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 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.