The Everglades Challenge click here to read or make an observation about this  article
by Chuck Leinweber - Harper, Texas - USA
Photos by Chuck Leinweber
Bill Paxton - Mineapolis, Minnesota - USA
Helen Snell - Tallahassee, Florida - USA

Part1-The Start - Part2-The Race

Read Gary Blankenship's EC Report

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This is a photo-essay which is meant to be a companion piece to the article I wrote for Small Craft Advisor magazine. They were impressed enough to put my mug on the cover, but I think you should get a subscription anyway. It really is a great magazine.

(click images for larger views)

Friday

Chief (AKA Steve Isaac) checks our boat for safety gear. Though they make a big deal about not being responsible if we "die out there", the Watertribe folks do try to keep the unprepared out of the race.

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Matt Layden, a former Everglades Challenge winner, brought his brand new boat, "Enigma", to race in the Ultimate Florida Challenge, a 1500 mile, month-long race around Florida.

 
Our friends Bill and Nancy Paxton came all the way from the twin cities to watch the start of the race and take some of these pictures. Bill is the organizer of the Lake Pepin messabout.

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Graham Byrnes (left), designer and captain of a B&B Core Sound 17, poses beside his baby. He and crewman, Fred (center), won the race. He is proprietor of B&B Yacht Designs. That's Chief on the right.

 
Matt tries his little boat on for size. We met him only once during the race: it was at Stump Pass on Saturday just at Dusk. As fast as we had sailed that day we were surprized to see him. He passed us and we never saw him again.

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With some help from bystanders, we got Gary's Frolic2 off the trailer onto the sand, then we practiced moving it down the beach to the starting point - the high tide mark.

 
The obligatory film crew showed up Friday afternoon as we were making last minute adjustments to the boat. Gary, a dedicated racer, did not get distracted but kept right at his task.

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Saturday

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The film crew (right of center) was out bright and early Saturday as the racers all made final preparations.

 
If it looks early, it is! Gary and I get ready for the start of the race.

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But first there has to be a group picture. Can you pick out Team Duckworks?

 
BANG! The starting gun goes off and so do the catamarans and the Core Sound 17.

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Meanwhile, Team Duckworks works on getting their boat to the water.

 
Experience has shown that PVC rollers alone will not work on sand, so we employ 2x2 pine "rails" to roll on. it takes some setting up but it works.

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Success! Now all we have to do is gather all the rollers and rails up and stow them. The rules require we carry all launching gear.

 
Well, we also have to set the sails. Why didn't we do that before the race like everyone else? Good thing it is a three hundred mile event.

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Were off! Ok, we aren't the first ones off the beach, but we aren't the last either. Dave, our friend in the Sea Pearl left well after us but beat us to the finish line.

 
Heading out into Tampa Bay, toward the Gulf of Mexico, we have high hopes. We feel like we have a chance of winning, but we are focused on finishing.

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On to Part2-The Race...