Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dubai Race

Tom Kerr and Jim Hoffman, two local paddlers will be flying to Dubai to compete in the richest race in the surfski world. I don't think they will win any prizes but they will have a great time and represent the New England paddlers. This will be Tom's second Dubai and Jim first. Mark, Tom, Jim, Roger were all out today for another training paddle before taking off to Dubai in a few days. We wish them luck!! No Drysuits needed!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kirk Olsen Wins Great River Race

Kirk Olsen was the 1st overall finisher and the first in the racing class. This race was held in Norwell, Mass this weekend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Training, Racing, Training

Today, one week after the Blackburn, Tim and Dave Grainger and I did the Double Beaver Course on a very hot day. We had a good clip most of the 13 miles but we really pushed it from the green can to the headland before House on the Rocks. This 3.5 mile section is very challenging at race pace due to the disorganized seas. Hopefully it will not be as jobbly next weekend for the race.

Due to a variety of circumstances I will not be doing the Surfski champs. I must say thinking about that big water does make me anxious. Speaking of big water, we have two summaries of Tom Kerr and Richard Germain accounts on this years Molokai. So stay tuned for that in the next few weeks.

Locally the next races are the Double Beav, then the Nahant Race, Bird Island Challenge, and Jamestown Counter Revolution. Fun filled August for races.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Training For San Francisco

Finally I decided to do the Surfski Championships this year in San Francisco. I secured a Huki S1R from Jude so I appreciated Jude helping me out. As you can see from the photos, I have my trusted S1R that I will be spending time in once a week in the biggest water I can find here in Rhode Island Sound including Ocean Drive, Beavertail and Sachuest Point. One of my paddling partners Bill Leconte who is in the pic to the above right, knows Sachuest Point intimately from a few years of paddling his Evo in 20-30 mph winds routinely in this area. While I paddle this area sometimes, I tend to pic it on the better days. However, since I will be doing the Surfski champs, I will be paddling these areas where the water tends to be much bigger than in Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River where I tend to do most of my training. Yesterday Tim, Mike, Bill and I did 2.5 hours around Ocean Drive on a flat day. Today Bill and I did Sachuest Point. Bill in only his 3rd time in my old Legend(above pic) did phenomenally well. I was in my S1R getting used to the feel again, since I will be paddling the same model boat in San Fran.

The bridge pics are of the Mount Hope Bridge at the opposite of Aquidneck Island where I live. This past Thursday it was blowing 25-30 and the current under the bridge makes for a confused seas. I am using my visualization that is so much talked about in any athletic event. The Mt. Hope Bridge looks like a mini Golden Gate Bridge in my mind, so I am using all my senses to get ready. Stay tuned!!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Hours

Winter is a clarifying time. Greenery gone, the short, gray hours invite reflection. On this bleak February day, encased in drysuit and neoprene, I launch from the Saugatuck boat ramp under the clatter of I95, and paddle out the river's mouth at Longshore. Arcing left around Compo Beach, the bow of my surfski swings north, tracing the stretch of coastline from Westport to Fairfield I’ve traveled by land and water so frequently before. The Connecticut coast, like many coastal states, is largely private. Town beaches and public access spots are few and far between, with the majority of sandy spits belonging to the mansions that dot the shore, or the private beach clubs with low lying cabanas and clubhouses. My route takes me past Southport, to a turn around the green buoy can off Jennings Beach and back, approximately 14 miles.

No one else is on the water in my field of vision. It is calm, with a light wind texturing the gunmetal gray surface of Long Island Sound. In the distance toward Smithtown Bay, squat the dark hulks of several moored barges. I stay a hundred yards or so off the coastline, far enough away to skirt the rocky outcroppings of jetties, close enough to impart some sense of security. The flame graphics on the bow of my ski, ‘Ring of Fire’, are an irony cutting through the fetch of the icy water that hovers at 37 degrees. The cones of the hut-shaped buoys that line the coast are sugar coated with ice. Spare groupings of seagulls wheel overhead. An occasional miniature lone silhouette, or pair of figures, arms linked, walk a pocket beach, accompanied by a leaping dog, perhaps two. The distant inland traffic drones softly, faint white noise carried as static over an empty radio channel. Beyond that, it is quiet. The summertime sounds of the shore are conspicuously absent. The silence is a tangible thing.

Everything appears different from the water’s perspective. There is the world of the land and the world at the surface of the water. And there are the levels beneath, where the blade of my paddle fades away from sight at the catch, suddenly breaching with a splash past my hip. It resembles some living thing in gasp reflex…a smooth black back catching its breath, only to dive again.

Hugging the hook of familiar Southport Beach, the curved seawall hunkers as arms crossed across the chest of the land. Faceted by stone after stone spilling onto the sand by the rusty culvert, large, roughly hewn boulders mark the place for conversations on the rocks, real, or imagined and hoped for. In the summertime, this strip of beach is alive, abuzz with vehicles pulling in, pulling out. Runners, and cyclists, and Rollerbladers roll along the roadway that parallels the water. The seawall is an open invitation for picnic lunches and dangling legs, cement scorching the backs of bare thighs. Ducks and oily baby geese dabble the shallows at low tide, the domed helmets of horseshoe crabs piggybacked in tidal pools. Before sunset, the light across the Sound is blinding; the water and sunlight are one, dazzling. You must squint into the sea to discern the horizon. At dusk, bats swoop low over the strip of grass dividing the seawall and road, scooping moths at the single yellow bulb above the doors of the restroom outbuilding. By night there is an owl, a great horned (rimmed), perched in the tree across the street next to the salt marshes. By night, I might imagine, it is the place to share stories over bottles of red wine gazing out over the water, watching painted dabs of moonshine ripple and shimmer across the Sound.

