Jun 19, 2014

SUP 4 Men's Health Expedition: Vancouver to Victoria powered by Duracell and Simon Whitfield.

the route

Bluegiraffe Photo: SUP4MH &emdash; DBAIN_20140614_8009537-ME
photo by Blue Giraffe Photo

Simon: glad you are part of the SUP community and thank you for being the creator of this beautiful expedition. We experienced it all from baby seals on boards, to side chop, strong currents, sun, rain, delicious healthy fresh foods, blisters, good conversations, some water time for some of us, boats, waves, calmness, beautiful sunsets, campfires.... and the list goes on. The pacific north west delivered it all and I loved everyone bit of it.

If you asked any one of us on the trip why and how we got to be on this trip... The typical answer was through Simon. Simon, a Canadian sport hero, a retired triathlete and now new to the sport of SUP. He brought together 10 other paddlers (his friends) to paddle across the Georgia Straight/Salish Seas from Downtown Vancouver to Downtown Victoria. Paddling this distance across these waters is not an easy feat for the most elite of paddlers and a pretty darn amazing feat for those who don't stand up paddle all that much. Our group members have some pretty amazing backgrounds not only in SUP but in life as well. Some of the backgrounds of people on the trip included: Olympic Gold medalists, pro triathletes, top level swimmers, people who rowed across the Atlantic, world champions, people who had accomplished other amazing adventures on SUPs and or other sports and just a pretty unbelievable group of people all around. It was too cool to come together to promote Canadian's Men Health and complete an amazing paddling journey.

Below I will share aspects of my experience throughout the journey... I am sure each paddler experienced different magical moments, hardships, and expectations.

Photo By Rory McGarry

I knew it would be difficult, but for some reason I wasn't too worried about the trip with all the great planning, safety, boats, and support surrounding us. Lyle, Aaron, Louise and Rory were all on the support boat that would follow us and ensure our safety throughout the trip.

photo by Rory McGarry & Adrien Sala

Day 1 was going to be the toughest day, with the big crossing, the longest distances, and strongest currents. It indeed was the most difficult day: 12 hours, 70km, max currents with and against us, side chop, etc etc... It was also the first time the 11 of us were all paddling together. So, a big day with many paddlers we had never paddled with before. Challenges would arise.
We had our send off form First Beach on English Bay at 5am. The water was calm and the temps perfect. We got across to Point Grey quickly and efficiently and it was here where we took our first break before the BIG crossing. Things were looking good, everyone was on track and together. We were all excited and in good spirits and ready to get the crossing done before winds and currents would make it more challenging. We were aiming for Dionisio Point on Galiano Island. I have to say I was happy to have the support boat with us, with all the boat traffic, it could be a very scary place to be all on your own. The safety boat was able to make calls to other boats to let them know we were there paddling across the shipping lanes. The current was on our side for half of the crossing but the westerly winds gave us a pretty steady side chop. We were all feeling the effects of paddling mostly on our left sides but with strong minds and the desire to keep moving we were making good ground. Everyone did such an amazing job of bunkering down and dealing with the conditions, enjoying the fact we were doing something very special that few few people ever do. For me, it was too cool to paddle this crossing as I have taken endless ferries across and always wondered what it would be like to paddle across. Here I was in the midst of paddling across on a SUP! I was happy to be wearing my 7mm booties as others who were barefoot were starting to feel the effects of the cool water. As we crossed the water temps decreased all the way to Victoria. Unfortunately for me, my hands started to blister throughout the crossing which is new for me (I rarely blister). My blistered hands proved to be slightly annoying for the remainder of the trip, it would cause me some discomfort and therefore affect different parts of my upper body as I was adjusting my grip to avoid the pain in my hands. It was the worst at the beginning and after breaks but once I was into the rhythm of it I my mind would forget about them for a little bit at a time. We made it to the tip of Galiano by noon. Here we took a well deserved lunch break before taking on Porlier Pass. We didn't see any wildlife throughout our crossing but it was pretty beautiful to look right, left, forward and backwards. We truly live in a very beautiful part of the world. After looking at the strong currents of Polier Pass and wondering if any of us could paddle through it with boils, rocks, and crazy currents, Mike Darbyshire was the only one that managed to paddle the pass at max current of 8.2 knots against us. It was crazy to see close up how the boils were forming and the quickness of the current. I just stood there and watched it for awhile, amazed. Jack also explored the currents on his prone board but could not punch through to the other side. The rest of us hiked around the point to skip past the worst of the currents. What the next 4 hours would entail was frankly pretty heart wrentching and mentally difficult... We paddled so hard against such a strong current that we were making very little ground at 2km/hour. The current was fierce and our muscles getting tired. We all paddled close to shore but still the effects of the current were very strong. The last 20km along the coast of Galiano were tough going and we really had to dig deep inside of us both physically and mentally to push through and make it to Montague Harbour in good time. Luckily we made it to Montague Harbour with smiles on our faces and with plenty of light left. We enjoyed our accomplishments in good company and with delicious foods that was prepared for us:) The sunset was grand and then it was off to bed, my brain and body were ready for some rest and a good sleep!

