7th Annual Round The Rock Paddle Race

7th Annual Round The Rock Paddle Race


September 12th 2015

7th Annual Race Round the Rock Paddle Race   By Jen Fuller    

Round the Rock race was inspired by Jeff Underwood 7 years ago. Jeff lives on Mercer Island and he and his cohorts thought, “hey lets start a race around the island”!

In the words of Jeff Underwood:

“First race was a fundraiser for Surf Rider Foundation. I think 73 peeps in long course and around 60 in short race. It’s grown every year for the most part. With the 11th hour venue change (he is referring to the change from Newcastle to Chism beach this year due to high bacteria), we lost some registrants and obviously public turnout this year. I created the race because I figured my wife would give a hall pass to me so I could paddle for several hours for what I thought would be with a dozen or more local paddlers.”

So what started out to be a low-key event has turned into a bigger race event over the years. As any race organizer knows the planning and money that go into a race is incredibly detailed and costly in order to pull off a great event. This event was just that!

The main race was a 13 mile rounding of Mercer Island. This year brought very calm waters, light wind and hot weather. Good timing as the week before the wind was blowing nearly 50 mph with torrential rains. Past years have brought high winds and rough water so each year you just never know.

I overheard locals telling tails in the parking lot of years where the race was very challenging. Nervous pre-race reminiscing that brought laughs to everyone in the vicinity.

The race went off easily and effortlessly. Following the 13 mile race were two kids races and a 3 mile race.

To help the success of this event was Lina Augaitis, Barrett Tester and his wife Kelly, Thomas Maximus, of course Jeff Underwood and many others I do not know the names of.

Here is something I thought was really great about the race……Everyone had a chance to be in the money since there was no separating Elite from open class.

Here is how it worked:

The top 3 finishers in each board class (stock (12’6”), 14 and Unlimited) for overall Men and Women will win prize money. Plus overall winners will receive a bonus prize.

If a top racer in a shorter class finishes ahead of a top 3 finisher in an upper class, that racer wins their purse PLUS the longer division purse for that place. For instance, if a stock class winner finishes ahead of the second place 14’ class finisher, the stock rider wins the stock prize and the 2nd place prize for the 14 foot class. The second place 14 foot finisher receives 3rd place prize money!

This is nice if you are a fast racer in a shorter length board class. Shannon Bell and I cashed in on this! The other nice thing is that each age category is recognized with prizes and medal.

Two other Bay Area competitors came up for this race, Julie Stevens and Shanna Upton! Julie came in 3rd in age group and 10th woman overall. Shanna came in 1st in 14’ and 7th women overall

I would recommend this race to anyone. The scene is low-key and the area is beautiful. It is a great place to do other fun outdoor activities or enjoy the city with it’s rich history, and fun things to do and see.

Thank You Jeff Underwood and friends!

Race Results

DART/FLOW Standup Paddle First Annual Fundraiser Race

DART/FLOW Standup Paddle First Annual Fundraiser Race

FLOW Standup Paddle First Annual Fundraiser for DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team)

by Jen Fuller

The DART race showed up on my radar last minute and I have Michael Melville to thank for asking me to take a closer look.

I loved the cause, which is to raise money for the Drowning Accident Rescue Team (DART).

Being a Professional Standup Paddle Association Instructor Trainer I took particular interest in the DART organization. This dedicated group of individuals is comprised of rescue divers, line tenders and other support personnel dedicated to responding to emergencies on a 24/7 basis. www.dartsac.org.

I asked Rob when I saw him what the inspiration was to do this event and he said it happened over time and getting to know Kelsey Follett, who is the marketing director for Riverbank Marina and was instrumental in launching the fundraiser. They came up with the idea to fund raiser for a cause that keeps the community safe as well as educated.

Rob said he expected 75 participants but over 100 showed up! He was thrilled with the support of the SUP community.

Waking up before the crack of dawn and weaving my way up the highway to Sacramento from Sausalito, I was struck by the contrast in landscapes. The lush and brilliant colors of the Bay area began to fade to very arid dry conditions. The coolness of the Bay area turned to warmer and eventually hot conditions.

The sunflowers, which normally light the way with their bright yellow color were all dried up and brown. This area has its own beauty but the long concrete highway is full of constructions zones and fast drivers, including me!

I paint this picture because as I arrived into the entrance of the Riverbank Marina I felt like I had entered an oasis. The parking lot was lined with giant shade trees that cover a large portion of the parking lot inviting birds and on this morning, a refreshing, cool breeze.

The Riverbank Marina is just up the Sacramento River from Discovery Park, which is where the American River meets the Sacramento River. Even more magical is the walk down the stairs and ramps that lead to the docks of Crawdads Restaurant.

The highway trip melted away and I was engulfed with beauty, and happy, fun people. Who should I see first but hard working Rob Macias of FLOW Standup paddle and organizer of the DART event, Scott Estrada from Whole Hearted Juice all of whom I have not seen in way too long!

I don’t think I have seen so many rescue and safety people all in about a 40 foot area! This event had so much support!

Other people supporting those on the racecourse were Beth Faust and Michael Crimmins, both of who are wonderful supporters in their communities. There are many more people I do not know the names of that were out there too.

An aspect of this event/race was that there were probably more beginners here then I had ever seen at a race. They had either never been on a board or had just started. With the guidance of Rob Macias’s and Scott Estrada’s SUP instruction there were quiet an impressive number of new paddlers.

Another aspect I found refreshing was that the solo 4.5 mile race was not timed. It goes to show that for many of us a simple bell or whistle seems to trigger the racehorse inside! The solo race took us on a 1+ mile loop, first, up river to a buoy, then down river.

The finishing order was Rob 14’, Jen Fuller 12’6, Daniel Alverez 14’, Michael Melville 12’6”, Tommy Joseph, 14’, Teresa Rogerson 14’, Michael Crimmins 14’ and Madeline King 12’6”!

Following this, the relay teams were a hoot and created quite the entertainment for those who now, at this 11am hour had gathered for lunch and lined Crawdad’s restaurant dining area just above the docks and a hands length from the competitors. The relay team Michael organized was named 51/50 Dangerous Minds – (51 50 is a legal term they use to lock crazy people up for 72 hours)…..I did not sign up for that name but I did sign up for Michael’s relay team along with Daniel Alverez, and Teresa Rogerson. A few handycaps were applied to this group which made for some more entertainment!

Many raffle tickets were sold to support the DART program.

A great event! I would recommend bringing friends and family to enjoy this next year. I had no idea! Now I do. Next time I will encourage all the people I know to come!

Thanks again to Rob Macias or FLOW Standup paddle, Kelsey Follett of Riverbank Marina, all the Safety folks, and everyone who helped out!

DART group photo


2015 Carolina Cup Race Recap

2015 Carolina Cup Race Recap

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.