This post comes a bit late, but I have had a lot going on! At the end of March, I went to Panama to compete in the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race, which took me through almost the full length of the Panama Canal (minus the locks). The history of the Panama in general and the Canal Zone in particular is very interesting and complex, and I won't try to gloss over that here… rather I'd refer you to other sources. However, I will tell you about the race, which was a unique and exciting experience.
After arriving, our team was able to get in a practice run in our boat (Perserverence). It was my first visit to Panama, so they took me to do a bit of sight-seeing (here I am at the Miraflores locks, below at the Bridge of the Americas).
Day 1 started on the North side (Atlantic side) with a 45+ minute "sprint" up to the first set of locks (Gatun). Day 2 was an approximately three hour "jaunt" through Gatun lake amidst the wake of enormous cargo ships, including the Panamx-type. Day 3 was kicked off with a 10 minute sprint, then a paddle back to the starting point to begin the second-longest portion of the race (about 1:20) through "the cut" and up to the Pedro Miguel locks. The grand finale was a 15-minute sprint from the Miraflores locks to (almost) the Pacific Ocean.
Being at "sea level" (and the fact that sea level is entirely different on one side of Panama and the other!) through the canal was really amazing. The locks are HUGE and entirely impressive – especially considering when they were built! 2014 will be the 100 year anniversary, and work is underway to create new locks which will allow even larger vessels to pass through.
As far as the race went, our team was solid – we started out and ended in 9th place in the open, co-ed class (out of 21 boats). We placed 11th out of all 50 boats in the open (adult) division. The race started as a boy scout event, and so the "trophy boats" are those of the youth teams. They have no rudder on their boats and must have a certain portion of the hull which is made from a dugout log in the traditional fashion.
Here are a few pictures of us from the race. You can see a ton more from Trois (photographers). Questions or comments? Let me know!
First stretch: 49:36 Lake: 3:09:49
sprint before cut: 10:32 cut: 1:20:30 final sprint: 15:19
Total time: 5:45:30 Place in class (Open-Coed) 9th out of 21.
And coming soon…. Tough Mudder!