Log in

Race recaps

Home > News

  • Fri, June 30, 2023 2:15 PM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    Charles Island SUP CUP

    by Kyle Ann

    (founding member & Regional Rep from Rhode Island)

    The stoke was STRONG on June 17th at Walnut Beach in Milford CT.

    Sup Racing made its return to New England in a BIG way.

    The 8th running of the Charles Island Sup Cup was back after a 2 year hiatus.

    The day was forecasted to be Stormy, Windy and Rainy BUT turned out to be perfect!

    Rained on the drive to Milford and again on the way home. But during the race the Sun appeared and the rain took a break.

    The winds were just the just the right amount of challenging, although some described it as paddling in a “gale” LOL.

    Many thanks to Jack Egan, Surfrider Foundation, Tina Pritchard and Paddle & Scoot for sponsoring this event.

    Well organized with Good Vibes and Great Swag!

    This race had everything you could ask for, awesome finisher metals, sweet trophies, FOOD! and a fun funky band that played all afternoon.

    There was something for everyone, first timers to seasoned racers. Three races were offered, 5 mile course around Charles Island and two 2.5 mile courses, one for Race boards and one for Recreational Sups.

    I think that encouraging those new to the sport and giving them their own course to shine on really sets this event apart. This type of friendly, supportive and all inclusive event will grow the sport of Sup Racing.

    Awards were given out in all races, both Overall and Age Group. So everyone had a shot at some glory and bragging rights.

    After the Main Event, the Sprint Race was on!  Everyone was welcomed to enter and test their speed in this Single elimination event.

    It was the luck of the draw who you went up against and it was tons of fun to watch.

    The Grand Prize was a CUSTOM Quickblade carbon paddle with SUPer cool Surfrider graphics generously donated by Jim Terrell.

    Just a fabulous day that will be remembered by all. 

    This event is always held the mid June so be on the look out for Charles Island SUP Cup 2024 and make sure to sign up



  • Fri, June 02, 2023 7:02 AM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    by Juerg Geser

    (founding member living in California)

    Great race for a good cause over Memorial Day Weekend hosted by Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) and Operation Open Water, supporting the health of every First Responder & Veteran through unique training programs, fellowship, and open water experiences.

    Had to quickly change my race strategy based on who actually showed up at the race. Last minute registrations by Jake Graham and Paul Pianowski made me quickly realize that this will be a battle for 3rd place for me. These two guys are just too far out of my reach. They are leaner, younger, stronger, and just better paddlers than me, congratulations to you two for 1st and 2nd place!

    The 3rd place was up for grabs for a few, especially Rich D'Souza who has had an incredible season so far, and then back from Peru we had Paul Gonzales who is faster every time I see him, then we have Dave Anderson, the fastest one off the line, Shawn Tierney  who is a wild card, he is always one to look out for, depending on how far back his last private lesson with Danny Ching was   Kenny Kwong must have had some miracle breakfast as he showed up in my draft and pushed me hard at the beginning of the race.

    With this all going on, my new strategy was to go out hard and keep a mean pace. The pace was faster than my original plan for sure, and luckily, I was able to take advantage of the two buoy turns to shake the draft train behind me at the halfway point. Right after the turns, i paddled as hard as possible to create a gap to the paddlers behind me and then just kept my head down going against the wind and paddle my heart out till the finish line showed up. Really had to earn my 3rd place  .

    Training is now shifting from short distance events to long distance, getting ready for SUP 11 City Tour in September.

  • Fri, June 02, 2023 6:39 AM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    by Sam Gentsch

    (Founding Member & Southest Regional Rep living in Georgia)

    I have been fascinated with videos of the Graveyard race at the Carolina Cup for years. I am a river and lake paddler, and just getting off and back onto the beach looks brutal in years past. I sit in awe watching paddlers of all ages and on various craft battle the waves just to start the 13.2-mile race. This year I decided to go to the Carolina Cup, participate in the shortest race and run over to watch the graveyard (this was wildly optimistic on how quickly I could finish the Harbor Island Race, more later…). I took a couple days off work, to leisurely drive from Atlanta to Wilmington Beach, and to attend Dan Gavere's Rough Water Racing- Technique and Strategies clinic.  Dan’s clinic was fantastic. We learned a lot of skills for choppy and challenging conditions and received a lot of personal technique tuning. I heard great reviews from the other clinics also. It was very much worth a vacation day to channel with Dan and similarly skilled paddlers. 
    Race day was very well organized, warm, and sunny and all the racers were smiling and chatting while we waited for the safety brief. I love our community, and it was fun meeting so many kindred spirits! The 5km Harbor Island race started off with a water start on the front/bay side of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, we paddled the course and due to some construction along the original course did more like 8km. The course was fun and lots of boaters made it challenging for flat water paddlers like me…though Dan’s clinic helped me a lot!

