If you suddenly find your self in this Covid year 2020 with the necessary time to contemplate life thoughts, consider your self lucky. Most people don’t. Maybe take the time now to write down your own story.
The picture below from over a decade ago – showed up on my Facebook memories. Simply titled End of Race Ralph, Dubz and Pirate.
Throughout life I’ve continually searched for life lessons about living and enjoying the later parts of my life.
Only by chance did I come across and later join these rare salt of the earth fast boaters types ………….for they are the dirt bikers of the ocean, the snow boarders of the slopes, the bull riders of the …………..get the point?
Riding out to Catalina island from either Angels Gate or Long Beach R2D2 lighthouses; the longest break waters in the world feels similar to say riding the Baja 1,000. Our usual goal was to try and make it across the channel at a wide open throttle while constantly maintaining a jockey sitting position.
Steady hand on the throttle, for when a wave catapults you skyward you need to let off quickly for fear of burning up your now ocean water starved supercharger. Back then a blistering top speed in excess of 65 mph was considered extremely good.
And god help you if you land back down and your steering is anywhere askew of straight ahead and you are not yet back on WOT throttle. A pitch pole in the sailing world or a wipe out on the slopes will surely occur.
I began referring to them as helmet heads before meeting the first one – Kim B. They wore helmets, they raced, and when not racing they trained. The fortunate part for me is that the launch ramp was only a short dog walking distance from our little San Pedro California home.
Those days are now over a decade behind me. But, the friendships developed and the thoughts and memories I now hold are priceless.
The life lessons continue even today as I now continue to ride America. Only this time the road is less forgiving. I am older and wiser with lots more wisdom. The machines are 100% more dependable, reliable and way faster. The people I don’t believe have changed. Everyone is still enjoying the thrills of their riding passion and a desire of still going faster without stopping along the way to smell the roses.
My greatest life lesson has been that life can change in a second. This is why it’s important to always live your best possible life and be passionate about all that you do.
The following is a story I wrote some time ago following our 2009 Mark Hahn 300 mile race on Lake Havasu, Nevada. Enjoy your life for you don’t get a do over.
Trawlercat became my riding handle when I first signed in to the GreenHulk jet ski forum and I was asked for a username. My intent was to use Trawlercat Catamaran but, only 10 letters allowed.
Subject: Trawlercat on 2009 Mark Hahn 300 mile race
Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. – Vince Lombardi
So what gives? I’m now one of the youngest guys in my yacht club but one of the oldest guys racing? Hopefully, it’ll only be the ski that breaks at WOT (wide open throttle) and not me!
I coined the following words a few days prior to the start of the Mark Hahn 300 mile endurance race (Feb 28, 2009) to get a running start on the never ending Trawlercat Chronicles.
I actually wasn’t that far off, for you see my ski did break – supercharger gave out at the 192 mile mark. What’s worse is that we just moved up to 5th place overall. Pwcoffshore.com offshore endurance riders – cleaned up with its founder (M. Gerner and R. Carreon) taking the overall first place trophy.
Thank you Mark for the true professional you are, the dedication, commitment, effort and for making all of us look good. Hooooah! I also believe that we have shown the west coast what offshore riders can do inland – even in extreme conditions – more on that later!
Pwcoffshore endurance riding may for now just be a west coast phenomena but hopefully, in time we (our team) will travel on the company jet to the east coast to see how we fare up to our east coast counterparts. (We never got that good- no company jet sorry)
They don’t have to worry yet, we won’t be showing until the economy recovers – and that may still be a year or two off. East coast readers, what’s the name of your race?
Our races are known as the LB2CAT (original) and the one we just won – the one with the most spirit, passion and commitment from the officials and community, including their Mayor – the Mark Hahn 300 mile endurance race.
Picture this. A force maybe even bordering on religion said, “Let there be endurance racing” and so it was.
The skies parted, the wind gods were summoned and ……
Predictions – What can one say about predictions. To me I am now officially done with making any more weather predictions – so long as I live. Truly those combined prayers by those Kawasaki Ultra owners and team riders were answered.
Week before the race – sunny, flat near 80 degrees, winds maybe 6 knots. Day before the race, flat, 81 degrees, minimal to no wind. Day of the race – forget the weather – winds from the California side started blowing around 4 a.m. with a vengeance; creating huge lake like white caps for the start of the race.
Truly a different experience as we were lulled into a false sense of security upon our arrival to Lake Havasu. The 10 mile course was now a definite 300 mile endurance race. So just how does Lake Havasu do it?
To get through the 10 mile course my partner (Sean Conner – The Terminator) started by first heading straight into waves coming directly at him. Great WOT (wide open throttle) run for us offshore guys and gals.
