The East Coast Sup Cup and the East Of Maui DE race were both challenging and a lot of fun. Here is a write up from ABC Weatherman Wyatt Everhart and below that is a write up from Annapolis paddler Neil MaCindoe. Posting a few cool shots from Walk on Waters fb page see the rest here https://www.facebook.com/WalkOnWaterOC . Great job Sandy, Ron, Beth, and Aflred for organizing a great weekend.
Wyatt Everharts blog post on ABC NEW
“On Saturday, stand up paddlers from across the Mid-Atlantic and beyond converged on North Divison Street in Ocean City, MD for the second annual Ocean Games & the first ever “Battle of the Paddle” style ocean stand up paddle race to take place in Maryland’s summer capital.
This was a new event that would be an addition to the already demanding open water swim, which had been the core of the first Ocean Games last summer.
It was a huge success by all indications, with a very strong turn out for a first time event. That’s fantastic when you consider many paddlers from the region had never stand up paddled in the ocean before, let alone raced in it!
To add to this unique (and for many new) challenge, the Atlantic Ocean was offering up anything but it’s normal late July doldrums.
The day before, there was maybe a 2-foot ground swell, but the wind was calm and the chop was almost non existent. However, by the morning of the event, a gusty Northeast wind had whipped up considerable chop, and the ground swell had gotten bigger, easily 3 feet with slightly bigger set waves.
Moreover, around race start time Saturday morning, the tide was fairly high and we had those shoulder high set waves dumping hard right on the beach! Before racers could even begin or get to their 4 mile (or 2 mile) race loop several hundred yards offshore, they would have to pierce through these walls of water with their boards, paddles, pfds, and hydration packs, and hope it all somehow stayed together!
Most succeeded in doing just that. I did see a few boards take some damage in the surf zone, but overall, every racer seemed to get out and at least accomplish the course they signed up for!
Many thanks the Ocean Games crew & Walk on Water staff for putting on such a great event and memorable experience. With any luck, this Maryland ocean going SUP race will now become an annual & growing event!”
See more of Wyatt’s blogs here http://www.abc2news.com/weather/weather-blogs/east-coast-sup-cup-a-huge-success
From Neil Macindoe on the East Of Maui 10 miler
“Today, Wyatt and I talked ourselves into the 10 miler, got cocky because forecast sounded the same as yesterday and we figured we could handle it. I counted 17 at start, ocean rough but not extreme. A few people turned back right after the start and some at the 3 mile mark. After 3 miles, the wind ramped up to 25+ with gusts, we had BIG overhead ocean swells and NE whitecaps pushing us back onto the beach. The lead group got up to the Cape and made the turn ahead of the worst of the wind, but we just got stuck and were going nowhere. I could see Shendan Grove and Corrine Banks ahead of us, they were not moving either. We all pulled into the last takeout point at mile 6, we just could not get through the last mile of whitewater to make the turn. Got picked up by shuttle, and at the finish I think 6 or 7 people made it? I think it was Ron Gossard first, April 2nd, and then Mark Nelson, Goose, another guy and Shendan. Incredible that Shendan made it around, he did a fantastic job in those conditions, I have never seen the ocean like that. ”
Wyatt again on the 10 miler
If you’ve followed me online & on air , you know I’ve got pretty into stand up paddling (SUP), as well as SUP racing, over the past two years.
I’ve done about 10 races at this point, and I must say rarely are the conditions “calm” or “glassy smooth” as many might wish on race days. In fact, they are usually at least moderately windy / rough in our area, whether you are along the Chesapeake, in the coastal bays, or of course, out in the ocean.
Also, as your race waiver often says, “weather, wind & sea state often change during the course of a race.”
That’s very true. However, this years 2nd annual “Cape SUP Challenge,” (which runs a 10 mile course from Dewey Beach to Lewes Delaware), would take this concept to an entirely new level.
And by the time their respective race was over, I doubt any of roughly 20 paddlers who had the courage to take on the Challenge, would ever forget the experience.
We lined up for a beach start at Dewey Beach at the end of St. Louis street. We’d be going out through the surf zone, then north, 10 miles around Cape Henlopen and into Lewes Bay. It was 9:15am and at that point the winds were steady north around 10, gusting to 15, with overcast skies and a swell of about 3 feet.
Conditions were pretty tough, but most of us were able to make good forward progress north past Dewey Beach as well as past Rehoboth beach. However, a handful of racers with very narrow or unstable boards had to turn back for Dewey within the first mile or so.
THE MOUNTAIN GETS STEEPER:
Just a little over an hour into the race, the wind and swell started to ramp up steadily. More and more paddlers were beginning to take the occasional “involuntary swim.”
You definitely had to paddle harder just to maintain a roughly equal amount of speed, and you also had to start reading water a little more intensely ahead of you to avoid surprises.
One experienced paddler signals the safety boat he was headed in for the World War II towers. This was the 1st designated bail out point, and roughly the 3 mile mark.
At roughly 2 hours into the race, the winds started to increase even more dramatically, and also turn a bit harder easterly / onshore. The swell / set waves came up simultaneously, making for huge troughs and numerous white caps. As we approached the Naval Jetty, a known high surf zone, there were also some waves breaking out well beyond the surf zone.
It was beyond ugly, and getting uglier by the minute. Many had resorted to knee paddling to try to get below the gail force winds as well as increase their stability. But waves that were now approaching 5-6 feet would knock many off their boards even when in this modified stance.
The 2nd (and final) “bail out” point in the race was designated as the Naval Jetty. And at this point about a half dozen of us had no choice but to use it.
(The Cape wind chart (attached) from that morning show the phenomenal wind surge in amazing detail).
The bottom line seemed to be, if you could not get close to the Cape turn by 11:30am or so, you simply were not going to be able to overcome the increased wind field. The early race leaders we’re able to get far enough up the DE coast to eventually make the turn, but the mid-pack back would not be so fortunate.
THE AFTERMATH: (THE RACERS, IN THEIR OWN WORDS)
Ron G: (of Walk on Water ) “Killer 10 mile ocean race yesterday put on by East of Maui Surf Shop. Thanks to Alfred and crew for putting on the race. Conditions got a little gnarly but fortunate to get 1stoverall. Great job Mark and Goose; and all the competitors that raced, attempted or even thought about doing the race. I guess they call it the cape challenge for a reason!”