    The 8km took me longer than I planned for the 5km, HAH, call me Captain Obvious, so I missed the graveyard start…dang it! I took the time to chat up some other racers of the shorter races and test out one of the sponsors, Kona Brewing Company, adult beverages. It was not long before the amazingly speedy racers started surfing in and running across the finish line. I overheard many racers talking about how challenging the conditions and course were. Some very skilled racers could not make it out of one of the inlets…the conditions had them paddling as hard as they could and they just could NOT get into the ocean, they chose after fighting for a while to call it a day. I KNOW how hard it is to admit defeat to the course and really give props to those racers. Next year. Next year you will crush it! 

    After the race, the free food and beer/seltzers, the paddlers, the support crews (aka family), and award ceremonies were enjoyable! I enjoyed talking to people at sponsor tents, USA SUP crew, racers from all over. SIC, 404, Allstar had boards on display, and it was informative talking to experts about all of them. Listening to Danny Ching explain the design process of the 404 Jump and new LTDX was fascinating. Jonathan Bischof shared so much knowledge about Starboard and 404 boards. The SIC crew (so sorry I do not remember the name of who I spoke to) was also awesome. Salt Life had a tent up and cornhole contests to win free stuff and there were many others.

    It was outside of my normal distance to race rule, AND well worth it. I WILL race the Carolina Cup again. I hope to someday be good enough in the ocean to do the Graveyard, but if not, I will still come to NC, attend clinics and race on the inland races!  

  • Wed, February 01, 2023 11:00 AM | Mike Wang (Administrator)

    Hanohano Ocean Challenge Recap

    Written by Mike Wang (owner of Mike's Paddle)

    Once a year hundres of paddlers (SUP, OC, Surfski and Prone) descend upon Mission Beach, San Diego, to attend one of the largest paddle race in the country. Hosted by the Hanohano Outrigger Club, it’s an amazing event with all the SoCal racers plus many folks traveling as far as NorCal, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and even Candana & Mexico! It has become a truly Pan West Coast Race over the years. And since many of the top manufacturer teams are based in SoCal, you have some high caliber paddlers from Starboard, SIC Maui, Quickblade, Infinity, and 404 as well as many very competitive amateur paddlers who have been training hard during the pandemic. I felt like it’s THE race to go during winter when it’s too cold everywhere else.

    Surprisingly a very local race drew 700 paddlers! The short course was for SUP only (~5 miles) with some very wide turns, currents, around Disney Vacation Island and a very exciting finish. There were 165 stand up paddlers (the rest were OC & Surfski), 124 boards were 14’, 27 were 12’6 and only 13 under 12’6. Clearly 14’ boards have progressed to the dominant race length these days. Kudos for the organizers to still recognize the other classifications but it’s clear that 14’ are here to stay and going to the standard lengths in the future.

    With so many great paddlers and local favorites I did some analyzing of the top ten mens and womens and wanted to show you how wonderful these folks are!

    Top 5 Womens:

    Candice Appleby – the Queen of SUP continue to surprise us with so many years of racing history and is still on top. How does she does she do it? Her Ocean Academy continues to train and develop young and adult athletes and we wish her and the Infinity SUP Team the best in 2023.

    April Zilg – Many of us remember April’s early careers up and downs and she really persevered through hardship and have finally peaked in her paddling career (and more to come). April has also stared her own coaching business and she's an amazing one! She was less than 2 minutes behind Candice and I’m sure she’s going to make it up at another race this season. We whish her and the 404 team the best in 2023.

    Lindsay Weidner – Lindsay is not a full time profession paddler. A RN by day and also pro by night! She’s not only a charger in race and surf, she also teaches yoga! Here’s what I mean by “amateur” paddlers being on the heels of pros – she was only 4 minutes behind April Zilg. 

