Peter Turcan

Kayak Training Blog

La Conner Sound Rowers Race

February 2, 2019

Lots of entries, mostly HPKs and OC1s. Also kids from Gig Harbor and the outrigger clubs, good to see. With Egor stroking we cruise around and just do one pick up. Weather is still, so not so cold as long as we are moving. I did not wear a hat, just long sleeve top and plastic pants over warmer bots. Race meeting and start were a bit behind schedule. I did manage to talk to Scott - the photog from Skagit Valley Herald - and he was there taking lots of pics of the start. A few fixed seats and SUP started first, then only 8 or 9 rowing boats - including Tyler/Evan in a 2x OW. Then we line up - quite a circus. Perhaps 80 boats. We decide on a center of the river start, as the tide is going down so the flow is increasing slowly.

Neither Egor nor I have paddled at all since October, and then only a couple of paddles. I haven't been training since last August, so we are faking it big time.

The start goes and we start hard, but two OC2s on either side of us threaten to converge and cut us up, so we sprint like crazy people. We hold it for a good few minutes and take the lead of this flight of boats. We have two singles wash hanging to our left, and another group is going well that started further to our right, including Brandon and Heather going super strong in a mixed HPK2. We maintain our lead for a short time, then one of the black HPKs to our right twists then capsizes - all I noted was that it was a black boat, so could be Don, but unlikely I thought. In fact Don was the second of the two on our wash, and stopped to help the wet paddler get back in their boat. Kudos to Don.

We continued on, then Brandon took the lead, with two other singles going really well on their wash, and we struggled a bit to stay on the tail. I could feel my lack of boating, and our super hard start, at this point and we faded just a tad - enough to fall off the back of the wash. We were just about out of the channel and into the Sound at this point. Brandon's group pulled 15 to 30 seconds or so ahead of us, and we had one strong HPK on our left wash. Others were close behind at this stage. We kept up a solid pace out to the turn, and I was quite impressed that we had not seized up given our lack of paddling - Egor looked quite loose and was going strong, and I focused on timing to keep the running speed up.

We stayed like this all the way out to the turn, which is now a fixed tripod - that I believe has just replaced the older green can. We don't have a good turn. The single on our wash turns tighter and gets ahead, and we have to push to get back on his wash. Brandon did not have a good turn either, and is pushing to get back to the lead HPKs - which he does in a while. We are just a minute or less back. Again we take over from the HPK single (John Mooney) and try to pull up on the lead group of three: Brandon & Heather, Jamie Klein and one kid (Jonas Ecker) going really well. Jonas is going super fast but does seem to be close to being dropped by the other two.

There is an impressive sight on the turn, the rest of this huge field of kayaks and outriggers close together in a long procession all racing out to the turn.

About halfway back the lead group goes too far left and into shallower water, and we catch up a decent amount, perhaps to withing 20 seconds or so, though we are off to the right, hopefully in deeper water. However, perhaps the lead group found some deeper water as their lead increased back up to around a minute fairly quickly - at this point I gave up any chance of regaining the group. We were still going well though, nice and fluid and not tight - a sign that swimming/skiing/erging and other cross-training does work I think.

John in his HPK took the lead for a short while, as Egor backed off a bit at this stage and rested the guns a bit. Not for long, we took the lead again in the river going back up. There is quite a strong flow now in the river, and the finish times of all racers showed this with slower than usual times. We pushed up through the current till rounding the last corner, then Egor upped our pace to a solid near-sprint and we pulled ahead of John, and we kept up this pace to cross the finish line. 4th kayak , 5th overall, not too shabby. Kevin and others finished a minute or more back on us. Jamie just pipped Brandon and Heather for first kayak place - pretty good effort.
Lay off
Take a long break from kayaking. In October 2018 started cross-training again: swimming once or twice a week, gym once or twice a week - cross-country skiing at the weekends during snowy months.

World Masters Sprints

August 14-16 2018, Montemor, Portugal

1000m heat

Arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, only to find our luggage (my paddle included) did not make the transfer at Philly. So have to wear the same stinky clothes for 48 hours. Picked the stuff up the next day. Too much driving.

