SEA KAYAK

COURSE LENGTH: APPROXIMATELY 5 MILES (8 KM) : 4.3 NM

SEA KAYAK

Course Length: Approximately 5 miles (8 km) : 4.3 NM

Average Time (H:MM:SS) is 1:05:45.  Range is 0:38:45-1:50:40.
In 2022, the first racer finished this Leg at 1:28 pm
See a short highlight video of this leg here.

Registration:

A designated team representative must pick up the team’s race packet prior to the race. The packet includes the team timing chip, racing bibs, and T-shirts. The designated team representative must distribute items to team members. There will be no extra racing bibs at the exchange areas.

Boat Safety Inspection is Required:

To participate in the Kayak Leg, your boat must pass the safety inspection. There are two opportunities to have your boat inspected.

  • Saturday: (recommended) from 12:00 – 6:00 pm. Once your boat passes inspection on Saturday, you will be given a sticker that will allow you to bypass the long line on Sunday. You do not need to wait with your boat for pre-inspection as you will do final inspection Sunday (see below).
  • Sunday: Boats that are not pre-inspected on Saturday, will be inspected on race day from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Any boat arriving at Zuanich Park after 2:00pm on race day will not be inspected and will not be allowed to participate in the race.

To pass final inspection, you MUST show your PFD with whistle and paddle leash or boat leash if you are on a surf ski, no exceptions. Once your boat passes final inspection (whether on Saturday or Sunday), you will be given a white plastic tent with your Team # on it.  This plastic tent # is required to participate in the race. It should be taped on the bow deck of your boat. Duct tape will be provided at the inspection station.

Kayak Drop-Off on Saturday Recommended:

To avoid the long line and inspection process on race day, we highly recommend you drop off your boat at the Zuanich Park Boathouse (Squalicum Harbor Marina) between 12:00 pm and 8:00pm on Saturday. A local Boy Scout Troop will keep a secure watch over the boats Saturday afternoon and night. A small donation to the Boy Scouts is recommended and appreciated.

By dropping your boat off on Saturday, your kayak will be PRE-INSPECTED by Race Officials early on Race Day morning. You will not have to stand in a long, slow line of boats waiting to be inspected. You and your boat will be expedited through the Inspection station to get the white Team tent # required to participate in the race.

Recreational Division:

The Recreational Category is intended for NON-COMPETITIVE kayaks only. Most commercial recreation sea kayaks qualify for this category. Please note that single-paddle outrigger canoes are allowed in the Recreational Division.

Racing hulls and down-river boats are NOT allowed in the Recreational Division. Boats such as: Heron, Arluk I, Phantom and nearly all Surf Skis do not qualify for the Recreational Division. See the length/width ratio requirement #3 below under Equipment, Skills & Safety.

Rules re: Boat, Equipment, Skills & Safety:

To maintain high standards for fairness and safety in this race, all boats must pass the safety inspection on race day.  All racers must comply with the following safety rules or be subject to disqualification:

1. All kayaks (in all divisions) must meet a minimum length of 13 feet (not including rudders or handles). Inflatable kayaks are not allowed. Sit-on-top kayaks do qualify if they meet the length/width ratio and are over 13 feet long.

2. All kayaks (in all divisions) must have watertight bulkheads and watertight hatches or secure, positive flotation in both ends of their boat.

3. All Recreational Division kayaks must be wider than .094 times the overall length of the boat (in inches). For example, an 18’ kayak must be equal to or greater than 20.3” wide to qualify (.094 x 18 ft x 12 inches/ft = 20.3 inches).

4. All paddlers must wear a standard U.S. Coast Guard approved TYPE III vest-style inherently buoyant Life Jacket (PFD) *and* have a whistle. Your PFD must be worn properly fastened on your body at all times during the race.  All inflatable PFD’s, whether Type III approved or not, are prohibited.

