31 Gold Metals from world Dragon boat Championships as a paddler. Gord was a coach at 3 world Dragon Boat Championships and acted as program Director for 2 years. Gord has a strong history as a Marathon Canoer with an amazing 9 time provincial open C1 Champion and 2 time C2 Champion. Gord is a 3 time Canadian 40+ C1 Champion and a world 40+ WOMPO C1 Champion. Gord won many of local races, North Bay, Mattawa for 12-14+.
CANOE RACING 2018 by GORD COLE
I had a good time canoe racing in 2018. You will see by the accounts that follow that races are never perfect, the key is to adapt and make the best of the situation. A lot can change over the course of a 2 or 7 hour race.
Due to heart issues during the fall of 2017 my early season was not focused on the 110k General Clinton at the end of June. My plan was to start with shorter races and build up to see how my heart responded. The following is a summary of my season
April 2; 15k Dam Hespler race in C2 mixed with Gwyn. The first race of the year is always a shock to the system and hurts. Lungs burn, body wants to quit and I wonder what I am doing for the first ½ of the race. Then it gets fun. Slow, over 1.5 hr but fun.
May 12; 28k Marsh Mash men’s C2 with Chris from Belize. We practiced and moved the boat well. The race start was chaotic, not enough room on the line for all the boats. We got squeezed and Chris couldn’t paddle for a minute or so. I paddled at 100% (BIG MISTAKE!) to keep up. When we finally got free our 2 main competitors were ahead by a few hundred meters paddling together, riding wash and relaxing. 20 minutes of hard paddling later we caught up but were pretty beat. The other boats immediately took off leaving us struggling unsuccessfully to keep up. The initial sprint cost us. The lessons are; be careful who you are beside on the start and stay cool on the start. I know this stuff but still get carried away and make mistakes.
May 26; 40k Big East in Huntsville in C1. The race starts on a lake, up and down a twisty technical river then back across the lake. I had a great paddle, passing canoes and kayaks all the way up the river where skill really pays off. Finished in 4:10, maybe a course record.
June 23; 50k Kawartha Paddle Quest in Peterborough, a new race, in C1. The race started with 30k on Stoney Lake then 20k down the river and locks, lots of portages, finishing in Peterborough. The lake section is protected from the normal winds from the west and north. Unfortunately race day saw east winds and rough conditions. I paddled a short warm up and realized I was pretty unstable so I got out of my boat, lowered my seat and put on a PFD. Meanwhile, I missed the race start and was ½ a km or so behind. I got going and focused on the waves while try to catch Don in C1 up ahead. I finally caught Don, started watching him instead of the waves and promptly tipped. Swam to a nearby rock, got going again about 1/2km behind. Focus on the waves, go pretty well, catch up, focus on the other C1 and tip again, way out in the middle of the lake. Probably a ½ hour swim. Luckily Bob in a C2 came by (C2s started after C1s and K1s), stopped and did a canoe over canoe rescue. Thank you Bob! Get going again, only watching the waves! By the time I got off the lake Don was out of sight. The 7 portages were around locks. Boats got out at the start of the locks and in after the locks with portages on grass. Not me, on some locks I got out well into the locks and back in early. Instead of carry the canoe I dragged in on the grass. For the first time in 20 years I was passing people on portages! Lots of fun! Caught a lot of boats on the portages and on the water, including Don. Won the race for C1. First half of the race was my worst race ever, 2nd half was great. 5 or 5.5hours.
July 7; North of 7 in Bancroft, 12k in C1. Coming off an injury with no paddling for 10 days. Felt flat, couldn’t keep up to Dragan. Finished 2nd. Uneventful.
July 29; North Bay to Mattawa, 64k in C2 with Dragan. My Favorite race! The last 2 times I raced with Dragan we put holes in our boat, so I was hoping this went better. The water was very low so instead of the usual 5 portages we would do 12, with no dragging the boat or other portage tricks. For the 1st 2 hours on the lakes we were easily riding wash in the lead with the eventual race winners, top pros from Saskatchewan. Paddling was good but we lost more than 1 minute per portage finishing in 3rd, 2nd in our class. Had a fun back and forth race with a couple of ex Olympic rowers until we finally left them. Finished in 6:20, slow year.
August 5; a cottage regatta, 4k with my daughter Miranda in a recreational canoe. I have been doing this regatta since 1967 and Miranda and I have won the mixed race since 2012 as well as winning overall a couple of times. Lots of fun. We were 1st canoe, beaten by a good kayaker.
August 11 and 12; US Nationals, 20k each day. The first day was C1 with around 40 or 50 boats in my class. 2 lap race. Shortly after the start was a buoy turn. Race started, I set up to turn on the inside (I corner really well in C1) in 5th or 6th place, then the guy right in front of me stopped! I couldn’t get past and watched boats passing me while I desperately tried to get by. A video showed at least 17 canoes passing me while I was stuck. I finally got around the corner way behind the boats my speed. Paddled hard figuring if I caught up I could ride wash, rest and recover. They were paddling hard as well so I didn’t quite make it. Paddled the best I could, catching rides where I could on kayaks (they started after us), feeling a bit discouraged. On the 2nd lap my C2 partner in a woman’s C2 caught up and I road their wash for about 7k, passing 6 C1s. Bonus! Another race with a terrible 1st half and a great 2nd half. No idea where I placed.
2nd day was mixed C2. Karen and I paddled well and smart. Finished 2nd in our class, 13 seconds ahead of 3rd and 4th.
August 25; Canadian Nationals in Sudbury, 20km. Men’s C2. Stan and I raced well winning our class. Planned to race C1 the next day but for personal reasons couldn’t.
Cannot remember date: OC6 race in Oakville on L. Ontario , 16k. Big swells, fun paddle. Good team. We were by far the fastest team, out in front but couldn’t find the marker buoys. Ended up paddling almost 22k in a 16k race and won anyway.