11 GREAT BAY MASTERS CONQUER NUBBLE LIGHTHOUSE OPEN WATER RACE -
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Arial view of Nubble Lighthouse / swim course
July 10 2010, 2.4 mile ocean swim from Long Sands to Short Sands beach,
York Maine

Click on the thumbnails to right to see full size photos:

Eleven Great Bay Masters swam and conquered the inaugural 2.4 mile Nubble Light Challenge open water swim on July 10, 2010. On an ordinary summer day the word 'conquer' might be a little overkill. On this day it was appropriate due to three factors - ocean swell, fog, and cold water. July is normally the doldrums for waves but on this day there was a good 3 foot swell. Conditions were ideal for a waist+ summer morning surf, which in retrospect would probably have been more fun but not such a good story. Then there was fog - a fairly thick fog that made sighting the buoys challenging. And finally cold water, more on that later.

The swim course starts on the shore in front of the bath house on Long Sands Beach. It proceeds to the 'gut', a small channel between Nubble Island and the point of land between Long and Short Sands beaches. Swimmers then continue around the point and in to the finish at Short Sands (see photo above).

A little personal perspective of the swim from the author's point of view.... The race organizers did a great job hosting the event. The course was well patrolled by kayakers. You can get an idea of the race conditions from the photos to the right - 'pre-race', 'kayakers' and 'start'. Swimming through the breaking waves at the beginning was a challenge, I had to fight through the whitewater and got pushed back several times before getting into the cleaner water. Due to the fog I swam well off course and found myself looking at the rocks on the north end of Long Sands beach and realizing I needed to turn right to get to the gut. Shortly after starting along the point toward the gut I hit a patch of cold water - I mean water that felt ice cold. I instantly lost feeling in my hands and feet (my guess is the water was below 50F in this patch). For a moment I felt so miserable I considered just turning around and swimming back to the beach. Then I adjusted my perspective and decided this was now an adventure swim, not a race. I crossed paths with a younger swimmer who was also somewhat lost and looking for the next buoy. We talked briefly and decided on our course. A little while later we bumped into fellow GBM's Guy and Kirk who were also looking for the next buoy. The four of us pressed forward, stopped to confer periodically, and eventually found the buoy before the gut. From here things got easier. Finding the gut from this buoy wasn't a problem. We exited the ice cold patch of water and after passing through the gut the fog lifted and the waves were smaller. Things were looking up and with new enthusiasm I swam to the finish.

TOUGH MAN AWARD TO BOB FERNALD
Almost everybody at the Nubble swim wore a wetsuit. Ocean swimming in water as cold as the mid-50's Fahrenheit is quite tolerable with a wetsuit. There were a very small subset of Nubble swimmers who did the race without a wetsuit and GBM Bob Fernald was one of them. Congratulations to Bob on this feat.

Congratulations to the GBM's who swam Nubble:
Edmund Gendreau, Guy Davis, Kirk Larsen, Matt Craig, Robert Fernald, Robert Mair, Todd Springer, Susan Knight, Stephen Smith, Jana Slezak and Kyle Murray

Complete race results here. Great Bay Masters welcomes new members.
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pre-race

kayakers

start

Ed finish

Jana finish

Guy finish

Bob F

Todd

Bob M