5. All racers should be capable of performing some form of remount or self-rescue (e.g., paddle float self-rescue, cowboy remount, Kayak roll, etc.).

6. All kayaks must be paddled by one person using a double-bladed paddle as the sole means of propulsion.

7. We recommend the use of spray skirts for sit-inside sea kayaks, but only if you are skilled in how to do a wet exit while wearing a spray skirt. Following boat manufactures recommendations is suggested.

8. All outrigger canoes must be paddled by one person using a single-bladed paddle.

9. All surf skis require a paddle leash attached to the boat OR a boat leash attached to the paddler.

10. SUP’s are not allowed.

11. MP3, iPods or similar music/audio systems are are prohibited while racing.

12. The following boats are not allowed in any division: a) “whitewater” river boats; b) Olympic “Downriver” racing boats; c) Olympic K-1 flatwater “racing” boats; d) any 2-person or double kayak

13.  Folding kayaks are something new to the market and are acceptable if they meet the same safety rules as a normal sea kayak. With that said, they are NOT recommended for the open and potentially rough water of Bellingham Bay (they are designed to be used on quiet lakes and calm anchorages) as they have an open cockpit and will take on water in rough waters and they do not have a rudder to help steer in high winds and waves.  If your experience level warrants use of this style of kayak, use caution and good judgement, knowing how to self-rescue is imperative.

Mandatory Pre-Race Meeting:

The Pre-Race briefing meeting will be held at 11:45am on Race Day in front of the Boathouse at Zuanich Park. IT IS MANDATORY FOR ALL KAYAKERS TO ATTEND THIS MEETING TO GET THE LATEST SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT THE COURSE. We will briefly review water and wind conditions, race rules, any course changes, Early Release and answer any questions.

If you are a racer doing multiple legs, you will receive the mandatory meeting notes via email prior to race day. We will include the mandatory safety meeting notes for any pre-race meetings you will not be present for.

Timing Chip Exchange:

The Race Timing chip is on a wristband with a Velcro strap. It is to be passed from racer to racer on your team at each leg exchange according to race rules. You must swipe your timing chip in front of the white side panel at the red timing tent. The chip will not read if it is concealed in any way (in a closed hand, your pocket etc).

NOTE: Our best estimate for when the first Cyclocross Biker may arrive at Zuanich Park is between 12:30 to 12:45pm.

Kayaker Instructions:

When you hear the P.A. announcement that your Team # is approaching, you should immediately get in line at the Exchange area in front of the Boathouse ready to receive your timing chip.

When your biker arrives, take the chip from them, run directly past the timing table and down the asphalt runway to launch your boat on the launch dock. To ensure an accurate recording of your start time (and your biker’s finish time), you must pass the timing chip directly in front of the white timing board at the red timing tent. You will hear an audible “BEEP” sound when your time is recorded. Each kayaker can have one person help carry the boat down to the dock. We also have volunteers to help hold the boat while kayakers get in if needed.

Once you have launched your boat, follow the race course instructions below. The course is marked by six navigational aids. PLEASE NOTE: The Race Committee reserves the right to access a time penalty in accordance with the severity of any grievance due to cut/missed buoys.  This pertains only to the buoys and not to the green day marker as outlined below. 

When you get to the beach at Marine Park, a volunteer will help manage your boat and paddle. Jump out of your boat, run up the beach through the timing chute passing your timing chip in front of the final white board to record your finish time, and ring the ceremonial bell.

For those who want to kayak back to the start line, please go around the stage and put in at the beach. DO NOT go through chute where kayaks are being hauled by volunteers.

