Mystic Seaport Small Craft Weekend
 
 


2007 Blackburn Challenge Summary

Holding to tradition, Russ and I stayed with Uncle Wes and had dinner at Halibut Point, Howard Blackburn's original tavern. Big breakfast at George's Diner including pancakes. Then down to check in at the launch site.

Upon arrival, Jon Aborn came over to examine the boat and commented that it looked like we were "gunning for bears."

The starting order was changed from prior years and all of the sliding seat classes went off before the fixed seats. Our posted start time was 8:05.

Weather was excellent as far as temperature and humidity. It was actually a little cool at the start. We caught the tail end of the outgoing tide for the first three miles. My GPS registered 6.5 - 7 mph for most of the initial leg out to Ipswich Bay. By the time we made Ipswich Light we had a lead on the other double, only two in our class this year, and only two of the singles were ahead of us, both in Guideboats. Jon Aborn was running alongside in his Monument Wherry.

Winds were out of the north at less then 10 mph and the seas where less then a foot. We were nearing Halibut Point when we switched out water/snack breaks. The run across Pigeon Cove seemed direct with a following breeze. We made the halfway point, Straights Mouth in an hour and thirty minutes. During the trip along the northern shore and across Pigeon Cove we maintained 5.5+ mph, even during stroke recovery. We noticed a sliding seat boat being towed upside down into Rockport and another one pulled up on the rocks of Straights Island. Russ and I both grabbed a quick water and scroggen break in the protected area just through the cut.

Once through the gap and headed along the beach we were subject to big rolling swells from the south that were the result of storms earlier in the week. The waves would produce big booming sounds as they smashed against the granite shore. We tracked a good course to Brace Rock but were subject to catching our oars in the broadside waves. Fatigue probably played a roll in our difficulties. We both took water at the head of the breakwater in preparation for the final leg. We made it to the tip of breakwater at 3 hours and 15 minutes. Once clear of the jetty we were headed straight into 15+ mph winds. It was hard to make 4 mph. A tough slog up the harbor but we finished in 3:42:57. The best time I have ever posted, under what I feel were the fair conditions.

Another trip around Cape Ann complete!!!!

I headed right to the massage table and Russ went for a beer. Uncle Wes joined us for the party.

The boat ran great. The only water we took was from catching oar tips. I added an aluminum skeg from a racing shell the week before the race and did some fine tuning on the trim. I consider the boat a major success. I will be lowering the oarlock heights and the seats about an inch to improve stability for next year.

Russ and Bill
Russ and Bill work on the setup and trim of the Last Chance
on Long Pond in preparation for the Blackburn Challenge

Note: Bill Armitage and Russell Smith completed the Blackburn Challenge on July 21, 2007 rowing Bill's newly constructed boat, the Last Chance. For details about the construction process see New Craft Begins to Take Shape.

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