This is not that time. Everything is cyclical. All that I know about cycles and seasons insists the waters will warm again, the leaves will green; time passes. But what is real? What is imagined? To have crazy faith in circles and cycles is not enough. Sliding by purely as passerby on this day, as one might gaze into vacant store windows that blankly return your stare, I no longer belong. It is cold; the chill saturates my bones. Numb, I am neither here nor there, between worlds. And always, time just passes as I move out of the elbow of the land into open water, leaving my beach behind. I do not deliberate; I simply go through the motions, one repetitive stroke after another, moving in circles, always in circles, with no other intent but to move me away. It is hollow out on the water; it is lonely and barren and exposed, an empty vessel with the walls lifted off.

~Mark Ceconi

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Racers, Start Your Ergometers!

For paddlers in the northeast climes, our liquid state of matter goes all solid-like for several months of the year, causing us to scratch our heads in bewilderment. When this occurs, we often drive back and forth, boats on the roof, seemingly lost and disconsolate, before eventually accepting the inevitability of it all (Life is so unfair.) and heading back indoors to wait out the winter season. We take to our indoor trainers, be they bike, running, rowing, or otherwise, to flail away alone in darkened basements and family rooms-a lonely, isolated existence. Since humans are, by nature, social animals, isolated pockets of individuals in other sports have clustered together to train indoors. Cyclists have their spin classes, runners have their banks of treadmills at the local gym or spa, and rowers have their Concept II competitions like the CRASH Bs. And Kayakers had...squat. Until…

Behold, the wonders of the Internet, and the good Dr. Erik Borgnes, top regional and world ranked surfski racer out of Wisconsin, along with Tom Kerr, registered Molokai and past Dubai Shamaal competitor from CT. They recently recruited a group of 10 paddlers interested in the motivational powers of pitting their indoor ergometer times against one another, but most importantly, against themselves. Erik created a Yahoo group (kayak_erg@yahoogroups) where paddlers could participate in six weekly time trials at a 5K (3.1 mile) distance, post their thoughts, and view their rankings. Tom tabulated the weekly results via a spreadsheet program designed to crunch the numbers, and track the times and rankings. Each paddler established a baseline in the first session, which he or she attempted to best each week. Results were based primarily on individual paddler improvement, vs. out and out lowest time. The roster comprised racers from coast to coast. Larry Goolsby (Washington), Andy Howell (Colorado), Erik Borgnes, and Sue Bartfield (Wisconsin), Eric Haas (Michigan), Matt Skeels (New York). Tom Kerr, Greg Lirot, and myself (Connecticut), and Tim Dwyer (Rhode Island).

The impetus for this idea was the inception of the first indoor kayak ergometer competition. KayakPro and Grayson Bourne, producer of the hallowed Speedstroke Kayak Ergometer, will be hosting the Indoor Kayak Ergometer Championships on February 20, 2010 in Oklahoma City, OK, patterned after the indoor rowing events sponsored by Concept 2 Rowing Ergometers. Concept 2 facilitates a number of smaller events throughout the U.S. and world, culminating in the epitome of indoor rowing competitions: the C.R.A.S.H. B.s, in Boston, MA, on February 14. This event draws competitors from every area of the globe, in all age and gender brackets.

I’ve raced the Crash B’s for the past two years, joined by a number of other lunatics intent on pushing past anaerobic thresholds (‘To infinity and beyond!’) for the grueling 2K distance: 6-7 minutes of gritted teeth and stratospheric heart rates. A number of us wondered why there wasn’t something similar for the forward facing kayak crowd-enter the KayakPro event, and more informally, this Yahoo group of indoor 'erg-ers'.

For our Yahoo group goals, the normal short sprint distances of other events morphed in to a much longer 5K (3.1 mi.) time trial. This is a brutal distance, short enough to be considered a long interval, and long enough to make you wish you had never picked up a paddle shaft. At the conclusion of this 5K series, the group decided to continue the format, but mix up the distances with some marathon 10K distances and 500m sprints.

These machines are incredibly effective specialized training tools, replicating the feel of the forward stroke with unimagined realism. All the paddlers were on Speedstroke units, with several upping the ante and moving to the newest and greatest incarnation of the Speedstroke machines midway through the sessions, the new Gym. This new, high zoot KayakPro Gym unit also offers the capability to hook machines together for virtual training sessions, and offers the feature of racing a pair of computer generated paddlers on a tv screen. (I demoed this model out at the Jersey Paddlesports Show. Lars Linde, who was manning the KayakPro booth for Grayson Bourne, unbeknownst to me mischievously set the two computer paddlers to come around in the final kilometers, no matter what your velocity. I almost had a coronary trying to keep the little CGI paddlers from outsprinting me. The day before, Lars had pulled the exact same stunt on none other than Greg Barton himself, who was on the brink of nuclear meltdown winding it up to around 13 mph to stave off the little demon avatars.

After completing the 5k series, the paddlers have embarked upon a variety of distances, solely to mix things up a bit: several 10K trials, then back to the 5K, and finally, some 2K, 500 and 200m max efforts. Far, far better than training alone, the equivalent of solitary confinement, the added competition and camaraderie has been a motivating force to continue training through the long, dark, and cold days and nights on the tundra. ~Mark Ceconi

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mint Kevlar Legend For Sale, $2500

I have 3 Legends now. This one was one of the first batches of Legends produced so is weighs 32lbs. Very durable, more stable than my carbon version and other kevlar version. Mint conditon. Check out reviews and race results to get since of speed and stability. Contact me at 401-864-8196, or