Oct 3, 2012

Battle of the Paddle: Dana Point California

View from the Starboard team House. I heart beaches

When I came back on the scene of SUP after a year away in China.... The BOP was not on my list of races to do this fall. I knew I hadn't surfed since probably two years ago and so much of the race depends on the ability to read waves, catch them and ride them.... The BOP is a really great event but it does cost A LOT of money to enter the races. I spent money on getting there etc but I still couldn't bring myself to lay down the $$$ for the elite short course. I just wasnt mentally confident enough to regularly catch and surf in waves most of the time. Right now catching and surfing a wave is more in the hands of chance than skill. I am hoping to practice surfing throughout the winter and change this.... So, the money bothered me BUT I wanted to be on that start line up BUT it would show me nothing other than I could finish and I know I could finish.hmmm... I had to make a choice....

lots of people on the water...

The OPEN race.
A whole bunch of craziness!!!!! What happens when 400 paddlers paddle around a circle five times?.... I think you need to experience it yourself to fully understand. Some called it a huge human whirlpool and others just plain chaos....
At the start of the race, I didn't even get butterflies in my stomach.... no pressure, no tension, no nervousness (other than not really understanding how it would actually work with so many paddlers out on the water at the same time?!?... ) The start signal went and I just hammered away.. I wanted to sprint out of the mess from the start:)  Luckily we only had a minimal amount of small surf breaks to get out to the first bouy, unluckily for some paddlers they managed to get caught in a big pile of a mess around the first bouy... I stayed WIDE and far away from that scene as I didn't want any part of that. I consistently paid attention to others and tried to react to their movements in order for me to stay upright and not get caught in a battle field of people and boards. I did fairly well until on the last length a man in front of me fell and tipped me in.... oh well... its all part of the game!...and then again I fell on a wave riding in to shore but did manage to catch the next one and rolled in with the ever so famous Gerry Lopez. I found myself with a first place prize and my confidence boosted!  I was on a Starboard carbon BOP 12'6x26.5 board. A board I enjoy in the chop and swell. I find the BOP board light and stable yet maneuverable. It was my first race with my new Werner Grand Prix Paddle and so far it felt good in my hands. The shaft is slightly longer than I am used to and I think it helped with my reach which is great!  It is super light weight and think it definitely helped me get out in front throughout the start of the race.
Start of Open Race Photo by Jason Lexa

Open race madness Photo by Jason Lexa

Photo by Shannon Bell Running in with Gerry Lopez in the background!

winning my 1st place prize for Open race with Sparky and Gerry Lopez

Karly and I with our prizes. Photo by Mike Darbyshire

Open Race Award

The DISTANCE race.
Coming into the BOP event I knew the distance race was the event where I had a better chance to flourish and really test myself against the best. Less luck would be involved and more just hard good ol fashion grit and mental tenacity. I kind of expected to finish somewhere around maybe 10th or so and would have been content with a top 10 placing among the elite women. The start was a water start and it was a little mental with people sneaking forward, the officials making people move back, forced to sit, and the skidoos infront of the line making waves and then somewhere in the mix of all that there was a GO! and...we were off. I truly just concentrated on my stroke, my balance, my hydration and going in the right direction. Once we started, the waves and people made it too difficult to concentrate on anything else but staying upright on my board. After the first few minutes of banging boards and crazy waters I kind of fell into a rhythm... I looked up and then saw Jenny Kambalch, a truly accomplished SUP racer right there beside me.. My first thoughts were "oh she must be having a bad day cause I am so close to her"... I then saw Brandi Baksic, another amazing SUP racer, just ahead and got some jitters as I realized it would be kind of unlikely that they both were having bad days at the same time...maybe I was having a good day:) So, I got on the end of the drafting train behind Jenny and some boys. In this race anyone could draft anyone.... I was gettting excited and maybe got a little too exctied because the next thing I knew I was in the water and the fast train had just pulled away from me :( I shook it off and got back on my board and just put my head down and started to paddle again.  I got some drafting here and there but it seemed as though I was in an empty space with not too many guys or gals really around to draft.... hmmm... I sipped my NUUN more than usual... the heat was getting to me and my stomach was growling. The water was tough throughout the entire course, swell and random chop made it tough to keep a straight line. I rarely get sore legs but I was feeling it with all the micro movements needed to stay on top of the water rather than in the water. Slowly though I could see Jenny and Brandi and their clan moving farther and farther away from me. It was frustrating as drafting really does help and there just wasn't a train for me so on I pushed by myself. I rounded the last bouy and sort of luckily for me I was in between sets. This did mean I had to paddle all the way into shore without a free ride form a wave but it also meant no carnage...:) My Werner Grand Prix helped me paddle hard into shore. I proudly found out I was the 5th girl across the line. 5th elite women!  It felt really good. I am totally stoked!
Comin in at the end of Distance Race photo:Jason Lexa

Distance Race photo: jason Lexa

Running into 5th place women elite photo:Jason Lexa

Pretty Stoked after the distance race photo: Jason Lexa

I heart Team Canada! Mike Darbyshire, Norm Hann, Gary Parsons and myself created a Team Canada for the relay race. We raced on a starboard BOP 12'6x26.5 carbon board. I wanted a leash so Mike D created a system that I could take on and off the board as the other badass surfers didnt need one! One day maybe I will be confident enough in the surf that I won't need a leash either:) I loved the relay race! The carnage, the crowds, the team aspect... all of it! Team Canada came in 10th out of about 50 teams! YAY CANADA!

Team Canada Relay Team: Gary, Mike, me, Norm photo by Karly Cox

Me waiting my turn photo by Karly Cox

Mike running photo by Karly Cox

Gary photo: Karly Cox

Heading out to paddle photo: Karly Cox

most of the Canadians at BOP but not all... CANADA ROCKS!

*Trident Sports and Starboard for helping me out with boards and accomodations and for being a really fun cool team to hand out with!
*Nikki Rekman sales and Werner Paddles for providing me with a stellar Grand Prix Paddle that helped me get to where I needed to get to(start line to finish line..) quickly!
*Ryders Eyewear for protecting my eyes while chillin on the beach and at the beer tent:)
*Laiph Clothing for bringing me on as an ambassador to what seems to be an amazing team. I look forward to being part of the team!
*Mike Darbyshire for driving us around and just being awesome
*Dan Gavere for organizing us athletes getting us boards, food, and ensuring we were having a good time
*All the amazing people, the community, and the stoke!
*ANDREW my hubby for encouraging me to go to the race and being awesome in every way possible! LOVE YOU

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!


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