Tuesday, September 17, 2019

9/7/19 - Yonkers leg of the Joe Glickman Cup, plus the Yonkers Mayor's Cup

Playing catch-up a little bit today! The weekend before last was an absolutely gorgeous day for the Yonkers leg of the Joe Glickman Cup.

Sebago had too many fun things going on that day. There was this, and then there were two camping weekends, one in Greenport and one on Staten Island. Both of those sounded like fun (although it was very windy on the Friday as Hurricane Dorian was passing offshore), but I decided to stick with the races.

Joe Glickman, also known as Glicker, was a much-loved member of Sebago and the paddling community at large, especially the surfski racing world. He was a kayak racer and a very good author. If you're a paddler, there's a pretty chance you've heard of him - and even if you don't know his name specifically, you've probably heard of what I suspect is his most popular work, Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent, his excellent book about Freya Hoffmeister's circumnavigation of Australia. An amazing feat by an amazing woman, and Joe did a wonderful job of retelling her story.

Joe had a great gift for making anyone he ran into feel like a rock star, though. The last time I saw him was at the club - with Oscar Chalupsky. I'm a solid sea kayaker, but Joe did things like the Molokai Hoe, an annual race from Molokai to Oahu, and Oscar is a surfski god. So I am nowhere up with these guys. And yet Glicker, introducing me to Oscar, came up with a story about the day he ran into me out in Jamaica Bay during a tropical storm. "So I'm out there, blasting around, having a great time, and I'm thinking I've got to be the only person crazy enough to be out there, but then I see another boat and I paddle over to see who it is and it's Bonnie, and she's bobbing around in the waves -- taking pictures!"

A similarly experienced friend and I had gone out together to test ourselves out; conditions were at the lower end of tropical storm levels, the day and the water were warm, and the wind was from the south so if anything went awry we would blow towards home while we sorted things out. We actually had a great time out there and just cracked up when Glicker went tearing past us on his surfski, throwing a shaka as he went by. He was flying and went considerably farther than John and I, but we all ended up getting back to the dock at the same time, which was just as things were starting to get a bit feisty out there.  

So the story was true, but that he chose that as the story to tell when introducing me to one of the best surfski racers in the world was just so very, very, very Glicker.

Tragically, he passed away from cancer in 2015, far too young. But I think he squeezed more living and joy into his too-short life than some people do into much longer lives.

The Joe Glickman Cup was begun between the 3 oldest paddling clubs in NYC - the Sebago Canoe Club, the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and the oldest of all, the Inwood Canoe Club to remember Joe in that spirit of friendly competition and fun at which he excelled. All three clubs have a history as serious racing clubs, and all three have some serious racers who participate, but it's also fun for anyone else who might want to give it a try. The way the Cup works is that over the course of the summer, each club hosts a day. We start out with group paddles, then there are 6 races: 100 meter, 400 meters, and 800 meters, women and men. The first 3 finishers score points for their club, and at the end of the season, the club with the most points takes the cup home.

At Yonkers, the 800 meter races are also the Yonkers Mayor's Cup, with Mayor Mike Spano making the awards. I'm afraid I have no pictures of the award ceremony -- because I was in it!

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Then we feast!

The event has been going on for 4 years now. The first 2 years Sebago got the cup; last year Yonkers won. The mens' races are always pretty exciting - Sebago has some veteran racers, Yonkers has some enthusiastic young men. The first year I think the veterans pretty much mopped up, if I'm recalling correctly - then the young men really got to work on their training, and these days, you just don't know who's going to win. Especially on the longer races - the Yonkers guys have powerful sprints, but on the longer races the experience comes into play. Adding to the fun, one of Sebago's racers, Yossi, loves coaching, and loves seeing people have fun racing, and he started helping to train the Yonkers guys!

Glicker would've loved that part especially.

The women's races are not always as competitive - in fact I try to attend these partly because I have picked up a point or two for Sebago by coming in 3rd out of a field of 3 - all I had to do was find my way across the finish line. Sebago and Inwood each have a serious racer who go to as many of the events as they can; Yonkers also has some great women racers, they don't come out to the other clubs as much but they do turn out for the Yonkers races, and that can really change the outcome. So what can end up happening with the women's races, that's way more fun than the 3 person field, is a setup where there are 2 serious racers and then us more touring-type sea kayakers fighting it out for 3rd.

I did actually manage to take 3rd place in the 400 and 800 at Yonkers with that setup, with some very good competition, and was quite delighted as another reason I've been attending and racing regularly is that I've realized that doing these races is a really good way to gauge my recovery after my own bout with cancer back in the fall, winter, and spring of 2015-16. That took a good bit of the wind out of my sails. I was back on the water one month after my mastectomy in October 2015, and kept paddling all the way through chemo, but I still remember one of the first Sebago group paddles I went on in 2016 - I stopped to take pictures as the group went by, then tried to do my usual "photographer's sprint" to catch up, only to discover that high gear was simply gone! That was a bit jarring.

I haven't been super disciplined about getting back in shape, I always seem to have too much going on to just get myself out on the water for workout paddles with anything approaching regularity, but each summer I've tried to push myself a little bit farther. It's working, I'm making slow but steady progress, and doing these 3 set distances 3 times a year gives me a really good sense of that where I might otherwise be getting really aggravated with myself because I'm not getting faster fast enough to actually tell.

The first 800 meter I did, I think I just did it because it was one of those 3-racer setups. Julie and Julia dwindled into specks in the distance while I came whimpering along behind - still no high gear.

This year, high gear is definitely coming back. I'm still not racing for 1st or 2nd - but I'm also not seeing them disappear in the distance the way they did back in 2016, and I'm able to set what feels like a respectable pace and hold it steady without running out of steam.

I'm pretty happy about that.

Here are a few more pictures from the day, click on the first for a slideshow view. Want to see more, with better quality? visit Flickr.  


songbird's crazy world said...

You had a beautiful day for the event. Glad you enjoyed.

Alana said...

Great minds once again - you may recall we were both in Coney Island on Christmas Eve....this time I was in Yonkers (on September 9) but Untermyer Gardens were more my speed. I can admire you a lot for participating in such a physical type event - my participation in water sports is limited to liking to watch people in their boats.

bonnie said...

Small world! :D

Beautiful day for gardens, too. I was not familiar with the Untermyer Gardens but I just looked it up and I'm going to keep that in mind for a fun thing to do with my garden-loving friend Mandy sometime, looks lovely!