Battle of the Bay: Race Report and Recap

Battle of the Bay: Race Report and Recap

battle of bay vf

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 AssociationSalt 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, OneBarNature’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!

haakon short race fred and kate

Here is to the off season!


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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


RaceHub Pictures sponsored by West Marine

101 Surf Sports Oktoberfest Paddle Race Recap

101 Surf Sports Oktoberfest Paddle Race Recap

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

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

Tahoe Cup Fall Classic (22 miler)

Tahoe Cup Fall Classic (22 miler)

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A smokey start at the Fall Classic


The Tahoe Cup Fall Classic

The Fall Classic is one of those races you love to hate. Love the race when you are finished but hate it when you are at the 18 mile mark and have basically blown up. At least thats what happened to me for the past two years. This year I decided to take break from The Fall Classic, not a decision I pondered lightly but judging from race reports, pictures and other various social media data I would say I missed one of the hardest Fall Classic’s in history. Smoke, headwinds and difficult navigation made for a very, very tough crossing.

To tell the story and relive her experience of racing across the Big Blue, I have asked esteemed female SUP paddler (2nd place Woman SUP) and the new Cal 100 Race Director Teresa Rogerson to give us her recap of the day.

Tahoe Cup Lake Crossing by Teresa Rogerson

The 2015 Fall Tahoe Classic 22 mile south to north lake crossing: I guess it was kind of like SUP’ping confused open ocean chop, with no sight of land or sky in any direction, surrounded by and breathing in the smoke from burning lands, guided directionally by kind spirit guides on jet skis. It has been a long time since I have felt as >>out there<< as I felt out in the middle of Lake Tahoe last Sunday. For the first time ever, my Garmin was not programmed to show the distance I had already paddled (don’t change strategies on a race day), so I felt even further afield in the aquarium.

I could see water and I could see other paddlers ahead of me like kachina dolls ghosting over the blurred surface, shifting en masse when the bunch got word from the spirit guides on jet skis, that they were all off course, and to line up with the two boats holding the direct line. Thanks to the fast kachina dudes, I only had to arc a few degrees to be on course. I could hear Andi Traynor as she came up from behind me, yet a second time, to eventually surpass and win the race for the women. She was singing out loud, maybe Aretha. The sound shot over the water, over all of the chop, and the side chop, and the diagonal double back chop, straight forward through the six or seven knot headwind, and it got louder and louder as she gained on me.

Okay, so maybe that was just the mind-bent portion of the race, only about the 18 miles in the middle of the race. The other few miles- less than four because the Lake has shrunken due to a drought(!)- those miles were serene and eerily quiet. In the morning, I guess we could see maybe a mile out into the Lake from El Dorado Beach, when     race director       diagrammed the route and the landmarks we would look for on the North side. The weather report at about three or four miles out, we were assured, was bluebird, so we started off with the horn and the usual jockeying for draft positions. We never did get bluebird, but we did get a six or seven knot headwind, maybe a hundred drops of rain, and enough funny water that drafting became difficult. Unfortunately, the blues for which Tahoe is so famous didn’t sparkle about, as the overcast day flattened everything to greys and a nice, 5.5-hour session with navy blue.

Having said all this, I would never change my decision to have raced. It was amazing, and as usual I am humbled and inspired, and satisfied by the experience and by the people who show up. There is so much gratitude among the paddlers for the skillful work of Jay and Anik Wild, and to the crew of spirit guides who allowed people their pace, and herded us all to eventual safety. Several athletes backed out, fearing for their bronchial; and judging by the din in South Lake Tahoe the night before and the morning of the race, those were not unwise decisions. It left more fig bars for us, but it meant fewer boards at the lineup. Some athletes had to turn back or surrender and be brought in, not too surprising as conditions were the worst ever for this race. The heroes were the ones who came in by themselves, later at about seven hours, after refusing to give up, after most of us had moved on to beer and hearing stories about the sponsors’ tents blowing over in windstorms on Kings Beach just hours before, canceling the kids’ race and threatening the continuation of our race.

These long suffering heroes each finished solo, reaching shore after having taken accidental detours in the haze, or having gotten sea sick out there without a horizon to use as a reference point. On the beach, we made paddle arches for them as they came ashore and ran through, obviously glad to be finished and looking so fresh doing so. They were given complimentary entries into the race next year and seemed happy about it.

