cheekee challenge

Ron White is a very longtime SA’er, CYC Mackinac safety guru and previous owner/racer of the oft-upside down, heavily modified F-31 trimaran Cheekee Monkee.  And now he’s on a new trimaran adventure – one that’s far less likely to end in capsize or tragedy.  Here’s his story:

 I’m almost outta here!  I leave from Indiana for the Tampa Bay area for the start of the 2013 Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile race from Tampa Bay to Key Largo along the West coast of FL, across Florida Bay and finishing at Key Largo.  The Race starts at Fort Desoto Beach at 7:00 am on Saturday morning (03/02).  You can track the fleet here. You also might want to wander around the site a bit and if you want some entertainment, read the Race Rules and Warning.

My tribe name and my boat name are SwampMonkee, which started out as an 18’ Kevlar racing sea kayak weighing 34 lbs.  I’ve added floats for stability, a carbon sailing rig, a leeboard (the black carbon thingy) so I can sail upwind, and numerous other modifications as well.  Final boat weight with sails and mods is 52 lbs, which I am extremely pleased with.

In addition to sailing expertise this race also requires expertise in paddling.  To that end I started training in April of last year paddling a surfski and then my sea kayak, and logged in excess of 300 hours by Thanksgiving.  I lost 25 lbs (within 4 lbs of what I weighed my senior year in college) in the process and am stronger and more fit than ever.

The race has three checkpoints that you are required to sign in at.  The first is North of Boca Grande and the second two are on the outskirts of the Everglades.  Other than the checkpoints you choose your own route which can include the Gulf of Mexico, the Intercoastal Waterway and inside the Everglades (I hope to stay outside the Everglades unless the conditions on the Gulf are crap).  Every bit of the course is a challenge….and that is the point.  You are required to carry certain minimum equipment including camping gear.  My total gear load as about 40 lbs (I’m going to weigh everything tonight and see if there is anything else I can get rid of).  I will also carry 7.5 liters of water.  You are also allowed to buy anything along the way that you might need, but I plan to stay relatively self sufficient so when I do hit shore I can sleep and not shop.

Other often asked questions:

-How long this will take?….I dunno!  They give you 8 days to complete the course and my hotel reservation in Key Largo is for Wednesday the 6th.  It could be more or less.

-What will you eat?   Freeze dried hot meals and lots of various high carb stuff, and I’ll start with a couple of fresh sub sandwiches & more along the way.

-Do you have GPS?  Yes, 2 chartplotters and a GPS watch

Can I follow you online? Yes, see link above.  I have a Spot transmitter.

Where will you sleep?  Wherever I stop along the way, I have a self sufficient supply of camping gear.

Where will you pee?  Anywhere I want.

How many people are doing this?  About 95 entries, some solo and some doublehanded.

What’s it like at night?  Pretty much like daytime, just darker.

And  a few people I need to thank:

Meade Gougeon – for tremendous encouragement, advice, cheerleading and hospitality, and really great glue!  Meade at 74 is competing in his 4th EC this year.  Tribe name = YellowThing

John Lindahl – Extraordinary Builder of all things carbon.  John was a huge help with the wing/floats and the leeboard assembly.  He took my ideas and improved on them and built them.

My Wife Kathy –  For allowing me to do this stuff and still love me and give me encouragement.

Best regards,

Ron White