2015 Carolina Cup by Jen Fuller

 

The Carolina Cup was truly one of my favorite events. The moment we stepped off the plane the people greeted us with their Southern hospitality and it continued for the entire trip.

Wrightsville Beach is a town in New Hanover County, North Carolina just east of Wilmington but is part of the Wilmington Metropolis area.

There are about 3000 people that live on the beach Island but most of them are not on the island all year round.

The island consists of a 4-mile stretch of beautiful white sand and is called the crystal coast because the water is clear and turquoise. It is the only section like this until you get down to Key West, FL. The interior of the island is called Harbor Island and part of the Intracoastal Waterway weaves it’s way between Harbor Island and the mainland.

John Beausang of Distressed Mullet has been the man to instigate pulling the pieces of this race together over the past 5 years. The first year the race was done as the Mullet Run and everyone brought food for a potluck for after the race. Over the years the event has grown into gaining sponsorship and prize money for the participants. The race had over 800 people signed up but with storm weather rolling in not everyone raced. The numbers were still over 700!

Every single race went off on time and without any problems. The 3.5 and 6-mile races were run on the sound side of the island. Shanna Upton took 9th in the Money Island 6 mile race out of 47 women overall and 6th in her age group of 28 women competitors! Well done!

The 13-mile Graveyard race is run off the ocean side and enters and exits through the Intracoastal Waterway.

First, just to set the stage, we could all see that a rainstorm was rolling in and with it more wind and swell. The race course was reversed so that the first leg on the ocean could be downwind and of course the 2nd leg as well.

I for one had a terrific start, feeling happy and focused that I was on a train of fast paddlers I took a major hit at the first rounding buoy and was pushed off my board by a paddler out of control and then a 2nd one who’s board rocketed it’s front end right to my face! The first time in 5 years of racing that I have ever had to stop and make sure I was ok. “Ahh well”, I thought, “I will be fine”, and indeed racing takes your mind and chemistry off any physical insult. Now it was a game of catch up and a fun technical racing with waves, wind and current.

The Graveyard Race had so many races within the race that no one would ever know about unless you talked to the racers afterwards. One racer in particular that is an up and coming young woman, is Fiona Wilde. There was quiet an interesting race between her an Annabel Anderson. In brief Fiona lead the race for most of it up until there was only about 3 miles left. The rest of the discussion is best left to another article on the dynamics of working together while drafting, both physically and ethically.

The following day was overcast and chilly but the kids races went off well and everyone had a great time! One more note to make is that the clinics that went on the 4 days prior and extending through the weekend were phenomenal. Larry Cain, Jim Terrell, Danny Ching, Jamie Mitchell and on and on. For more thorough detail please check Distressed Mullet.

On a final note, if asked would I come back and would I recommend to others? Yes indeed!

 

Carolina Cup Race Results

Jen Fuller is an elite paddler from Sausalito, California and is the owner of Jen Fuller Fitness.