    Soryn Preston – Under 14 being 5th in such a competitive race is definitely not an under achievement! Soryn, sponsored by SIC Maui,  paddles race, surf and outrigger. She’s an all around athlete to watch for. Plus she has a dedicated dad who takes her to every race and training as well as having Canidce Appleby as a mentor and friend, so her future is bright!

    Madeline Leblanc – A ray of sunshine usually accompany this bright and funny Canadian paddler from Toronto. She’s staying SoCal for the winter to train and escape the Canadian Winter. You can find her on a sail boat in San Clemente ready to paddle anytime. Maddi (how she calls herself) is one of the top Canadian Starboard SUP paddlers and have amazing background for teaching, racing and surfing. Look for her in the international competitions!

    Honorable Mentions Top 10 Womens:

    Samantha Eastburn (founder of SUP Pups) – if you have haven’t met this fireball of a person, go take one of her classes. She’s an amazing teacher, funny, exciting and patient on top of being an all around athlete in all board sports.

    Kristin Thomas (OG racer/surfer and USA SUP board member) – What can I say that no one else know about Kristin? She’s THE most vocal advocate for our sport. Sponsored by Infinity SUP - she's still one of the best racers in the US!

    Anik Wild (owner of Tahoe Waterman’s Landing): along with her amazing husband Jay Wild, they run a great paddle shop, OC club, and a café! Tahoe is a tough place to operate and train but they’ve managed to make it their passion and career. We wish them the best!

    Katie Kasprzyk and Terri Plunkett (top ten with a 12’6) are all regular paddlers in the race scene, and we would love to hear more about them as we do more member related interviews!

    Top 5 Men’s

    Danny Ching – If Canidce is “Queen”, Danny certainly deserve the “King”s title (at least in SoCal). Adept in many watercrafts, Danny still brought it home sprinting past Bodie at the end and won the race by 7 seconds. Another paddler over 40 and with kids is peaking at his performance give us all inspiration and motivation to do better as we age. SUP is certainly sustainable as a life time sport. We wish Danny and his 404 brand the best in 2023!

    Bodie Von Allmen – Bodie, from Oregon, has taken the SUP world by storm in the last couple of years, racking up various medals in different races. It’s amazing to see that Bodie still just 17 years old and is competing in open levels and winning them. As a SIC Maui rider, he’s certainly brought a lot of attention to the SIC RS!

    Thomas Nielsen – Another young paddler coached under the umbrella of the Paddle Academy has made several debuts in local races. Coming a few seconds after Bodie is no small feat!

    Riley Jaggi – Riley, another under 19 paddler, has risen to the 4th place in such a competitive race. Sponsored by 404, Riley races, surfs, OC, and is still attending college. We wish him the best in his future endeavors!

    Dan Miller – Dan Miller is no stranger to the race scene with tons of race, foiling, prone and whitewater racing experience. In addition, he's a Doctor! Sponsored by NSP, he came all the way from Canada to this race.

    Honorable Mentions Top 10 Mens

    Pete Gauvin: always my local favorite in the SF Bay Area, was only 45 seconds behind Dan Miller. Paddling an old school 404 and over 50, he’s still at the top of his shape and we love him for it. 

    Rafael Apodaca: Rafa is one of the best paddlers from Mexico. Living in Sayulita, he regularly comes to SoCal and NorCal to compete and support his Sayulita Junior SUP Team. We are so inspired that he trains not only those who can afford it but also local kids who can’t and getting them into the sport early. Kudos Rafa!

    Paul Pianowski: You can always find Paul paddling in SoCal with all the regulars. He’s intro on Facebook: One day I went Stand-Up Pddle Boarding THE END. ‘Nuff said. We love you Paul.

    Ian Connor: Being an all around amazing athelete (Colorado waterman), Ian does it with grace in sup race, wing, surf, whitwater sup and many other disciplines. He’s also so generous that he brought a starboard for Maddi Leblanc from Canada to use for the race so she that she can get to the top 5!

    Sean Pangelinan: We don’t always see Asian Americans being front and center represented in paddling sports, but Sean represented Guam in two Olympics at flatwater canoe sprinters. Sean is also an amazing personal trainer (owner and trainer at the Fit Lab) and still paddling at top shape! Coming in the top ten is a great accomplishment. We wish him the best in 2023!