The skies cleared and the sun got strangely hot, as we swilled a couple of craft brews and ate yummy wraps and cookies provided by Cold Water Brewery and Grill. A BARK Commander prone board was raffled off. A shuttle was provided for paddlers and boards, and most of the world seemed a happy place. News of the latest Valley Fire ravaging Lake County, however, was a constant reminder on many minds throughout the paddle.

Race Results

Pictures from Facebook

Garmin Data is forthcoming.

2015 Subaru Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival presented by Nature’s Bakery – Recap

2015 Subaru Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival presented by Nature’s Bakery – Recap

9th Annual Tahoe Nalu Paddle Festival


The 9th Annual 2015  Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival coins itself as the Worlds Original Standup Paddleboard Race and that it is. Speaking from experience, my first standup paddle race was the Tahoe Nalu back in 2009, I have the event t-shirt to prove it. Since that first race in 2009 I have been committed lots of paddle races in California, Hawaii and Utah but always call The Ta-Hoe Nalu home. As my previous post explained, the Nalu has seen oh so many changes over the last 6 years since that race in 2009. This years 9th Annual Tahoe Nalu carried the same cool paddle festival vibe that I always remember. Hosted again in Kings Beach on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe over 250 paddlers took to the Big Blue in outrigger canoes, on standup and prone paddle boards.

On Saturday morning, the 10 mile race took off around 9:30am with staggered starts amongst the different paddle craft. For this race I chose to paddle an outrigger canoe (Ehukai-Puakea). There were a couple of OC-6’s and around 16 OC-1/2’s. Pretty strong field of paddlers I soon found out. SUP and Prones started about 4 minutes after us. It was a glorious day on the water, almost no wind and relatively flat for the speedy run into Crystal Bay. Deep, crystal clear water greeted us as we made the final buoy turns at the half way turn around point of the race. Being somewhat of a newbie to the OC-1 scene I was just trying to keep up with a pod of three other canoes including standup paddler Nina Oakley, she was making me work all the way to the finish. I had a great vantage point of the lead standup paddlers as they were behind us. Rand Carter was off the front on his unlimited board with Keith McConaughey a minute or so back on a 14ft board. Fast times on fast water was the talk of the morning race. Full results by class from the 10 mile race are here. But wait the day was not over as there was a 2 Mile Race and a Grom race that went off in the morning and early afternoon, here are the results for the Grom Race and the 2 Mile Race.

The highlight of Saturday besides the racing was the killer food court Ernie Brassard assembled, great food vendors offered up bacon wrapped hot dogs, crepes, sushi and other assorted delectables. Of course a good food court was not complete without the Kona Brewing Beer tent, I had a couple of those with my buddy Brian Thomas, in fact I had a couple beer right before the Waterman’s Challenge event in the afternoon. What’s the Watermans Challenge you ask? Pretend you are a Aussie/US Lifeguard, this event is how they challenge their waterman skill in swimming, then prone paddling then finish it up with some standup paddle. 4 person heats, no wetsuits and absolutely flat out as hard as you can go.  Jay Wild organized this event and frankly it’s a blast but you better be ready to hurl afterwards. And don’t drink beers or eat hot dogs prior to racing! Had good fun but training is advisable.

The Ta-Hoe Nalu is one fun weekend but still seems to be finding its way amongst so many other paddle races happening in the month of August. Many paddlers chose to head to the Columbia  Gorge for the Gorge Paddle Challenge which happen this coming weekend. Too many races in close proximity is becoming an issue and unfortunately dilutes all of the races collectively.   More on this topic at a later date.

Can’t finish this recap without paying homage to Jay and Anik Wild for their incredible work they are doing with Tahoe Waterman. Their athletes d(young and old) are true waterman/waterwoman who work hard and their hard work pays off with impressive results.

Chris Hollingsworth you are the master MC, superb work this past weekend at the Nalu. Always nice to see you and your family. Ernie Brassard many thanks for your continued and undying support of paddling, specifically standup paddle. The Nalu is the event that started it all. Many thanks to all of the exhibitors and sponsors of the Tahoe Nalu this year.  And last but not least Big Sky Endurance Timing, thank you.

GPS Data in Training Peaks-10 mile race in outrigger

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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.

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