Visit the race site a day before, as first day able to pick up rental boat from Nelo. Race course is pretty good, just the width of 9 lanes and little more. Buoys every 5m so easy to keep in right lane. Hydraulic starting gates that drop quickly below the water - so no false starts. Very calm too. Pickup up my Nelo Cinco and did 3 laps of the course.

Jet lag was a bitch though, really tired early afternoon, and difficult to stay motivated.

Lots of age 60-64 K1 entries, 3 full heats of nine paddlers for 1000m K1, eek. Paddlers are from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, and 32 countries in total. Almost all speaking east European languages, and hard core. Some scary man-bears, but none looking like they are in my age group. Certainly has a Worlds feel, though under-representation from English speaking countries (5 of us from the USA, 4 with East European sounding names).

Day of first 1000m heat I have to take my daughter Kylie to the airport to fly home (her work wont allow her more time off). That, along with jet lag, and I finish a tardy 5th in the first heat. 2nd through 7th go through to semi. One guy beside me capsized on start line (pond calm) but only a few goof balls at the race, mostly old guys paddling very smoothly - spent their lives paddling I think. In the semi later in the day I still dont do well - 4th, so miss the A final, put into the B final.

Next day goes much better for me. From viewing the other paddlers, they do not die on the course, too fit, but they don't tend to catch those in front, not enough power, so decide on my 1000m B final plan - take the lead early and hold it. This works well, except after taking the lead at 250m, it is a long fricking way to hold the intensity to the end. I am motivated to do this though and rotate like a wild boy to keep up the pressure, and finish first by a few boatlengths on a Polish paddler chasing me. First of the B final riff-raff will have to do!

Next to the 200m heats. Problem now is a strong headwind. First six go to semis,and there are now 4 heats of 60-64 paddlers, some looking strong. I paddle my heat strongly but not all out, in 4th place nearing the end, but push this to 3rd over the line to feel better about my paddling. Into the semis.

First three to A final, second three to B final. I was determined to try to get to A final. Sitting in patisserie eating cakes and drinking Fanta, decide on my plan. Go berserk into the headwind for 100m, demoralize the others, and then just find some way to crank out the next 100m. 

On the start line the headwind is strong, substantial waves. Plan works well though, going berserk puts me in first place, dropping to second during the next 100m cranking through the headwind with a tortured stroke. Into A final.

Next and final day. 200m finals.

First false start, I think someone sneaked to the side of the V starting gates and tried to get ahead - called back. Next start is good, I blast away but fall short in the early "berserk" portion of the race - I dont have a lead half way through as I wanted - felt I had a chance at bronze, and the way to get it was to try to win. However, I finish 5th. Solid but not stellar - not sure I warmed up my guns enough for the first 50m of the race.

All over, no hardware, but a cool t-shirt!

200m A final: start - I am in lane 1

200m A final: 100m to go

Training for World Masters sprints

Feb through July: training three times per week, sprint specific, coached by Juraj Osusky.
1000m sessions

8 x 1000m 85% effort, turning at the ends and repeating

4 x 1000m 92% effort, full return recovery

2 x 1000m 100% time trials, full warm up
500m sessions

12 x 500m 85% effort, turning at the ends and repeating

2 x 500m 100% effort, time trials, full warm up and 30 mins between trials

200m sessions

12 x 200m 92% effort, full recovery

2 x 200m 100% effort, time trials

La Conner Sound Rowers race

Feb 3rd, 2018

Get to La Conner on time, but its raining and overcast. Enter the race in Mens HPK, get my boat ready, and do a short jog to warm up. Plenty of entries, strong competition in HPK - Don, Kevin, Holm, and others I dont know. Warm up a fair bit, but at a low pace, waiting a bit too long for our start. Kayakers/Outriggers starting 2 mins or so behind the rowers.

I feel fit and loose and convince myself I can do well at this race. Lots of entries, 16 Mens HPK. Wind light, light or no rain.

