California Dreaming (** Rambo Video **)

Tuesday, 09 August 2011 19:40 | Written by  Barry Lewin
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Barry Lewin racing under the Golden Gate Bridge Barry Lewin racing under the Golden Gate Bridge Credits: Barry Lewin and Rambo

The perks of paddler on tour are many: meeting new people; catching up with friends from all corners of the globe... All after the same thrill of a crack downwind run, a hard dice and (my favourite) paddling in unique places.

California Dreamin'

This is my third visit to the US Surfski Champs and the experience of San Francisco has opened my eyes to different lifestyles and cultures. The city is a mixing pot with its roots strongly entrenched in hippie culture which leaves its influences in everything you can see and touch. 

The paddlers here are as unique as their amazing city with people from very different walks of life coming together into a hardcore tight-nit group who love ‘downwind’. I have made many friends here over the years and still love coming back to experience the passion for paddling and the open sea here.

Living with Carter

One of those friends is a freak ultra-distance athlete: Carter Johnson. He has set two world 24 hour paddling records for flat water and moving water (i.e. down river) and he’s planning for the one he doesn’t have: in the sea. 

Carter’s hospitality is awesome. I’m not sure if he is just stoked to have some paddling company or if he likes hundreds of people on his couch but the novelty of the home stay on his house boat is great.

It’s into day 3 of the trip now and have had a good time so far. I landed after 24 hours flying and was taken straight to do a downwind from Fort Baker to Berkeley.  [Editor: the hospitality of these people is legendary.  In my first 36 hours I'd done two 20km downwind paddles, and a paddle under the gate... awesome!]

Luckily I have got into a good sleeping pattern quite quickly and had a great rest day on Saturday. This is what we get up to here when we’re not paddling:


Wavechaser Downwind

Sunday was race day with the first race of my tour: the Wavechaser downwind.

The race is billed as a warm up for the US Surfski Champs next week and in an effort to understand the course a little better than in the past I have come a little early to spend some time in the hectic currents in the bay.

Golden Gate

Paddling under the “Golden Gate” is something that will stay with me forever.

Warming up under the monstrosity certainly is awe-inspiring and I couldn’t help getting a fright now and again looking up.

The race was a relaxed vibe. My host Carter Johnson and his doubles partner Robin Graham pulled the bunch out to the turn buoy into a strong current. The going was slow and frustrating. Dawid commented that we should start a movement simply named, and I quote, “upwind is kak!”. I think every surfski paddler would buy a t-shirt with that slogan any day!

Wavechaser Downwind

Heading past the south pier of the Golden Gate Bridge (that's DeAnne Hemmens leading that group)

Wavechaser Downwind

The water is really gnarly under the bridge, stirred up by the strong currents

Our three boats turned together and traded runs back under the gate and towards Angel Island. We crossed a massive shipping lane and at one point Dawid paddled over and we had a little chat on which way round a ship we should go. Luckily it turned right towards the city.

Wavechaser Downwind

Carter Johnson/Robin Graham pulled Barry Lewin and Dawid Mocke to the turning buoy

Barry Lewin

Barry Lewin heading downwind

Dawid Mocke

But Dawid Mocke had the right line...

Taking the right line

In the end it came down to line into the finish and Dawid had a way better line to the South to come for the win. The double got in just ahead of me, all of us about 30 sec apart. Was great to spend some time on the course and get my bearings

Check out my Garmin Connect data:

Rambo's Video

That legend of a Aussie, Rambo, is back in San Fran to record the US Surfski Champs in glorious High Definition video...!  Here's his warm up...

Downwind - Fort Baker to Berkeley from Ocean Sports Media on Vimeo.


PosBoat #FirstLastBoat TypeDivisionTimeFinish
1 26 Dawid Mocke SK OP 01:16:20 1st Surfski Open Men
2 58 Carter Johnson DB SK DB SK 01:16:30 1st Double Surfski
2 58 Robin Graham DB SK DB SK 01:16:30 1st Double Surfski
3 27 Barry Lewin SK OP 01:16:50 2nd Surfski Open Men
4 46 Patrick Hemmens SK MS 01:22:35 1st Surfski Master Men
5 1 Dave Jensen SK MS 01:22:43 2nd Surfski Master Men
6 41 DJ Jacobson SK OP 01:24:17 3rd Surfski Open Men
7 48 Brent Reitz SK MS 01:24:37 3rd Surfski Master Men
8 70 Craig Tanner SK MS 01:25:45  
9 43 Austin Kieffer SK OP 01:26:12  
10 45 Brian Kummer SK MS 01:26:14  
11 32 Kenny Howell SK MS 1:26:24:36  
12 30 Mike McNulty SK MS 1:26:24:94  
13 52 Steve Kaspar SK GM 01:26:58 1st Surfski Golden Master Men
14 64 John Dye SK MS 01:28:16  
15 36 Vineet Buch SK OP 01:28:31  
16 34 Bob Lambrose SK MS 01:28:41  
17 65 Omar Manansala OC1 OP 01:29:19 1st OC1 Open Men
18 55 DeAnne Hemmens SK W 01:29:22 1st Surfski Women
19 63 Billy Bates OC1 MS 01:29:41 1st OC1 Master Men
20 40 Jeff Schwing SK MS 01:30:25  
21 37 Kevin Cullinan SK MS 01:30:38  
22 31 Jim Micheaels SK MS 01:31:02  
23 29 Kristen Podolak SK W 01:32:06 2nd Surfski Women
24 28 Joe Naholowa'a OC1 OP 01:32:09 2nd OC1 Open Men
25 71 Michael Ng OC1 MS 01:33:13 2nd OC1 Master Men
26 73 Stephen Sakai OC1 OP 01:33:30 3rd OC1 Open Men
27 66 Nicholas Goulden SK MS 01:34:02  
28 57 Kevin McHugh OC1 OP 01:34:38  
29 69 Frank Peronetto SK MS 01:34:43  
30 44 Ed Visser SK GM 01:36:19 2nd Surfski Golden Master Men
31 67 Hep Ingham OC1 MS 01:36:31 3rd OC1 Master Men
32 49 Dean Alvarez OC1 OP 01:37:20  
33 38 Doug Kidder OC1 MS 01:37:38  
34 39 Graham Weerts SK OP 01:40:17  
35 61 Mike Staninec DB SK DB SK 01:41:56 2nd Double Surfski
35 61 Ken Kortkamp DB SK DB SK 01:41:56 2nd Double Surfski
36 62 Tom Derrah OC1 MS 01:42:57  
37 35 Mike Gregory SK GM 01:43:00 3rd Surfski Golden Master Men
38 50 Nick Engebretson OC1 OP 01:48:09  
39 47 Terry Newbert OC1 GM 01:48:30 2nd OC1 Golden Master
40 51 Johnny Verive OC1 OP 01:49:49  
41 68 Judy Jensen SK W DNF  
42 42 Jumbo Williams SK GM DNF  

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