While we are encouraging people to participate in this race, we caution you to come prepared with an appropriate skill set to handle extreme conditions. How safe is the race route, is based entirely on your personal skill level. Over judging your ability level can put yourself in danger and compromise the safety of others. Before entering this race ask yourself the following questions.
Your Skill Set
Do I have the skill level to handle the conditions? You will be paddling in 1 metre, following seas, with potential tail winds around 25 knots. If you have never paddled in these conditions, testing yourself on race day is not a good idea. The most challenging conditions will be reached after 1.5 – 2 hrs hours of racing and your ability to cope with these conditions will diminish. Ask a more experience surfski paddler to give you an honest assessment of your skill level. Spend the summer preparing your skill set for this race. While more than likely the wind and sea state will fall into the above stated range there is always the possibility for more extreme conditions.
Can you perform a competent solo surfski remount in rough conditions? You should have a bomb-proof remount from both sides of your surfski, and have practiced it in strong winds and rough seas. Thinking you can do it doesn’t count for anything! You should have practiced and performed a rough water remount many times before entering any downwind race. Don’t rely on the fact that you did a remount once in a previous life-time. Remounting is a skill that should be practiced every year.
Required Safety Equipment
The Squamish River and many of its tributaries are glacially fed. This means the water is extremely cold. Many athletes have low levels of body fat, not counting Oscar, which makes them extra susceptible to the effects of cold-water immersion.
Keep alert for traffic. Freighters run up and down Howe Sound at a speed of about 15 – 20 knots. As you approach the end of Squamish Harbour there will be lots of kite and sail boarders crossing your path.
Abandoning the Race
If you find conditions too challenging there are only a few locations you can safely abandon the race and access the road. Once past Britannia Beach road access is very difficult. Anybody abandoning the race must notify race officials immediately.