Been spending the last couple of weeks talking and emailing with race directors to do a big update on the 2016 SUPCURRENTS Event & Race Calendar. I think the racing calendar looks pretty solid for 2016 with some new events however a couple of events still have not checked in. Take a gander and let me know what you think, it’s a work in progress but lets just say we have a good start to the season ahead.
It’s Wednesday, and I found my shoulders. I had left them on the side of a river in Tennessee, like so many tears and overused banjo references from people who think they know something about the south. Like my one ex from CA who tried to emulate a southern accent, then asked me with a serious eyebrow if North Carolina has a coastline. But I digress before I have even started, like so many niceties exchanged in the south before some quick question can be asked of a stranger.
Chattajack31: A mashup of Chattanooga, the event’s hometown, and “Jack” for many interpretations, all my own. One, we were all Jack’d up for this event, all 300 entrants and many wait-listed folks. What paddling event, in only its fourth year, sees 300 entries fill up within two weeks of opening registration, six months before the start horn? Two, we were all Jack’d up after the race with soreness or blisters or some other ailment. It is said that this brutal race does not leave one unscathed. Third, the field was Jack’d with fine athletes and paddling sport delegates. It was amazing just to stand amidst so much mastery. Finally, we were in Jack Daniels country, especially relative to where so many people hailed from for the race (Florida had the most racers, and plenty of winners!)
I can’t catch them.
There must be a correct reason for the “Jack” part of Chattajack, but I’ll just wait to be scolded. The “31” is for the mileage and maybe a little bit of Halloween action. It was 31-plus miles of downstream, a word which usually implies current assist. Saturday, October 24, 2015 saw very little of that. It was like a lake paddle, especially after the first couple of switchback turns. No boat wakes were available to surf either- the wakes just came from the side and accounted for much of my start-stop action on the 25.5″ wide King’s board I used (14′), thanks to Gulf Coast Paddle Company‘s super southern hospitality.
The Tennessee River Gorge, its layers of ancient rock framed by green, semi-subtropical rain forest and/or intense fall color, is prettier than many places on earth. Geologically it is just amazing. It’s very old, which you can kind of feel. California knows nothing of this sort of slow, tortuous cutting through layers of rock for eras and epochs. The way the Tennessee River twists and turns back on itself is a monument to effort over time and determined charging ahead, like so many racers on Saturday.
Of the 300 racers, there were 179 stand up paddlers on 12’6″, 14′ and unlimited. There were 14 folks running prone. SUP2 represented, including a man with his sitting child. Then there was a SUP4 family. Surfski, outrigger canoe, and kayak were all there as well. For women, there were 68 of us on stand up paddleboards, and get this: 27 were on 14′ boards! That was remarkable in itself, to have so many women to race against in my board class. Many women switched over to 14′ boards closer to the race date, but for the winning females on 12”6″, their shorter board length made no difference in their overall dominance and low times.
Just so you know, the 12’6″ and overall female winners (it was a tie, with the exact same electronically captured time to the hundredths of a second) came in less than a half hour after the top three winning men on 14′ boards. To break this down: Seychelle Hattingh and Kimberly Barnes, both from Florida, came in at 5:26:11.858, finishing this long-ass race less than ten percent behind the top three males on 14′ boards. Larry Cain, Bart deZwart, and Michael Tavares came in first, second, and third respectively, separated just by a few seconds each during the first half of the minute at 4:58. For the prone division, women killed again. California’s marathon swimmer Gracie Van der Byl was at 6:07:47, only minutes behind Reno Caldwell on his 14′ prone board at 5:58:04. Brian Pasternak took prone on his Unlimited board, at 5:24:09. Raise your hand if all of this is awesome to you. Full results can be found right here.
In a quick interview with former Olympic C-1 sprinter, capturing gold and silver for Canada in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, winner Larry Cain said the length of Chattajack is about as far as he wants to go for a race, yet second place Bart deZwart gets off on longer distance paddling. One thing that was made clear at Chattajack is that people are different. Duh, but really- no athlete is the same. Some people got massive, sweltering blisters on their hands, some nothing at all. Women rode shorter boards and were right up there with the men on longer boards. So much of the endurance game is in the mind. We just persevere. I came away 15th overall for women’s SUP, and 7th for the 14′ class; but excitedly, I think I came away with some athletes who want to join us this coming June 11, 2016 for the California100, an epic, one-day 100-mile downstream paddle race on the Sacramento River from Redding to Chico, benefiting Rivers for Change. This distance thing is beautiful.
