That was fun - especially if you weren't swimming! The 10th annual Bente Weber Memorial (a Tristar member who died of cancer in 2000) Channel Swim brought out 130 people who took on not only the 2.5 miles/4.2km but did it in reverse. Normally, the swim is from Cockleshell Beach, St. Kitts to Oaulie Beach, Nevis, but because the Nevis Island Administration put in $10K of sponsorship money, they decided to have the swim end in Nevis so that island could reap the benefits of the after party for a change. Fair enough.
We all met up at the Lion Rock Bar on Cockleshell where last minute gluttons-for-punishment, I mean swimmers, joined up and psyched themselves up for the event.
Michael & I hopped on Mr X's fishing boat, while others boarded his powercat, the Shiggidy Xpress.
Rescuers and cheerleaders were out there in dinghies, kayaks, boats, and even on paddle boards.
The coast guard was all set.
And they're off!
We had to go to another dock and pick up a couple of photographers and laughed when kayaks from a different operator (not sure who) showed up 20 minutes late (and that's after the race started about 20 minutes late). They're loading some onto a boat.
Look how far out the swimmers were by then.
It was a bit swelly, but not as choppy as last year when we had one heck of a time spotting the swimmers. Of course, the current was against them this year, so most thought this route was tougher.
Now this is where most of my pictures become of water. I knew there was a swimmer in there somewhere... These two were taking much better shots of the action for Channel 8 Nevis t.v.
One gentleman was nice enough to interview me, but oddly they don't show Nevis t.v. in St. Kitts, and until recently, didn't show St. Kitts t.v. (ZIZ) in Nevis, so I'm not sure I'll ever see it if it airs. I'll keep an eye out on Facebook, their livestream broadcast, and YouTube. Now back to the real stars of the show...most of the time, we were following the two swimmers in the lead.
We had to make a quick detour to lob a fender at the Shiggidy Express. Good catch Richard!
This kayak flipped twice, causing the rescuers to be rescued, and we heard 2 or 3 other kayaks outright sank. I think that was a first.
Most swimmers were quite spread out, but here was a bunch together.
I wasn't sure about the placement of this buoy, but it and the Hobie made a pretty shot.
We were getting there - keep swimming!
There's the finish line beckoning, beckoning...
Here he comes! Notice St. Kitts waaaaaay behind him.
And he's in and looking strong!
The MC, who was great, interviewed a Mr. Brian Harts all the way in from Pennsylvania who finished in 1:08.26 (stats are on Tristar's Facebook page). You can tell this race was tougher, as last year's finishing time was 58.09.
Second place was a mere 3 minutes behind and was Sachin Sankat, a 14-year old from Trinidad.
While that was impressive, an 11-year old from Antigua came in 4th or 5th for the males.
There was quite a gap between 2nd and 3rd place
and then 4 women came in lumped together 12 minutes after the winning male (at 1:20+) - one from New York (wahoo!).
It took awhile but a Kittitian finally represented (most had been from neighboring islands, Ross University, St. Kitts Monitoring Network, or the U.S.). A few swimmers later a Nevisian came in, but I missed him.
Here's Bob Beach, the oldest swimmer at 81 and finishing in 2 hours.
The youngest was 8 (Christopher Kyle) from Antigua, coming in 24 minutes later. The poor kid was shivering and looked a little overwhelmed by all the attention.
There were a surprising # of young'uns from 8-15, most from Trini or Antigua. Good job guys - I think this was the youngest female (14).
I believe this dad swam this with his life-jacketed 5-year old.
And this woman swam the race pregnant...again. The last time she swam it she was also pregnant. She's due with this future swimmer in May.
Our friends made it across the finish line, most looking exhausted (Kat was pretty sure her tongue was swollen from all the saltwater she gulped). Go Ryan, Mimi, and Prithy!
Remember when I told you a kayak overturned...twice (that we knew of). Guess who it was?
Don't try to call him, his phone doesn't work (rumor has it his car keys might be at the bottom of the sea). Sheesh. Then there was food, but they ran out before 1/3 of the swimmers got through the line. That left some unhappy hungry people (who paid $50US to enter the race, meal included - more than we paid for the Barbados marathon) and leaving a weird mishmash of grub. (Note to organizers - don't let people serve themselves and don't let people go up for seconds before others have had a chance to eat.)
Another suggestion to the resort on Oualie Beach - offer beverage specials to swimmers and spectators - expecting people to pay over $8EC for a beer during a special event is ridiculous. Last year Reggae Beach Bar & Grill had a BBQ with all kinds of specials and donated some of the proceeds to charity. People watching was free and fun at least. This guy spent more time trying to keep his pants up than officiating.
Is swimming with a cap on like this in a channel known to have sharks nice?
Speaking of which, I'm not aware of anyone seeing sharks this time around (last year a few people caught a glimpse of a hammerhead). Mr. X had seen a whale a couple of days ago, but not today. There was a leatherback turtle sighting, lots of starfish, a few sting rays, and even some eagle rays though.
By now, almost 4 hours had passed and people were lining up to go back.
It was almost noon (remember it started around 8:20am) so the award ceremony needed to get started, but there were still 2 people out there determined to finish. The second to last, happy, swimmer came in to a rousing applause.
Here comes the last one with a Coast Guard escort (the person in the dinghy had a long day too).
You can't say she didn't have everyone's attention.
I'm not sure how long that person next to her (on left) had swam along with her, but how cool was that that he gave her moral support like that?
Wahoo! Cheer! Horn and whistle blowing! Give her the claps!
Finally, the trophy award ceremony (except that the 1st place female finisher was long gone).
They went for a group shot, but it was hard to get everyone. The two with the gold trophies got a special shout out for accomplishing something in relation to the OECS open water swimming championships.
Time to take the kayaks back. Everybody hold hands or paddles!
The Shiggidy Express was pretty packed too considering this was the second trip (first one also full).
And just like that the beach was pretty empty (I'm sure the guests of the resort were relieved).
Then we hopped on Mr. X's boat and headed back to Cockleshell, full throttle fulfilling all our needs for speed. Yeehaw!
The guys at St. Kitts Water Safaris were hard at work putting their kayaks away.
We were happy to see cheap beer again.
Hard to believe a bunch of people just swam aaaaaalll the way over there.
Good job to everyone from the organizers to the participants to the sponsors to the cheering section. Kudos to the photographers, reporters, MC, DJ and all the others who had a hand in the event. I give credit to the kayakers, who had to tread water for hours while they stuck with their swimmers. Give yourselves a high five!
Michael managed to lose his camera (currently locked up Lion Rock bar - he is sooooo lucky) so who knows what pictures he has, but if a part II is necessary, I'll tack it on. Bill Drake, a Nevisian photographer, took some great shots too (Facebook) - much better than mine. Nevis Pages has lots too.
Michael & I were famished by the time we got home and managed to get into an argument over how the cabbage should be cut for coleslaw. I say thin, long slices; he insists on thick pieces which later ended up in little bite-sized pieces, making neither of us happy so neither of us ate it. Ah, 22 years of marriage...
If that wasn't enough for you, the event was part of a larger week of activities, including the Pink Lily 5K (for breast cancer) Wednesday and the triathlon this coming Saturday. We thought we'd be attending the St. Kitts battle reenactment, but they changed the days without telling anyone. Note the "battle" will take place on Thursday & Friday (which means I can't go unless I find someone with a car who's going).