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!