My husband did a blog a few months back talking about the reasons why he Gemini's....He wrote about how we started doing some races on the Gemini and about how he was enjoying spending time with me but really I think he just liked being the boss on the water:) We ended up doing a good number of races this season on Maui, Oahu and Kauai which were really fun, but the icing on the cake was being able to do the Maui to Molokai this year with EPIC conditions.
The M2M forecast this year looked amazing and it did not disappoint. Kai and I had a comfortable start with the rest of the OC2 teams as well as the women. We were able to get on some great bumps right off the bat. Coming through Pailolo was unreal as Kai was all over the creation connecting us from bump to bump. Things settled in by the Kamalo bouy and we really started chasing. We were able to get up, over and into bumps well ahead of what I am used to looking at. About half way to the wharf, just past my parents house, it really opened up and there were some bombers. The troughs between these things were massive and it took some serious intense paddling to get on one of these but oh baby the reward of coming down one of those bombs was absolutely PRICELESS. It was a good combination of ear to ear smiles and breathing. We finished the race as the first OC2 team and the epic conditions helped us break the OC2 record. Hands down the most fun I have ever had paddling. I GEMINI to have days like the M2M and priceless memories with my husband.
I asked Kai if I could write this blog because I wanted to share why I GEMINI...
As I just described above I'm sure we can all agree that GEMINI-ing (this is a new verb I just made up) can be tons of fun and a great way to spend quality time with the ones you love but what I have realized is that GEMINI-ing has been the best learning tool to becoming a better paddler. Im no fool to not take advantage of hours on the water with Kai and not learn a thing or two from him:)
I GEMINI...to LEARN. As much as I was having so much fun doing M2M on the GEMINI I couldn't help but have lesson after lesson on how to surf right in front of me. I am a better paddler after spending the spring GEMINI-ing with Kai. Here are the highlights of what I have learned this year.
TECHNIQUE - paddling in front on the Gemini allowed Kai tons of time to critique my technique. I have a long way to go but he was able to remind me to lean in on my right side (opposite the ama) and drop my shoulder. He also reminded me to bend at my hips and keep my top arm quiet. When you're paddling a flat race for 2+ hours and getting tired it was great to have someone reminding you of the small technique fixes that truly make a difference.
SURF - I get out on the OC1 for training, but really still consider myself novice at surfing. GEMINI-ing with Kai has really taught me about recognizing wind, swell and current directions in order to form a strategy for the type of surf you are in. With Kai steering I could visually see how we would easily get on a small runner heading one direction and then use that speed to drop into a large (harder to get into) bump heading another direction. I learned about quartering and recognized how he constantly had us getting on bumps in one direction but surfing the bump in another direction. The other thing that is so awesome about GEMINI-ing is that it forces your field of vision to expand ahead of you. When I am in my OC1 I am looking ahead 15yds or so. On the GEMINI with an extra motor you need to be looking 30yds out so you can chase down and get to those bumps. When we first started GEMINI-ing I would try to look ahead and guess which bumps Kai would want to chase. He would do a fair share of talking to me and telling me which ones and when to chase. By the time we did M2M we were in much better sync. After months of GEMINI-ing with Kai I was beginning to pick up and see which bumps were worth chasing...priceless!!
CHASING - Okay so my definition of "chasing bumps" was a little different than Kai's definition of "chasing bumps" :) A slight difference to say the least. I quickly realized I was simply jogging to bumps and not chasing. Being on the GEMINI allowed me to paddle at an intensity that definitely took some getting used to. There is a reason why top paddlers are ahead of the pack and I am a firm believer that a large part of it is simply their decision making to chase EVERY SINGLE BUMP. The GEMINI taught me to set a new level of chasing that I now practice on my OC1. It really is hard to understand until your in a canoe with someone chasing. I have a new definition of "chasing bumps" and am extremely thankful to have the proper definition now.
EFFICIENCY - A big thing I learned while paddling the GEMINI with Kai was efficiency. Being able to chase when we needed to chase and conserve your energy when we are on a bump. Kai is constantly reminding me to hold on as were coming down or into a bump, partially to conserve energy but also to not come to far down the bump and rush into the trough. Being on the GEMINI with Kai allowed me to feel the amount of pressure needed to get onto bumps and not over paddle. I haven't done any really long races but I can only imagine the importance of staying efficient with your energy.
ANTICIPATION - the last thing that stands out in my mind as a big learning lesson is anticipation. Prior to spending time on the Gemini most of my chasing was more reactive than anticipatory. The more time I spent GEMINI-ing the easier it was for me to identify how Kai would position us in the perfect spot in anticipation for a good bump. Being in the right spot made getting on a bump so much easier. I feel as though I am better at getting my canoe in the correct spot in anticipation of a good bump.
Wow this ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated but I really wanted to share my experience of why I GEMINI...:)
I GEMINI to LEARN!!! It helps when your Gemini partner is Kai Bartlett HAHA. Thank you Kai for your patience and communication in the canoe. I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am learning on the Gemini.