  • Tue, January 31, 2023 8:31 PM | Adam Tischler (Administrator)

    If you haven't seen Jay Ruffo's creative, thoughtful and occasionally goofy videos, you're missing out. He does some great race videos, big and small, and here he captures a weekly "pick up" race that takes place on Seattle's fresh water ship canal.

  • Sat, December 17, 2022 5:24 PM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    by John Knippers

    ***** RACE RECAP: "Last Paddler Standing" *****

    First of ALL, MAHALO everyone involved in this crazy race. Whether it be the directors, volunteers, the elite endurance racers from across the globe, to the thousands of people who were following it through the 48hrs of livestream via SUP Racer, FB live, and on YouTube Live! *MAHALO NUI LOA!!!

    **************** BONUS! ****************

    The FINAL 12 hours are still on YouTube if anyone wonders what it was like & would like to watch it!

    (*I'll attach a link in the picture of the livestream!)

    The EVENT was truly something extraordinary, and I am SO grateful to have been a player who made it until the end (2nd to "LAST PADDLER STANDING").

    *This meant i had made 47 laps around the course, a 3.33 mile loop an hour, & eventually surrendering to an extraordinary pro paddleboarder from Italy, Paolo Marconi... AND what an honor it was to share the last few hours of this thing together! He is a STRONG, inspirational, SOLID athlete & Father!


    Sleep deprivation, fatigue, paddling alongside an accomplished group of ultra distance racers ALL set on winning... IT was MENTAL beyond MENTAL!

    AND on that 44th hour, when it was down to just me and Paolo on our second exhausting night out there... well wouldnt ya know an approximately 5 ft gator surfaces about 40ft in front of me right on my course under the moonlight. (*AND I'm on an inflatable LOL). Talk about mental. Needless to say though I paddled another three laps around the course until it was the "proper" time to surrender.

    ****** Some might ask why did i surrender? ******

    Well, let me explain... it had been 47 hours and 45 minutes, 150+ miles no current w/ headwinds, and at that point i was exhausted. Plus, had the event gone one more lap, the loop would be increased to 4.9 miles, a distance that after 48hrs pretty much no sleep, seemed inconceivable to do more than once. In addition, i really just didn't have enough gas in the tank to give Paolo a run for his money & why add more time to my recovery?! So here I am today approximately 10 days later, thankful I made that decision, because although i'm pretty much recovered, I do still have numbness in my toes which will probably take some time to get normal.

    That being said, I'm SO grateful to be the "ASSIST"!

    * (Now for the LONG LIST of MAHALO's.) *

    First of ALL, Greg Wingo, race director, organizer and brainchild of this AWESOME event that will be no doubt filling up quick come January for 2023.

    QuickBlade Paddles, the paddle i used for almost 48hrs, had the perfect flex, & i didnt get one blister! Yster SUP, the official board sponsor of the 2022 LPS, who allowed me to fly there for a proper 48 hours testing the new incredible linear 17'3 x 26 touring ISUP... *(Swedish designer Per, if you see this post, I'd be honored to do some more testing, wink wink lol). Mason Gravley of Athletic Brewing Company, who not only helped w/ the commentary provided TOP shelf non-alcoholic brew for the guests & even athletes all throughout the event...

    *(Note: As someone who doesnt drink alcohol anymore, but did however in the past enjoy IPA... they actually had a delicious non alcoholic option)

    ALSO, thank you to the AMAZING Volunteers who helped pull this all off together, as well as the BRAVE racers & friends from around the globe who participated in this never been done before crazy ordeal. To my RAD brother, Mark Knippers, who continually backs me up in these wild paddle ultras. The LPS racers & friends who paddled 12 hours like Tracy Cullinane & Patrick B. then hung around for the rest of the event showered me w/ ALOHA & then treated me like a KING afterwords. Josette Lata (who also paddled 12 hours) and hubby Eddy Okinsky, who 2/3rds into the race announced VIA the livestream they were giving me a new 14' raceboard for being inspiring. THATS JUST CRAZY AWESOME, AND i'M SO GRATEFUL!

