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Phil Lou - SEVENTY48

June 19, 2024 1 Comment

Phil Lou - SEVENTY48

"I'll Never Do It Again..... Until Next Year"

That's how Phil Lou described his experience conquering the epic SEVENTY48 race in Washington State on May 31st. If you aren't familiar with this endurance race, the rules are simple: No Motors. No Supports, and No Wind. Human Power Only. Peddle, Paddle, Row. The organizers don't care - it's up to race participants to choose the best way to tackle this grueling 70 mi journey in under 48 hours.

Racers paddle the stretch of water from Tacoma to Port Townsend. This year, there were 128 teams, and two TRAK paddlers. The 2024 race marks Phil's second completion of the SEVENTY48, having first completed it in 2022. It all began with his paddling friend Rob who lives on Vashon Island in the race pathway, had been intrigued by the sea of lights paddling past his house. He decided to paddle out to them and tag along for a few miles, resolving to complete the race himself the follow year. He had called Phil to share in his excitement. "From the comfort of my leather recliner, I said... 'I can do that!'" Phil hadn't kayaked in 30 years. He didn't currently own a kayak. There was silence from Rob on the other line.

 

Photos by Dean Burke, Robert Dall, Lisa Harrison, Mark Cole, NWM Staff, and Volunteers.

 

Phil was determined. He bought a Seaward Silhouette on craigslist. He paddled daily to prepare, took instruction and went on training paddles to prepare. The boat was a bit tippy in the rough waters of Puget Sound but he and Rob completed the race in hour 47. Throughout the race, another team triumphantly exclaimed "we're last every year!" "We gave them a run for their money in 2022..." Phil reminisced.

 

 

2024 was different. With the initial experience under his belt, Phil secured a TRAK 1.0 Kayak for himself and set off to train. He joined us in September 2023 at the TRAK Owners Gathering, and again this past May for the TRAK Pacific Rim Surf Camp - both excellent opportunities to master the capabilities of his new boat.

Phil paddled twice a day, morning and evening, for 5-10mi each time to get his reps in.

"After surf camp, I ached all over. We were powering through waves, maneuvering around. It was very different from the long slow paddles I had been training with." His experience at Surf Camp was well timed though "when Rob and I were out in the bigger water it was muscle memory. Bracing strokes, positioning, and reading the sea. I applied in the race so much I learned at that camp!"

"By the end of the race, we were 3mi away from Port Townsend paddling into the sunset. The clouds were low, the light of the sunset... it made it feel like I was paddling through a parking garage! I warned Rob we were aimed at a concrete column ahead!" The end of an endurance race always provides some interesting human experiences. "A couple of other paddlers said they experienced the same thing! Thankfully, after being momentarily concerned for his paddling partner, Rob was able to shake me out of it and we paddled on."

 

 

"As we neared the finish line, I could see a power button lit up on my spray skirt and thought, hey that's weird!" The team had paddled into a field of bioluminescent plankton. A set of lights illuminated their final push along the watercourse.

Team Tiktaalik crossed the finish line at 10:52:00 PM - shaving nineteen hours off of their previous time! "I credit our success to the Spam Musubi my wife prepared for us. She made a huge batch and we shared it with the other paddlers. Protein, fats, carbohydrates, shelf stable... the perfect endurance race fuel!"

"The TRAK performed very well. I felt much more stable, and didn't need a rudder. I was able to track my course through the conditions just by edging the kayak and through paddle strokes."

"Although I never capsized, there were a few moments of 'sporty conditions' as Rob describes them. I remember him calling out 'side wave!', and being picked up into the air 'Wow! Rob looks really small down there!'. The muscle memory of bracing and paddle strokes to deal with the faces was crucial."

When we asked Phil what was up next, he's looking forward to paddling around Vashon Island, and connecting with Mike Osborn who he met at surf camp, up in Everett. There's also the TRAK Owners Gathering this fall, and of course, SEVENTY48 next year.

Phil mentioned his time at the TRAK Pacific Rim Surf Camp this past May? Well here he is coming in off the beach, check out what he had to say!

 



1 Response

Mike J Osborn
Mike J Osborn

July 10, 2024

Phil is an inspiration and such a kind heart. Way To Go!!!
So happy to have met him and the the great group at TRAK HQ.

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