Even though the wind was blowing pretty hard, the waves at the start were not that big. Initially, it wasn’t bad paddling and I was making pretty good progress but that was short-lived. As I got into deeper water the waves grew and as time passed I really think the winds just got stronger. In the past it has taken me anywhere from an hour & 15 minutes to an hour & 30 minutes to cross Tampa Bay. Not so this year. In fact, at an hour & 30 minutes I was not even half way across. I was paddling hard and with my amas out I was really digging into the stroke but it felt like I was not making any forward progress. This type of paddling can be real depressing and can work on your mind if you let it. I guess I was about three-quarters of the way across the bay when a couple of negative thoughts hit me. First, I felt I was not going to be able to overcome this wind and I will be pushed all the way back to Ft DeSoto. My second thought was I may not be able to complete the UFC. I am a big believer that positive self talk and positive visualization is key for superior performance. If you let a negative thought enter your mind you are programing yourself for that outcome. If you only think positive thoughts, there is no guarantee that positive outcome will occur but it sure increases the odds. Well, having that negative thought really pissed me off and thoughts of, “I WILL BE #$*@#&% IF THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN” and “IF I HAVE TO PADDLE UNTIL I DROP TO GET ACROSS THIS BAY I WILL !!!! entered my mind. Now one thing I have learned is that you have to be careful with emotions in critical situations. They can be beneficial but generally it is good to make them short-lived because they will get in the way of the real solution thinking. I was angry at myself for thinking negative thoughts and angry at the wind, but I needed to stow this anger so I could think. I had been paddling my plotted course which had me and all the other brave souls who had launched heading to Anna Maria Island. This is the shortest route over good water depth but at the same time it kept me exposed to the winds and big waves. I could angle over to the land mass just west of the Manatee River which would provide some protection from the wind. This course was longer in distance and would expose me to some risk of shallow water that I may not be able to paddle over. No one else was doing this but hey, I am not a banana so I don’t have to be one of the bunch. I changed course. At first, it seemed like I was going nowhere but slowly it got easier and easier and the waves got smaller and smaller. I made it but was I exhausted. I was in calm water and I found there was enough water for me to paddle the shoreline. As I got to the Perico island which is part of the entrance to Anna Maria Sound, I saw several Watertribers resting on a small spoil island just off of Perico Island. They had also made it across and were stopping to recover. Who would have ever thought that this island would have a visit from a Watertriber during an Everglades Challenge race. Normally everyone is cranking through this area with the thought of maybe stopping for a short break in Venice (35 miles away) or not stopping at all until CP1. Not this year. About this time a small beach appeared and I decided in this case it might not be a bad idea to be a banana. I stopped to get out and stretch my muscles, get some fuel in me, and ponder my next move. The winds were not shifting to the SW as I had hoped and in fact seemed to be blowing S/SE. No sailing for me!! I also started to ponder the thought that if I could not increase my speed there were not enough hours in the day for me to make it to CP1 today. I have never not made it to CP1 the first day of the race and to complete the UFC in the allocated time I needed to cover 40 miles a day. Ok, that just means I will need to paddle longer one of the upcoming days. I can do it. I have in the past paddled 60 miles in a day. Now that is the way to be thinking! Sitting on the beach wasn’t getting me any closer so I got back into my trusty Kruger and started heading to Sarasota Bay……. This is a video by Danito, who was in a Kruger Sea Wind. I am impressed that he could free his hands up to shoot a video.