    Göran Gustavsson, one of my fierce competitors from Sweden who not only did I enjoy paddling 40 hours & laps with, was also blessed to hang out with for 2 following days there. Then there was Bobby Johnson, 2 time winner and LEGEND of one of the toughest races in the world, "The Great Alabama 650"... This guy, is possibly the fastest ultra distance surfski guys on the planet, had only been SUP'ing a few weeks before the race, & "What an honor it was to paddle with ya Bobby"! Alexis Somoano, you as well my friend... And lookout if your thinking of doing it next year... he WILL be a contender i know in 2023 something fierce. Huge thanks to my next door neighbor and friend, Chad Blackman... who looked after my first mate paddle dog Jericho here at the house while & i was out of town. THAT WAS HUGE! Krystal @ Country Pets Bed & Breakfast who runs a TOP notch kennel on a ranch outside of town and always takes good care of the rest of my furballs (Zeus, Zoe, Sup, & Koa).

    Then, the BIGGEST Thank you of ALL AWARD has gotta go to Mike Dodd an old friend rom Hawaii, and Efrat Almog, who really came through there in Sarasota! Besides just being in my camp hollering encouragement, or as I would paddle under the bridge on the loop, the many vulnerable times too when I really felt like quitting! They periodically would bring me coffee, a taco, burger, or tasty treat that could break the monotony of my normal routine of vacuum sealed spinach, sweet potato, sprouted quinoa, dark choc, Blueberry, banana, beet powder, "nutrition bar stuff" I typically make for these ultras, just get tired of it after 24 hrs LOL.

    And last but not least Chris Parker, Kelly Margetts, & Kristin Thomas for encouragement throughout the 48 hour, never been done before LIVESTREAM!

    Y'all knocked it out of the park keeping thousands of friends, family, and people entertained across the globe & in the "LOOP", (so to speak LOL). ALL DAY ALL NIGHT on this WILD CRAZY SUP EVENT!

    *BIG MAHALO's to ALL the friends too who sent kind messages and congratulated me ALL week!

    *Almsot forgot to mention USA SUP & TotalSUP...

    (Thank you both for hyping up the event & sharing)

    ******* MAHALO NUI LOA EVERYONE!!! *********

  • Mon, November 28, 2022 1:16 PM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    by Keva Andersen

    The picture on my Instagram story on race day morning was captioned “wondering WTF I got myself into!” That was a pretty good indicator of how I’d been feeling since I made a last-minute decision to enter the “Off Da Couch” race, held on October 22 in Newport Beach, California. At the beginning of the year I’d set a goal for myself to be more intentional about my paddleboarding and to expand on my skill set. I’ve been paddling since 2011 but I’d never really set distance or speed goals for myself. And while the sport was still great fun I wanted to see how much further I could go if I pushed toward specific goals. Yet racing still really wasn’t on my radar as something I thought I could do. And if I’m being honest, as I was standing there that morning waiting for my turn to head out, I still wasn’t sure this first attempt wasn’t going to end in disaster!            

    The “Off Da Couch” race day schedule started with the safety meeting at 8:30 am, the 9-mile long course headed out at 9 am, followed by the 6-mile board race a few minutes later, and the short course at 11:30 am. Since this was my first time out I opted for the short course, so I had a lot of time on my hands to reconsider if I was really cut out for this. I knew the distance would be fine but seeing the crowd with all their gear was a little intimidating. Especially as I was standing there with my 12’6” inflatable Infinity Blackfish Air. But watching “the big kids” take off on their boards, cheer on other racers, and finish strong was so inspiring I knew I’d be kicking myself for weeks if I chickened out. So when the time came to head to the start point for the short course I checked the pins on my race number for the millionth time, tightened my leash, and followed along at the back of the pack. 

    We gathered on the water at the start line just south of the Newport Aquatic Center with the OC-6 and OC-1 crews leading the charge along with surfskis and some prone paddlers. The skies were mostly cloudy, the temperature in the low 60s, the breeze had definitely picked up and there was already some chop on the water. The SUPs were the last to go and as we waited to take off, I decided to start the race kneeling. I knew this would be a no-go in a professional race situation but given how choppy the water was after the other craft took off, I knew my inflatable didn’t stand a chance of staying upright if I was standing. After getting tossed around for a while I hopped to my feet and took stock of how things were looking. Most of the group had taken off and were well ahead of me but they didn’t seem too far ahead, all things considered. We were pushing against the outgoing tide but the wind was at our backs and I thought, ok, I can at least keep this respectable. One stroke at a time, keep your balance, don’t crash into anybody. I kept that as my mantra until there was no one close enough to have to worry about that last one!

