(Winners Taylor and Hirtle)
Story and photos by Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
28 human-powered watercraft and their humans braved unseasonal weather and subpar air quality to participate in the 2018 edition of the annual Great Cross-Sound Race, which launched off Alki Beach at 9 am Saturday morning.
The race, presented by Sound Rowers Open-Water Rowing and Paddling club, is open to all human-powered watercraft Event organizer Jeff Knakal said he was pleased with the turnout for the race, in light of the lingering smoke in the area.
“It’s great to see the variety of boats,” said Knakal (photo above), who, with wife Theresa Knakal, has been directing the race since 2001. “We have everything from a prone paddler to a four-man rowing shell, and beginners to very experienced rowers.”
While the vast majority of entrants used kayaks or rowing shells, this year’s race also featured a pedal boat and a stand-up paddleboard.
James Taylor and Peter Hirtle completed the course in 53:15 in their two-person open-water boat to best the field of 28. The final finisher was Ralph Allen, who crossed the sound in a wooden fixed-seat boat, finishing in just under two hours and 21 minutes.
¨I am surprised that it went as well as it did, considering the weather and the smoke,” said Knakal, who has been directing the race since 2001. ¨The boats came in really fast for the conditions. I thought the chase boat might turn some of the less-experienced people back, but that didn’t happen, so that was great.¨
(Club photographer Michael Lampi in his pedalboat)
Knakal says the race originated from a bar bet over whether the Sound could be rowed across in an hour. The 1988 race was the last to finish at Bainbridge Island, with all subsequent races starting and ending off Alki Beach. The current course, adopted in 1994, runs more than seven miles in a triangle starting from Alki and going around Blakely Rock and a buoy near Decatur Reef before returning to West Seattle.
¨It got really windy toward the island and got super-tough going around Blakely Rock,” said stand-up paddleboarder Zak Abeles, a student recently transplanted here from the San Francisco bay area who completed his route in 1 hour, 42 minutes. ¨It was raining out there, but it was pretty fun.¨
Watch this page for full results. Meantime, Sound Rowers’ next race is the Bainbridge Island Marathon on September 15, which is their longest race of the year. Club membership is not required for participation.