28 March 2011

A Kayak Counts, Too

Picture © Star Production International
This weekend saw the 9th annual StarMile Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim.  Three PCVs took part in and completed the 2.5 mile race across the Narrows, including one of our number who finished 35th out of 100 with a time of 91 minutes.  Another PCV friend and myself did not take part in the race, but instead served as lifeguard assistants, manning a 2-seat kayak and traveling along with the field of swimmers.  Our mandate was to help any and all swimmers that required assistance, a water break, or help with their bearing.  And despite our willingness and occasional offers of service, nobody took us up on a water break.

Photo © Star Production International
As one might expect, the race is a grueling test of endurance, as the average swimmer is out in open water for around 2 hours, all the while fighting currents, swells, and the urge to stop.  Many swimmers even experience panic when they find themselves halfway across the Narrows after an hour of swimming, with only the boats around as a safeguard.  (An understandable sentiment, to be sure)  And on top of all that, imagine paying a fee of US$50 to enter?!  For my money, a free kayak trip between two of the nicest beaches in the Federation is good enough.

Photo © Star Production International
The water proved to be choppier than I expected, with swells between 2 and 4 feet in the middle of the channel.  It didn't cause any particular problems for us in the kayak, aside from merely drenching our legs and rears after drying comfortably in the warm morning sun.  But it did make following the swimmers more difficult, since the only marker of their presence was their yellow swim caps, and we occasionally had trouble seeing over the swells to locate swimmers that had strayed from the course.  And after an hour, the swimmers had sufficiently spread out to the point that this was trickier than it sounds.

Photo © Star Production International
But the bottom line is that everybody made it safely, particularly all of our volunteers, some of whom had never done open-water swimming before.  And my kayaking partner, who had never kayaked before, managed not to tip the boat over while we were out over deep water (or at all, thankfully).  The swimmers were able to partake in a special breakfast prepared for them as part of their entrance fee, and we were able to cheer them on and celebrate their arrival on Cockleshell Beach.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it was a fantastic event. Thank you so much for sharing.