Line up beside Don, and Tracy and Heather in a fast womens HPK2. Blast off the start and hold the WHPK2 wash when no-one else does, Don on my tail wash. We go hard down the river, keeping to the edge as there is a slight flood. Kid in a green boat (Jonathan, I found out later) is going very fast too, though we barge ahead when the groups merge. I hold the wash well but I can tell I am close to red-lining. I fall back onto Don's wash, and he holds the double.

Soon after though they pull ahead and its me with Jon on my wash. I quite like both my boat (light and fast) and my stroke - keeping up a good sprinters rythym, though I know others must be very close behind. As we round the bend Don and the WHPK2 pull away, but dont take the best line - too shallow. I am on Jon's wash, struggling now and then, but take the lead when he grounds. I move left to the deep water channel. With a lot of intense effort things stay this way all the way out to the turn buoy, and the small ocean swells are not scary but do make for some odd angles and push the boat around a little.

Don, about 1 minute ahead, loses the WHPK2 wash and we close a bit on him coming up to the turn. I take a characteristicly very tight turn on the buoy, and pull after Don following the deep water channel. Change leads a bit with Jon. Then Don makes a mistake and pulls too far left into the shallow water, and we gain some more. I do most of the leading at this stage and pull up to within 5 boatlengths or so. Then I see another boat on our wash - a father and daughter double going very smoothly (Steve and Abby). They take the lead and again I struggle just to keep up on the stern wash.

We head up the channel, I stay on the stern wash though know this is the worst place to be for a sprint finish. Don is to the right of the double, Jon and myself to the left. Following closely the bank of the river. Then I sprint a bit and up onto Jon's side-wash - I am tired but at least in the right position for the finish. Then I make my stupid mistake of the race, the bridge looks closer than it is. I sprint super hard - over the washes and take the lead by a boatlength over Don and Jon. I am blasting full out - anaerobic sprint. I hold this lead for quite a bit but then the reality of how far the bridge is away dawns, and I realise I cannot hold it - I bail and sink back to third position, just ahead of the mixed double, as Don and Jon keep sprinting and finish in that order. Doh!. If I had just waited a few seconds more I might have taken it, or perhaps backed off to an aerobic sprint. Timing is everything though.

Good race for me: good fitness, speed and decisions, except for the last one! So close.

Congrats to Evan/Tyler for overall first, Tracy/Heather for first kayak, Don for first HPK, and Jon, Steve and Abby for going so well.

Training week Monday 29th Jan - Friday Feb 2nd


Gym. Run 16 mins on mill, then usual weights.


Try yoga again after taking a years break. Try the Be Luminous studio near Amazon. Supposed to be "warm" room but actually it is hot. I sweat like a pig, and the session is too busy, more about intensity than quality, and of little value to me.

Need to find another class.


Kayaking. Only Steve Small joins. 12 Km fast in the dark with a south breeze, enough to make north end of Green Lake sloppy. Resort to horseshoeing after a dodgy second lap. Average speed for me: 11.1 kph.

Gym. Rowing erg, 16 minutes, average 500m time is  2.00.2. Usual weights/machines.

Training week Monday Jan 22nd - Sunday Jan 28th

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

R&R after ski race.


Gym. Guns still sore from all that poling at the ski race.


Kayaking. With Egor,  do a 12 Km fast. Average around 11.0 kph. Cold, dark after first lap.


Kayaking. 12 Km, but not great, speed slows with each lap. Feeling tight and need to find some yoga to loosen up again.

Mazama to Winthrop Skate Ski race

Jan 20th

Poor quality snow hardened by cold temps. Expecting icy, fast on straights and downhills, slippy uphills. 120+ skiers at the start line, 39 in our category (one day citizens skate race). Quite a few kids without numbers skating as a tour.

At the self-positioning start I position myself near the back. As it turns out, not near the back enough - overtaken by 10 or so in the first few kilometers. My skating is decent - V2s (pushing on both skate moves) on the flat, V1s (pushing on one side, stepping on the other) up the hills. Most racers disappear out of sight of me pretty quickly though. One of the kids overtook me near the first steep downhill, he crashes and splays over the track, tries to get up, no luck, I run over his skis, anguished cries heard, but I stay upright on the hairpin. A high point of the race for me.

