PLEASE NOTE: An earlier version of this story highlighted the course for the Ultimate Florida Challenge, not the Everglades Challenge. It's been corrected below.
The Everglades Challenge is a 300-mile expedition style adventure race for kayaks, canoes, and small boats, from Tampa to Key Largo.
It's not a traditional boat race in any means. Teams are encouraged to row, paddle, and even get out and push their watercraft in the event of no wind or current.
You're expected to finish the race in eight days or less. Unless you're really hardcore.
This year's winner was Jahn Tihansky, head of the U.S. Naval Academy's Offshore Sailing Team. Sailing on Spawn with Jeff Linton and OH Rodgers, Team Twobeers finished the challenge in an unprecedented 37 hours and 36 minutes. Tihansky, Rodgers, and Linton finished the Challenge in 2014 onboard Frankenscot, a modified Flying Scot, in 60 hours and 17 minutes. "Spawn" is the result of two years of tweaking to create the perfect boat that would crush the challenge.
Spawn is a modified custom-built OH Rodgers with a broken Melges 20 mast, an A-cat boom, bowsprit, and rudders. "Rodgers is a composite guy," says Tihansky, "and he put it together. With a plywood hull, the boat weighs just over 550 pounds.
"We went pretty quick," he says. The boat averaged eight knots over the course, topping out at 15 knots per hour. The crew did not have to portage the boat due to the course that they took, but that doesn't mean it was easy. "There are three check in points: Englewood, Chokoloskee, and Flamingo. Of the three, Chok is the hardest to get into. You have to go through 3-4 miles of mangrove islands, oyster bars, and shallow water. We did that at 2 a.m, with the current ripping through." To keep the boat moving forward, Rodgers installed a sliding rowing seat, two carbon oars, and oar locks. "That gave us the capability of rowing the boat at 2.5 knots in the case of no wind."
We'll have more on Tihansky and the Everglades Challenge in the April issue of SpinSheet. Until then, check out the cool videos.