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Deception Pass Dash 2009

Deception Pass Dash (DPD) was much more fun last year! Don’t get me wrong, I still had a great time out there racing with 150+ paddlers! However, I’m not a racer, so the added dynamic of challenging conditions makes the race that much more fun. And the race this year was as calm as could be, an abnormality for the location.

When I first learned about the DPD it was billed as a challenging competition with a race against currents and potentially rough conditions to make it more difficult. If you aren’t familiar with Deception Pass, it is a great place to go play in currents. The two passes are narrow so when the current is at max you can get really fast currents, easily 7 knots, with standing waves, eddies, and all kinds of fun conditions.

The start of this race occurs just before the currents change directions. You have approximately 37 minutes to get through the first pass before the current changes directions. The slower you paddle, the more likely you’ll have to rely on eddies or fight current to get through. Last year there was a rather strong current to fight and I had to work through the eddies in order to get through. This year, despite being near the end of the pack, many of the paddlers were going straight up the middle without a struggle. You can never be 100% certain of what the currents will be like, but there was no challenge in this segment.

Everyone made it through the pass, around Strawberry Island, and back through Canoe Pass no problem. Coming back through Canoe Pass the conditions were really calm, no waves at all, and only a boil or two of water pushing up in areas. Last year there were several standing waves to plow through and boils to push you all around, it was much more of a challenge, also making it a lot more fun.

The reality is that I’m not a racer, and this was likely a racer’s dream conditions for a race through the pass. But I really like the added challenge of dealing with rough conditions when attempting to finish the race. Last year, nearly 1/3 of the paddlers didn’t finish because the conditions were so rough. Seriously, the most turbulent part of the entire race this year was at the very beginning; it was so choppy from all the paddlers taking off that I was getting pushed every which way. Once everyone had spread out the remainder of the course was rather calm.

Since I was racing I didn’t take any pictures, but you can see many fabulous photos taken by Nancy and her husband at http://www.ramblinlamb.com/2009-dpd/