Thanks again to Ben Friberg and partner Kimberly Sutton for directing this event, and thanks to the many not named here. I am not the only one saying that this event was the best run I’ve ever experienced. Even the next year’s date is already set for October 22, 2016! Everything ran so smoothly, and we were pampered with all sorts of swag and love and preparation and information. The raffle of an Epic V7 surfski, donated by Kayak Trader, and a 14′ SUP from BlkBox allowed the total donation to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust of over $4000 to be ten times higher than last year! The mission of the Trust is to keep the views along the Tennessee River sacred, and the water clean. If you take a look at this magical region, you’ll see why this is important, and it is working so far.
Some photos compliments of pilfering from Facebook that GoJAMMedia is probably happy about.
Battle of the Bay: That’s a Wrap!
This years Battle of the Bay was an EPIC weekend of paddle racing on San Francisco Bay. The event organizers Steve Pugh from Bluerush Boardsports and Laree Mancour delivered what could be called an unforgettable weekend of paddle racing at the Crissy Field event site. By the way putting an event on at Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco is no small feat, Steve, Laree and the entire team busted their butt through wind, a bit of rain and an impromptu low rider car show & BBQ (which was really cool btw). Way to go!
Ok here is my breakdown on the two days of racing:
The San Francisco Bay always dishes out inconsistent weather, wind and tides that make for challenging paddle conditions (and keep the event management on edge). And this years Battle of the Bay did not disappoint when it came to delivering an assortment of conditions. On Saturday, the 8.5-mile-long distance had practically perfect paddling weather with a low ceiling of clouds that kept things nice and cool and practically no wind. SUP’s prones, outriggers (OC1/2) and surf skis all raced the same course. The Open SUP Race started from the beach with sprint to the water then a very fast paced run east to Alcatraz Island, David Wells from 101 Surf Sports took an early lead and pretty much never looked back. Rounding Alcatraz was straight forward, but never, ever think that the rounding the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge will have easy passage because it wont and it didn’t. Racing up to South Tower was a grind even staying close to shore did not provide relief from the flood tide. As I was approaching the South Tower I saw David Wells hammering down towards the finish with Bojan Bernard (BB) about a minute off his tail. The water at the South Tower took its toll on folks, bubbling popcorn like water made for some paddlers to either fall in or go to the safety of their knees (for 4 strokes of course) to move from the mayhem of the tower. There was a mad dash of canoes, surf skis, prones and SUP’s from the bridge down to the last mark rounding which lead to the final right hander towards the finish line. As I came through the finish arch there was a sense of relief that the race was over. While its only 8.5 miles, it’s a hard 8.5 miles of paddling. I watched the competitors come through the line one by one, they were all smiles and had a look of satisfaction on their faces, yes many of these folks had never paddled this race course and felt a sense of accomplishment. High fives ensued.
One might argue that the best racing that day took place in the long course open class race with David Wells and BB battling it out for 1st and 2nd place with tight finishes all the way into 15th place in the men’s 14ft class division. All in there were 72 racers in the Open Class Long Distance Race. In the OC1 class, there were some tight finishes there as well with Rob Rousset and Justin Banfield battling it to the finish and Aimmee Spector and Linda Banfield taking 1st and 2nd in the womans OC1 fleet. Pro/Elite racing fleets were much smaller but highly competitive with Mo Freitas taking the long course race and Bailey Rosen gliding into first place for the woman.
Sunday was a completely different day of racing right out of the gate with San Francisco Bay doing what it does best, get really, really windy. Event orgnanizers scrambled to shorten the 4 mile technical race course into more of an upwind/downwind race that made for what I would consider some of the hardest but fun racing of the weekend. Sunny and blowing 20 knots the bay was alive with sail boats and white caps. At first, I was bummed and paddling in the nasty wind would be not so fun but the upwind downwind configuration of the course was super fun and challenging. Haakon Hoyer-Nielsen jumped out the lead and dominated the Open SUP Technical Race all the way to the end. Shanna Upton ended up taking the Open SUP Technical Race on the woman’s side.