    As I approached the turn around point most everyone was well ahead of me, with the exception of the hardy crew of 12u racer Lily in an OC-1, her dad following along on a SUP, and a man in a kayak. We made our way around the metal buoy to head back to the start when we were hit by a headwind I can only describe as gnarly, I believe between 10 and 15 miles per hour. Every bit of speed we gained from following the outgoing tide was getting flattened by that breeze. But no matter. Lily led the way in her OC-1 as I put the hammer down on the paddle and just tried to keep up.

    With the finish line in sight, we could hear the cheers as we approached with the crowd encouraging Lily in what I think was her first race. But then I heard another voice yelling for me too! There was Suzy, who before that day was a friend from Instagram I hadn’t yet met in person, encouraging me to push hard to the very end. I remembered to yell out my number 79 to the team at the finish with the race director teasing me “ok, 1 clap for you too!” and just like that it was done. I was sweaty, tired, and ready for a snack, but really stoked.

    In the end, the official race results said I came in second to last but I really didn’t care about that. I had such a good time out on the course and was so excited to meet that goal of finishing that I couldn’t wait to try my hand at another one, now that I knew what to expect. And everyone at the event was so nice and encouraging, especially when they found out this was my first race. I had a lot of fun meeting new people and one woman even stopped me in the parking lot to tell me she thought I did a great job on the inflatable and her kindness and encouragement has stayed with me. “Off Da Couch” is also a fundraiser in honor of NAC’s beloved Sam Couch, who died of Cystic Fibrosis. CF has also touched my family and it felt great to start my racing journey in a way that was also giving back to the community. 

    I’d been hearing that the racing community was really fun but for years I’d been hesitant to try it. I was lucky to have run with a fun crew of paddlers through Salmon Bay Paddle when I lived in Seattle but even after years in L.A. now I hadn’t been able to replicate that. I’d watched the racers on Instagram and felt like I was missing out but thought I didn’t have the right gear or the right skills or the timing just wasn’t right. I live in an apartment so inflatables have been my only option, and while they’re fun they’re not exactly built for competition. So what finally convinced me to give it a shot? I kept going back to a July SUP Connect Instagram live conversation with Kristin Thomas and Jen Fuller about racing. It’s no secret that SUP can be very expensive and it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to have the fancy race boards and paddles before you can compete. In that live interview I asked if there was a way to get into racing on a budget and it was Jen who offered this advice: “paddle the hell out of whatever you’ve got.” Everyone starts somewhere and dialing in your stroke and your skills on something unconventional can help build a base that will benefit you down the line. That advice kept rattling around in my brain until finally I said stop second guessing yourself and registered for the race. And I’m so glad I did. I’m hoping to upgrade my board sometime next year but until then I’ll be paddling the hell out of that inflatable and I’m looking forward to racing again at Hanohano in San Diego in January. 


  • Mon, October 31, 2022 4:31 PM | Adam Tischler (Administrator)

    A collection of costumed paddlers preparing for ghoulish gusts
    Photo credit: Michelle Black

    The Ballard Elks Paddle Club in Seattle, WA held the annual Halloween Race on October, 30th. The race features two constants: great costumes and high winds. The 2022 edition was no exception as everything from kraken to Howard Stern showed up to race along with predicted winds in the 15-20 knot range. On a somewhat sheltered course the field paddled well and survived the fresh breeze to enjoy a breakfast buffet and some libations, in the Ballard Elks Lodge #827. 

    Nick Papa won the SUP first place after pulling away from the field. We won't dwell on the fact that he was one of the few uncostumed competitors and will instead focus on his exceptional performance. Jessi Wasson won the women's division, handling the heavy weather well... while wearing a costume. Sarah Hess won the award for best costume - an octopus.

    After the race, many participants chose to take part in a downwind on the building southerly that swept across Puget Sound. 

  • Mon, October 31, 2022 2:15 PM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    My Quest for the Buckle 

    by Roxane Robinson

    This Race.  Chattajack 31.  It’s like no other.  A race where the registration begins at midnight (EST) 6 months in advance and has been known to sell out in under an hour.  This year we have over 700 competitors and a waitlist of over 200.