photo by Rory McGarry & Adrien Sala

photo by Rory McGarry & Adrien Sala

Day 2
After a killer of a sleep, I was ready to conquer day 2. I love those sleeps where your body and mind are so tired you just fall directly into a deep and delicious sleep. Once awake ont his beautiful morning, we enjoyed an amazing breakfast of fruit, coffee, and an unbelievable egg sandwhich. After breakfast it was all about getting ourselves onto the water for a 9am departure but first we had to haul the boards back down the trail and stairs to the water and bags back on the boat. The weather was warm and calm which made for a nice start to the day. Our first crossing from Montague Harbour on Galiano to Prevost Island was easy and calm and beautiful. I couldn't stop looking around and just taking in the beauty of the islands and ocean. It was a very calming and freeing feeling as I paddled and just took it all in. As we passed Prevost Island the winds started to pick up as weheaded alongside Salt Spring to the tip of Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring. Boat traffic increased a little and we could see the ferries out in front. We continued on past Portland Island and a bunch of smaller islands where among them Jack had the amazing luck of having a baby seal jump onto his paddleboard. He didn't touch it but let it enjoy the board before he dipped his board back in the water so the baby seal could continue his journey and join the rest of its family in the water. We stopped for lunch and a little break in the sun with the view of Sidney town in the foreground. Post lunch the crossing over to Vancouver Island was a little intense with lots of boat traffic, waves, wind and current...but we made it. It was a couple more hours of following the coast line to our next camp site at Island View Beach. It was pretty easy paddling from there on. At Island View Beach we were greeted by the Men's Health and Fantan folks who showed us to our campsite. We enjoyed some time to relax in the sun, chat, and eat some amazing and delicious food before heading to bed nice and early. Another tough BUT too amazing day at the office:)

photo by Rory McGarry & Adrien Sala

photo by Rory McGarry & Adrien Sala

Day 3. We all agreed that our pririty was to make it to Victoria Harbour in a safe manner on this last day of our expedition. In order to achieve this we had to all agree to leave earlier than the original plan in order to beat the predicted high winds and potentially bad weather. So a 4am breakfast, 4:30am bags to the beach and 5am departure was the plan. It rained throughout the night but at the critical moments of getting up and getting breakfast the rain had ceased for a little bit. Our breakfast of egg, bacon wraps and coffee was perfect. We all dressed a little warmer on this rainy, cool morning with neoprene, toques, booties, and gloves. We were pretty eager to get on the water and start paddling as the predicted winds were going to make the paddle a tough one. The paddle to the first major point was pretty rough, it was a whole lot of side chop and one needed to just push through to get to the point. Once we rounded the corner LUCK was on our side as the conditions actually got better instead of tougher. We happily paddled passed the Discovery islands and then past Trial islands and onto Clover Point. At Clover Point we expected the toughest conditions but our timing was perfect as we cruised past way ahead of schedule. We eventually rounded the Harbour walls and that was it, we stuck together as we cruised into Victoria harbour to meet the few fans and workers that managed to get there 5 hours before our scheduled arrival. We were greeted with signs, coffee, and hugs. It was perfect.

Bluegiraffe Photo: SUP4MH &emdash; DBAIN_20140614_8009549_ME
Photo By Blue Giraffe Photo

Bluegiraffe Photo: SUP4MH &emdash; DBAIN_20140614_8009569_ME
photo by Blue Giraffe Photo

Photo by Brian Raymer

What an unbelievable experience with some pretty amazing paddlers and for a great cause too. Thank you to Simon for the invite, the other paddlers for the company, CMH, Fantan, and all of those that helped make this trip happen with such success.

Check out dontchangemuch.ca and Canadian's Men Health Foundation for ideas of making small changes to ensure a long healthy life.

Photo by Brian Raymer

The amazing paddlers:
Simon Whitfield
Duff Gibson
Yannick Michaud
Morgan Hoesterey
Lina Augaitis
Markus Pukonen
George Pisek
Jack Bark
Roch Frey
Chad Guenter
Mike Darbyshire

Lyle Berzins: Boat Captain
Erin Bradely: Boat Captain
Heather Lejeune: Project Manager, Fantan
Tina Rogers :Communications and Events Manager, CMHF
Kirsten Ovstaas: Course Coordinator
Matthew Traynor : Volunteer Site Assistant
Campbell Kearns: Chef
Rory McGarry: Videographer
Duracell, Edge Energy Foods, Fantan Group, Men's Health Foundation

Thank you SIC for the board: the 14ft Bullet V2 was great.
WernerPaddles and Nikki Rekman Sales for the paddles (Small Grand Prix paddle)
SeasonFive ( Kiowa hoody, barrier capris, crystal tank) and Kokatat (Hydrus 3L Tempest Pants with socks -  Tropos, otter jacket) for the perfect things to wear,
Clifbar,  Feed the Machine for the nutrition
OnItPro, Ryders Eyewear, Surffur, Larry Allison Fins, the added extras that make the paddle that much sweeter
Crossfit Vancouver,Ultimate Potential, Olympus Movement and Mobility,
Kalavida Surf Shop, Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak,

photo by Rory McGarry

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!


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