The Pro/Elite Technical Race on the short course (3 laps) was fun to watch as Mo Freitas took the win with Bailey Rosen taking win on the woman’s side. Amazing how these paddle athletes barely look like they are struggling the a 20 knot head wind and then really open it up on the downwind leg. Big props go out to Jay Wild of Tahoe Waterman who raced in the prone race prior to racing in the Pro/Elite Technical Race, still getting 5th overall in the Tech Race. And how could I forget my friend and training partner Jen Fuller, she raced in the Pro/Elite Woman class and let the ladies know that age does not affect performance, well done Jen!
This was my 4th Battle of the Bay, I helped put on the inaugural race in 2011 at McNears Beach and have competed in every Battle of the Bay since then. I know what it takes to put these races on and many thanks (again) go out to Bluerush Boardsports and all of the sponsors:, World Paddle Association, Salt Life, Desolation Outdoors, F-One Stand Up Paddle, Paragon Commercial Brokerage, Bluewater Yacht Harbor, Kings Paddle Sports PR, Hobie Surfboards, OnIt Pro, Just Add Water SUP, Lagunitas Brewing Co, SUP Currents, Stokeshare, Sean Cope Pictures, Hint Water, Adventure Sports Journal, OneBar, Nature’s Bakery and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, hope I did not forget anyone. Chris Hollingsworth and Barrett Tester, yeah you guys are pros, these guys run races in their sleep, thanks!
Here is to the off season!
Pictures are courtesy of OnitPro, Thanks for capturing the moments! See more great pic from Onit Pro here
Race Results on Paddle Guru
Training Peaks GPS Data using the NK SpeedCoach
SUPRACER.COM Race Article
RaceHub Pictures sponsored by West Marine
Monterey Bay Crossing Outrigger Canoe Race (MBX)
By Teresa Rogerson
I figured the rigor of a long outrigger canoe race across the Monterey Bay, run “iron” without any paddler changes, would be a boon to my stand up paddle stroke and stoke. It was. A super fast cadence in our OC-6, especially when Judy was “stroke”, kept me not so much on my toes, as sitting and reaching with a major quickness. It’s all about anticipating the “catch,” which I would say was one of my best learnings to come out of college. Not so many boy loot caught, but plenty of water pulled on the rowing team most of my four years in Chattanooga, TN.
This is not my personal bio, sorry. Back to the Monterey Bay, which happens to be where I lived the first decade of the 2000’s and used to surf kayak and compete at the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival back when it was just for surf kayaks— gah, sorry, ok. Sitting out on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in the fog, chilly on a Saturday early fall October 3rd morning, squeezed like six peas into a pea pod-shaped outrigger, with the “ama” out over our left side (the steerswoman was always saying “Keep the ama light!”); we awaited the horn for the start of the 22 nautical mile slog across the Monterey Bay.
Our team consisted of four outrigger veterans, a surf ski paddler, and myself (see bio above). I had opened my mouth a week or so prior about wanting to do the race, and magic happened, again because of Judy’s quickness. Becky flew up from San Diego, and we had a group who had never paddled together before. Two of us had either paddled outrigger only one time (myself), or Kristen (total paddler champ, btw) who had paddled in an outrigger about five times total. Amazingly, we were pretty spot on, and the veterans in the boat agreed!
We had a couple of brownie points going for our team. A) As discussed, we were tossed together like salad and we made it happen. B) We were in a “traditional“ canoe, while others in their hot, “unlimited” canoes were pulling so much less weight owing to their carbon fiber layup. We were very heavy, but managed to pass most of those other folks, and steer a lot better as well. C) We did the crossing “iron”, meaning we did not change out any paddlers. Other canoes swapped paddlers for relief, requiring a chase boat and awkward exchanges, but we just ironed it across.