    I first decided to so this race in 2015 and convinced Shawna Macnamara to do it with me.  We started training in April (in New York) wearing wetsuits.  Every 4 four weeks we would paddle around Shelter Island, approximately 20 miles or so.  It was exhausting.  Then there was the panic about the cut-offs.  10 miles…2 hours and 30 minutes.  Due to family medical issues, I was unable to paddle for the two months leading up to the race. The week of the race, I realized, I had trained, and whatever happened was going to happen, so off Shawna and I went.  My first Chattajack was a bluebird day.  Lovely weather, low 70’s, and a bit of a push from the current.  I didn’t own a Garmin, and had mis-set my phone app, so at no time did I know where how many miles had I gone, how many did I have left.  What I know now was approximately mile 27, I met up with Chandler Bold and Danielle Goldston, two of my favorite prone mermaids.  They told me we were almost there.  Once we spotted the Hales Dam, which I thought was a mirage, we paddled even harder.  As we got close to the turn, there was Shawna.  We had trained together and We finished together!!   

    I was hooked.  I had to do this race again!!  So finally, 2017 I was back in Tennessee on my quest for the buckle.  It was such a tough year weather wise, 55 degrees and raining at the start…then the temperature dropped 10 degrees, and it was still raining.  Over 70 people dropped out during the race that year, due to the cold and hypothermia.  For months after, I heard that people couldn’t feel their finger tips and toes. I was ok, a bit cold, but ok.  When the race started, I figured that I’d warm up enough for it not to be an issue.  I had learned how to finally set my phone app so that I could hear the miles and pace, so I made a couple of friends that needed that information also.  Around mile 7 I fell off my board, and wondered, how can I do the next 25 miles from in the water. It was so much warmer than the air.  But finish I did, in just over 7 hours.  

    2018, the year of not as much training as I wanted.  The morning started ok, I met Michael Dunlap at the board staging.  He was so excited, his first race of any kind. Who starts with a 32 mile race?  Loved his enthusiasm!  But halfway through my race I was done.  I had nothing left.  My shoulders were on fire, my body hurt.  It was raining off and on, it was kinda cold.  Thoughts of “I’m never doing this again” “I’m too old” “What was I thinking” and yet I kept paddling.  Then about 5  miles from the finish, I ended up paddling next to these two guys, Jim Powell and Ken Taber.  I’m convinced that if it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have made that final cutoff.  I finished with about 20 minutes to spare. 

    2019 was just an exercise in tenacity.  I fell off my board before I even got to the Bridge and timing boat.  Thank goodness the current was good. I got my first 3 miles done in about 30 minutes.  Around 15 miles in I thought, I’m going to finish in about 7 hours. Yippee. But that was not to be, the wind had started picking up.  Headwinds, side chop (actually waves you could surf), and the wind gusts were up to 40mph.  My last two miles took me almost 55 minutes.  I was actually shocked that when I finished, I still had 15 minutes to spare.  

    2020, the virtual year.  So there’s that. It didn’t count for or against the five consecutive years that you have to paddle to earn your belt buckle. 

    2021 had the fastest current ever.  All kinds of new records were set.  As I was definitely undertrained but determined to finish, I decided that considering the previous years, I would join a SUP-4 team, “Here for the Beer”.  I even fell off this monster inflatable, and took half the team with me. But we finished!! It was so exciting,  MY first Podium finish.  3rd place.  I was giddy!!  And I had one more year to go for the Buckle!! 

    So here we are, 2022. My buckle year.  It was the largest buckle class since this race started, almost 80 paddlers were expected to receive their buckles.  I had moved, again, and found a training partner in another state.  We would both drive an hour to meet on Saturday mornings at 7:15.  Sybel Pacis Sierra was the best, we would discuss nutrition, strokes, and both of us finishing our race successfully.  But I was still worried.  No one knows what the weather will be that day.  Will we get lucky and have the current of 2021?  Will there be wind?   I reached out to my Facebook friends and asked for good wishes and positive thoughts which I received.  It meant so much to me and I used those as my mental energy.  

