (had to go north to make the island) faster than I could paddle. I also found it near impossible to keep the nose of the board into the wind — finally, I put my left leg into the water – an extra rudder, and while paddling with my leg created drag and slowed me down (more), at least I was heading in the right direction. Several adjustments, like pulling up leg and using foot only as a directional rudder until the wind took the nose again, allowed for forward motion. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me – and I just dug down and found more to pull from.
I encountered a young woman swimming alone. She looked up in a 360 motion – like where is everybody? I paddled toward here and paddled near her while she made her way past the rocks into the cove and onto the beach.
When I reached the sand, it was almost anti-climactic. Like – where’s the battle now? I rang the victory bell – signed in – and photographed other swimmers making their way.
To each and everyone who completed yesterday’s difficult crossing – Congratulations! And even for those who were turned back, congratulations on your efforts!
Can’t wait for next year!