We did stop about two-thirds of the way to relieve our steers-woman Becky and let her paddle some. Judy crawled forwards to be stroke, and Daphne crawled back over all of our heads along the gunnels to steer from the rear. Stefanie went from being a great stroke to seat 2. I stayed put and ate a granola bar, and got ready to splash the back of my new victim, Becky. Every hour we did a rotation of feeding, where one person at a time would stop paddling for about 30 seconds to stuff something into their mouth and pick the paddle up again and hammer while still chewing.
Of course the sun didn’t come out until after we were done. I was reminded of the Tahoe crossing last month, where there was no land to be seen and the water stayed that deep, mysterious marine blue. It was that way this time too. A couple of us managed to see a huge, white jellyfish pass under us, and we saw the breaching of Humpback Whales a few times, but perhaps the most interesting was the massive flock of birds that gathered on the surface of the water well ahead of us in the misty fog. It was something I definitely did not want to pass through, as it seemed apocalyptic, but it spoke of that open ocean vastness and beauty, and importantly like a beacon of forward progress since we only had devices and no landmarks to reference.
There was certainly swell, and a handy little small craft warning that was looming, starting at noon. We opted for the sprayskirts, for safety and warmth. To get them onto the canoe, you have to feed a rigid bungee covered with the stiff skirt material, through a gutted channel along the gunnel of the canoe. It takes the entire crew working in unison to pull with the same force and speed to feed the skirt through. If it is not perfect teamwork, the skirt does not go on. So this was the first test of togetherness, and we found out late that it only goes on in one direction. Turns out that the swell only helped us, and gave us that feeling of being very small in a very big place. We got some push from those swells, and that is the best part of the reason I paddle- to ride nature.
We finished with a 4:20 crossing time, which we are quite proud of, considering all. Kona Brewing handed out keepsake cups and free beers, we had limitless coconut water and a great hot lunch. Raffle prizes were excellent, and we have to mention our good friend and sherpa Tony Mueller. He himself is already a bit legendary for making the boards he he uses to win his races, but he agreed to take our shuttle vehicle and all of our girl stuff down to Monterey so that we could roll back home on our own schedule.
Thank you to all who organized and sponsored this event, and to our crew: Becky Sox, Kristen Podolak, Judy Jennings, Daphne Hougard, and Stefanie Gerstbacher and myself. And thanks to the Aloha spirit in general. I have to believe in that spirit, because it is immediately self-evident when deployed. There’s no way this race would have happened for us without that instant aloha sharing and caring. Mahalo!
October 12, 2015
While I wish I had gone to the Pacific Paddle Games at Doheny in Dana Point I was doing the next best thing, racing at the 101 Surf Sports Oktoberfest Paddle Race. The guys (Cort and David) have mastered the art of putting on a very well run race with on time race starts, timely results, and of course good food & beer. Everything went down like clockwork yesterday and was a good tune up for the Battle of the Bay race next weekend at Crissy Field.
What’s always refreshing to see at the 101 Surf Sports races is the amount of first time racers, think I counted over 20 folks when David Wells called on the new racers to raise their hands. The San Rafael Canal/Creek is a safe place to test yourself in a paddle race environment, not to mention have a ton of fun while before, during and after the race. The canal also allows a paddle racer (beginner or expert) to practice the course and then see measurable improvement from race to race. Oh and the canal is almost always sunny and warm.
Fun morning of paddle racing with lots of friends, no matter what its always better to race in a pack of racers rather than by yourself. Yesterdays race was no exception. I battled it out with Jamie Willin the whole race, I mean the entire one hour and 2 minutes of racing. We caught and passed Daniel Alvarez once we got inside the 1 mile mark of the canal, but Daniel put up a nasty fight all the way to the finish. Way to go boys those are fun times.
Let’s have fun at Battle of the Bay, should be some fun racing.
Thanks to the whole crew at 101 Surf Sports, David, Cort, Pete, Tom, Derek (I am probably forgetting someone)
And the sponsors….Marin Brewing, Whole Foods, Mamies Pies, Hint Water
Results for Short and Long Courses.
Training Peaks GPS Data from Suunto Ambit 3
David Wells Race Recap
Photo by Ron Steinau
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!