Long Course Instructions:

Under acceptable Bay weather conditions, we will use the LONG COURSE for the race. The kayak LONG COURSE begins at the launch dock at Zuanich Park in Squalicum Harbor. It ends at the Finish Line on the beach at Marine Park in Fairhaven. There are 6 navigation aids to mark the LONG COURSE:

1. GREEN DAY MARKER – The first Race Marker is a tall, fixed marine navigation aid with a green sign on top located 1/4 mile directly outside the harbor entrance. Aiming for it will help you avoid motor vessel traffic in the harbor entrance area. From the harbor, paddle straight out (Southwest) and while we strongly suggest you stay to the right of this race marker, you will not be penalized for using the left side. However, it is in your best interest to use the right side to avoid power boat traffic and to stay on course.

2. OUTFALL BUOY – Continue straight ahead (Southwest) to the Outfall Buoy.  It is yellow and the location will be marked by a large orange weather balloon tied to a Race Committee boat anchored nearby. Go around this buoy.

3. GP BUOY – Paddle Northeast toward shore and go clockwise around the second Race Marker — an orange inflatable buoy also marked by a large orange weather balloon – anchored near Cornwall Beach.

4. NORTH BLVD PARK BUOY – Paddle parallel to the shore past the orange inflatable buoy located at the north end of Boulevard Park. Keep this race buoy on your right.

5. SOUTH BLVD PARK BUOY – Continue past the orange inflatable buoy at the south end of Boulevard Park. Keep this race buoy on your right. This buoy is also marked with an orange 6′ weather balloon. Proceed clockwise around this race buoy and head Southwest toward the final Race Buoy.

6. DRYDOCK BUOY – The final race marker is an orange inflatable buoy located past the Concrete Dry Dock in Fairhaven. Proceed counter-clockwise around this buoy and head directly to the finish line at the Marine Park beach.

Short Course Instructions:

If race officials change to the SHORT COURSE due to weather conditions on the Bay, all racers will be informed by a P.A. system announcement before the race begins. The SHORT COURSE begins at the launch dock at Zuanich Park in Squalicum Harbor and ends at the Finish Line at Marine Park in Fairhaven. There are 4 navigation aids to mark the SHORT COURSE:

1. GREEN DAY MARKER – The first Race Marker is a tall, fixed marine navigation aid with a green sign on top located 1/4 mile directly outside the harbor entrance. Aiming for it will help you avoid motor vessel traffic in the harbor entrance area.  From the harbor, paddle straight out (Southwest) and to the right of this race marker. See more details above.

2. 1st MID-POINT BUOY – an orange inflatable buoy well offshore parallel with the North end of Boulevard Park. Keep this race buoy on your RIGHT.

3. 2nd MID-POINT BUOY – an orange inflatable buoy well offshore parallel with the South end of Boulevard Park. Keep this race buoy on your RIGHT.

6. DRYDOCK BUOY – The final race marker is an ORANGE inflatable buoy located past the Concrete Dry Dock in Fairhaven. Proceed counter-clockwise around this buoy and head directly to the finish line at the Marine Park beach.

KAYAK LEG GPS COORDINATES & CHARTS:

Long Course GPS Coordinates:
Station Latitude Longitude Distance (nm) Distance (mi)
Breakwater 48º 45.176’ N 122º 29.817’ W 0.0 0.0
Green Buoy 48º 44.954’ N 122º 30.144’ W .35 .40
Outfall Buoy 48º 44.03’ N 122º 31.11’ W 1.09 1.25
GP 48º 44.500’ N 122º 29.726’ W 1.03 1.19
Boulevard Park N 48º 44.031’ N 122º 30.127’ W .54 .62
Boulevard Park S 48º 43.665’ N 122º 30.544’ W .46 .53
Floating Dry Dock 48º 43.283’ N 122º 31.232’ W. .59 .68
Marine Park 48º 43.13’ N 122º 30.98’ W .23 .26
Total 4.29 4.93
Short Course GPS Coordinates:
Station Latitude Longitude Distance (nm) Distance (mi)
Breakwater 48º 45.176’ N 122º 29.817’ W 0.0 0.0
Green Buoy 48º 44.954’ N 122º 30.144’ W .35 .40
First Mid-Point Mark 48º 44.389’ N 122º 30.562’ W .52 .60
Second Mid-Point Mark 48º 43.841’ N 122º 30.894’ W .51 .59
Floating Dry Dock 48º 43.283’ N 122º 31.232’ W. .52 .60
Marine Park 48º 43.13’ N 122º 30.98’ W .23 .26
Total 2.10 2.40
Long Course Chart:
Short Course Chart:

Early Release:

The intent of Early Release is to help manage the race so it ends no later than 6:00pm at Marine Park.