Get to the first feeding station (10Km in) and guzz down some warm Gatorade. Continue into the hilly section, very low hills at first. Going downhill in the icy conditions bit intimidating. I manage to V1 up all the hills without taking any breaks, though I do stumble to a near halt 3 times. I am way behind everyone in front, and no-one on my tail. Time-trialing really. V1 up the hills, then double-polling to recover my breath before the next.

Finally up the last big uphill. Then comes the very steep downhill, with two or more serious hairpins. I go into snow plough position but still scream down (reach 32.2 kph on this descent) screaming round the gouged out corners just staying upright. Phew. No falls this year.

On the final flatter 10Km I am still on my own, and race both V2 then as this gets too tiring a faster V1 - my right shoulder is complaining of all the pushing. I keep up closer to my goal of 15 kph. I can feel the wax losing on the left ski (my push ski in V1) but not so much in the right ski.

Skate all the way to the finish - not double polling in the tracks as I have done in the past as I have been so pooped.
Skated quite well (for me) but my time is still well below my goal of 2 hours (it is 2 hours 7 minutes) - not great.

I finished 22nd of the 39 - not too shabby but my average speed of 14.0 kph is still well short of the 15.0 kph to get a time under 2 hours in a 30 Km race.

December 2017/January 2018 training

Decide, with Juraj's encouragement, to keep kayaking through the coldest and darkest days of the year. Tough to go out alone in the dark, but works OK with two on Green Lake. Disorientating at first, but get used to it after a couple of Km.

Going out once or twice per week. Usually with Juraj, doing 12/14 km distance pieces. Average speeds usually no faster than 11.2 kph, fastest is 11.4 kph.
Skate Skiing

Skiing one day at the weekends. Iron Horse trail - for work on V2 skating along the flats, or Cabin Creek for V1 skating up all those hills.
Cross training

Some time in the gym. Some cycling to work (10 miles each way) but thinking of bailing on this - raining and dark makes a collision with a car all too possible - this would end everything so need to bail, or change my cycle route to work to be along trails.

Sound Rowers AGM 2017

December 2, 2017

Sound Rowers agrees to a small amount of sponsorship for my efforts to race in the 60 year old events at World Sprint Masters.

Training plan

December 1, 2017

I race one or two skate ski cross-country events in the winter. I suck at it, but it is very aerobic and great cross training, not to mention the fun of being out in the sun and the snow.
The plan is to train with the young (?) studs at Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club - including Juraj Osusky - a very talented and natural kayak sprinter, Egor - a Russian with only 2 speeds (blast and pooped), Don Kiesling and Jason Cross  when they are in town.

First step is to look the part. Hair coloring plays a key role in this. And some cool training gear and weight training to keep those guns in shape.

2018 Objective

Sound Rowers

Racing K1s in the open water events run by Sound Rowers was exciting, but I am bringing this to an end - too exposed water for such narrow boats. Under pressure from my training buddy Don, I have purchased a second hand surf ski. Never really liked them before but I do like the lightness and speed of the Allwave.

This is me in 2016 racing K1 at Elk river, in a light chop.

World Sprint Masters 2018

The World Sprints for both open and masters are in Portugal in 2018. Seems like a nice place to visit, and as i have just turned 60, seems like the best chance I am likely to have of getting a decent result.  

As a young man, my best results all came from 500m sprinting. 200m had not been introduced then, and I could not maintain my speed for 1000m. Back in the day when K1s had minimum width restrictions, and paddles were not wings, my best 500m K1 time was 1minute 56 seconds. Times were 10 seconds slower than they are now, the Olympics were won in that period in 1 minute 46 seconds. Not until sprint boats got narrower and wing paddles widely used did winning sprint times drop below 1 minute 40 seconds.

I am not even sure what distances 60 year olds race at Worlds, though maybe 200m, 500m, 1000m.


I did not race much in 2017. Just the Guano Rocks race near Wenatche in October. i did canoe down the Green River in Utah, a solo 6 day canoe-camping trip through the remote and hot Canyonlands.