    Race morning came, in the low 40’s but no wind.  It was going to be a sunny day and warm up to around 70.  Finally, it’s announced that we need to start getting on the water.  Row by row we pick up our boards, walk down past the live band playing Kashmir (Led Zeppelin) which is so cool.  We all got on the water so fast, they were able to start the race 10 minutes early. I wasn’t quite ready for that, but off I went.  The amazing John Puakea had given me some advice on Friday regarding my stroke which took me from a very solid 15 minute mile to 12 and 13 minute miles.  OMG!!!  Which was great as there was absolutely no current.  If you stopped paddling, you stopped moving completely.  

    Paddling down the river is beautiful no matter what the weather.  It’s truly one of my favorite places to be. You hear people on the river banks, on their docks, on boats, cheering for you as you pass.  I love their support! 

    As I neared my final 5 miles, I realized how good I still felt.  Still strong, still maintaining a good pace, chatting with Cassie Salter and friends from the UK, it was going to be a good finish.  Coming around Hales Dam, seeing my friends on the dock, and then my son, Hugh.  I was so happy he could be there for the finish of my race and see me receive my buckle.  A big thanks to Ben Friberg and Kimberley Friberg for creating this race that brings us back year after year.  I know I’ll be back on that river again.

  • Mon, October 31, 2022 2:02 PM | Kristin Thomas (Administrator)

    by Mike Wang

    Battle of the Bay has been a culminating race for Northern California for many years. Usually hosted at the end of the season, folks from all over NorCal come to the iconic San Francisco Bay to get a taste of what’s it like to race on the bay. In the past it has been hosted in a number of awesome locations such as Crissy Field (round Alcatraz & Golden Gate Bridge) and McNear’s Beach in San Rafael. 

    My first BOTB was epic. The 7 mile course was set from Crissy Field to circumnavigate Alcatraz and then round the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was the hardest race I had done with just 2 years of paddling SUP. I wasn’t a total stranger to paddling underneath the bridge (having lots of experience in sea kayaks), but on a stand up it was totally humbling. With an almost 6 knot flood current, paddlers were completely knocked off course and drifting back into the bay at times. When I finished, I was beaming with excitement and it is still the best race that I done with 9 years of paddling.

    This year, although a little more muted since the Golden Gate years, Steve Pugh still put on an amazing race with the help of all the local retailers and coaches from Sausalito. After the pandemic, it feels like the paddling community is much more inclusive and less competitive. We all felt what we had lost and treasured the moments together. David Wells from 101 Surfsports managed the registration and timing with grace and precision sacrificing his own urges to be #1. John Hadley did the announcement after running his own race the previous weekend (Sonoma Surfriders Foundation race at Doran Beach). Gaelan Schmidt from Seatrek did safety on his boat as I did safety and photos from my new “used” boat that I use for Mike’s Paddle. It was great to see all the folks who love this sport so much to support each other.

    Both the long and short course gave the paddlers a sense of being one with the water. Richardson bay is relatively calm in the morning with less than 5 knot wind but the current can be challenging. Paddlers came up to the opening of Richardson Bay with conjunction of Racoon Strait - which can be a really challenging place to paddle with added currents with constriction between Belvedere Point and Angel Island. It was amazing to see 100 paddlers going across the bay, seals popping up here and there, strong currents in the strait and the scenery of the open bay with Blue Angels flying by occasionally for the air show.

    Results with all the local favorite paddlers winning awards and that’s how we like it! 

    7 Mile Long Course: Jen Fuller our local favorite SUP coach finished first, battling out with USA SUP board member favorite Kristin Thomas from SoCal by only two minutes. Tiffany Cleveland finished third.
    4 Mile Short Course: LeeAnn Petersen (a Mike’s Paddle instructor) finished first, Clare Mazzetti (Ohana Paddle Club member) finished second just a minute behind, and Brenna Raugewitz lost to Clare by only 10 secs. 

    7 Mile Long Course: Peter Gauvin (a consistent winner here in the Bay Area) finished before BB (Bojan Bernard) and Chad Raugewitz. All three finished just over an hour which is quite a feat!
    4 Mile Short Course: Riley Hurd first win with Rob Heinemann (only a first year paddler from Ohana Paddle Club) coming second, and Jason Dachtler coming in third all within a minute of each other, it was a close call!

Questions? Check our FAQs.

Follow Us

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software