If you participate in Early Release, your team will not be eligible to receive an award. However, it will not impact your race time or your team’s overall time and you will not have to wait around all afternoon for your Biker to arrive.

We will offer Early Release to kayakers starting as early as 3:00pm. By 4:30pm, all remaining kayakers who have not taken advantage of Early Release will be given new timing chips and will be released whether or not their Cyclocross teammate has finished.

If you know you are participating on a slower team, we encourage you to sign up for Early Release. You can sign up at the Boathouse after the 11:45am Kayak Briefing.

Cold Water Safety Warning:

Please note… The water in Puget Sound is quite cold. It averages about +/- 50 degrees (F) year round.  At this temperature, sudden immersion without proper thermal protection can cause shock and early stage hypothermia within 10-15 minutes. If this chilling state persists, it can become life threatening. It is recommended that all kayakers in this race wear appropriate cold water paddle clothing while racing … such as a dry suit with thermal clothing, or wet suit, a spray jacket, booties, etc.

It is important to understand that, as a race participant, you are solely and completely responsible for your own safety when participating in this race. You are expected to be able to perform a boat re-mount or self-rescue.

There will be safety boats patrolling the race course plus some Race Committee boats anchored at various locations along the course. If you require assistance, wave your paddle in the air.

However, in rough water conditions it can sometimes be difficult for safety boat personnel to see a capsized kayaker in the water, or they may be busy handling other capsizes. It is possible that, if you capsize, you may not receive help from a safety boat instantaneously. If you spot a kayaker in distress, please stop and offer assistance until a rescue boat arrives.

Impact of Bay Conditions:

Before the Kayak leg begins, Race Officials may decide Bellingham Bay conditions are better suited for the SHORT COURSE and will announce that change.

If Bay conditions deteriorate during the race, Officials may decide at any time to end the Kayak leg and stop launching boats.

For example, the race could start with relatively calm conditions on the Bay but later in the afternoon, the wind and waves could increase. If this occurs, paddling on the bay may become challenging and possibly unsuited for this race, particularly for inexperienced kayakers.

Further, any racer who is not making forward progress, or appears to be having difficulty paddling, or is still on the course at 5:45pm, may be disqualified and asked to leave the course.

Lastly, if for any reason you decide before or during the race to not complete the Kayak leg, please notify a race official or a safety boat.

Timing, Viewing, Results and Vessel Pickup:

It is essential that all racers have their Team BIB number visible at all times during the race and when crossing the finish line. Timing of individual legs may vary depending upon the exchange area layout. Therefore, personal time kept by racers may not correspond exactly to official results. Final race results will be determined by the race committee.

For those who want to kayak back to the start line, please go around the stage and put in at the beach there. DO NOT go through chute where kayaks are being hauled. If you are picking up your kayak from the volunteer coral, a maximum of two people are allowed to pickup the kayak (no children please) and one MUST have a team bib.

Infraction of Rules:

Infraction of the race leg rules by any team member may disqualify the entire team. For information on the race PROTEST PROCEDURE & RULES, please go to: http://3z4.e23.myftpupload.com/rules-divisions.

Spectators:

The kayak leg can be best viewed from Zuanich Park, the Hotel Bellwether, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Boulevard Park or Marine Park.

Volunteering for Sea Kayak Leg:

If you want to volunteer for the Sea Kayak Leg of the race, please fill out our Volunteer Form.

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