If you’re already signed up for the Dana Point to Avalon Sprint, Sunday, April 5, 2009 – 8 a.m. then we’ll see you there. This is more of what we’ll be serving you but, much, much more and way bigger. But then, I’m done with predictions – remember!!! So, don’t hold me to it.
For those not familiar with the Mark Hahn course I’ll describe the first 10 miles as I saw it.
From the ca-ching (scoring boat zig zag buoy) to the first turn boat I’ll coin this the WOT Head Seas Run. Great run for offshore riders, but not so much fun for those wanting to sit and ride.
From Turn Boat 1 to Turn Boat 2 I’ll call this part the Beam Seas Run. The combined effects of the wind and water was now hitting your starboard (right side) as you zig zagged your way to the turn boat due to all that “swell” action.
From Turn Boat 2 to Turn Boat 3 this is what did many in, for I will now refer to this run as the Heart Break Supercharger Run.
You are now running with the waves; depending on your boat and speed your PWC is now experiencing a near drowning situation. The conditions were not making it right for most of us to stay hooked up. I felt that supercharger working hard but, just like magic – midway down the run conditions changed.
Now you were in for confused mixed seas. This is where I predict that all the lake boat swells come to congregate. Someone that launched their pontoon, bass or fishing boat say 10 miles away, in any direction; their swells eventually found their way here.
This swell then makes friends with other swells. Pretty soon they will throw together a “swell” party. You will “crash” this swell party after just getting through Heart Break Supercharger Run.
Now you round Boat 4 and things begin to look up. You are WOT close to the shoreline but not too close to run into trouble with the 2 feet of water or “no swell” markers.
Remember, those beam seas you encountered just after Boat 2? Well, those beam seas have long since found deep water and have gotten larger and more confusing after a short distance and they are now not your friends.
But from here – you can safely see your friends, the scoring boat and even the pit crew. The “barn” is now in full view and your trusty steed has now taken your nearly around the entire course. You are now ready to enter the ca-ching and be counted. All that effort you expanded, all that sweat, endurance training just to get to this point.
This my friends, is your culmination point. It can be a sexy thing for some but, not for others for you see many that reach this point have or will:
a) Hit the scoring boat;
b) Embarrass themselves by falling;
c) Round the buoys the wrong way;
d) Pass your competition in the no passing zone;
e) Opt to DNF (did not finish)
f) Beg/plead to have their partner switch riders;
g) Run into each other; or
h) Effortlessly glide across putting on the best show of their lives for all and one alike to see.
And that my friends is the end of Lap 1 with only 29 more laps to go. “Cowards won’t show and the weak will die”
Does this border on the impossible for you?
Not so says SoCal Watercraft Club rider Aha and his team mate (Mona) from Brooklyn; whose first time on a jet ski was only a short few months ago.
Not so says Ironwoman Shawn Alladio who was planning on riding one of her many trusty steeds she uses to train others. Visit www. k38watersafety.com/forum/index.php for more info. She was planning on riding the Kawasaki F-15 model she affectionately refers to as “Jay”.
In the end she showed us what can be done on the Ultra 250X. Thank you Kawasaki for you have given us another win for the team.
I write most of this story from the comfort of a hotel bed having only ridden half the 190 mile laps before breaking down. Thank you partner Sean for a great start. Am I going to be sore when I stand up? Maybe so, but not as sore as those that tried to ride the course while sitting down.
I referred to skis earlier as steeds but they are far from one. You do not have stirrups to cushion the blows to your lower back. But what you can have is what our offshore riders refer to as foot wedges from Hydro Turf (www.hydroturf.com). Thank you Hydro Turf for a great product and a great sponsorship. The team thanks you with a win!
You need lifter wedges for these type of riding conditions to stay on your ski. To top it all off you also need non-slip great looking seat covers and mats. To use the wedges you need to stand up and let your legs do most of the work. Wedges keep you on your boat. If you want to know how to install them visit www.pwcoffshore.com.
Those four or so riders we saw fly off their ski’s at the start – possibly were not using wedges or were not standing up.
For all those others that did experience mechanical failures or issues you know that endurance racing is not only about the mode of transportation (PWC, car, motorcycle or boat) but about the person.
Did you perform to your full potential. Hours after the awards banquet and celebratory parties I know most slept the sleep of content for their extremely worthy accomplishments.
A special thank you to my original partner Jim W (OU812); your work commitments come first but, thank you for your continued support and on the water testing of our Ultra.
Thank you for setting it up with our Pit Crew Chief – O’Side Bill. (RIP BILL)
You did a great job and are now a great new friend. His fuel sucker, my son Mike has now caught the offshore racing spirit. You may see him in the Mark Hahn 2010.
The individual team effort in the words of Vince Lombardi is what is needed to make it all work out. “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
Until next time – See you on the (saltwater)!