WRV DOLPHIN DASH
By: Basil Tydings
Photo: Steve Dullack
Saturday morning the alarm went off at 4:45 am and rang out: “It’s race time you cold-water lily!! Get out of bed and get your feet wet!” And that is exactly what I did…
The drive down Route 13 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia certainly has a quiet beauty to it. I love the stillness one encounters during the pre-dawn hours when very few cars are hitting the road. I love the uniqueness of the area and look forward to the occasional chances I get to head east-southeast. I love the idea of retiring in one of those little towns where there are no wireless-communications stores and a trip to the market is more than a notion. Once I had the best on-the-road cup of coffee EVER at a little place in some town on the east side of Route 13 I knew I had found mecca. You gotta stop in there sometime and you’ll know the joint when you pass by it!
All the peaceful easy feelings ended as soon as I arrived in Virginia Beach. I am not too familiar with the area and the wind picked up as well. The location of the event was right smack dab in the middle of everything and due to the sun shining brightly, people were ready to head to the beach. I had no idea where to park or what the currents would be like in Rudee Inlet or if I could actually paddle 7.5 miles. As I was looking around for either a familiar face or a sign alerting me where to go, and all the while hoping not to hit a pedestrian, a guy jumps into the street and points me over to the curb.
“Hey, man, you racing today?”
“I am,” I replied.
“I’ll take your board down to the beach and here is your parking pass. Once you get settled you’ll see your board on the right side of the event.”
I was stunned. Curbside service at a SUP race!!?? I headed for free parking and gathered my gear then walked all of one block back to the event site where I saw Mark Nelson and a bunch of hot chicks dressed in tight-fitting WRV shirts. Being the loving and blessed husband I am, I immediately went over and started talking to Mark about pacing yourself, hydration, race course nutrition, and fins…
Soon enough more people started to show up. Steve Dullack arrived, as did Bobby A. and his lovely family (his daughter now rides the MHL I rode last year), and the infamous Ivan who we see posting videos on Facebook of him paddling all winter in all kind of crazy conditions. Ivan should be an inspiration to us all! Billy Miller showed up and dropped an awesome looking board made by JP Australia on the sand and I thought to myself…that board looks dangerous. To sum it all up, good people and a whole lot of good vibes were being shared as the wind really started to pick up.
At the 5-minute warning before the start, the clean conditions that were predicted by swellinfo.com were to be no more. This race was going to be BRUTAL and all I did was praise God that I had not picked the 13 mile Elite race to try on this particular day.
At the sound of the horn we, both the 7.5 and 13 milers, were off for a short sprint to the ocean. Of course once we hit the water, I fell and then I had trouble getting back on my board, thrashing around like a complete chopper 15 seconds into the race. The worst part about all this is that there was no whitewater so there wasn’t any good excuse for falling other than operator error. I did manage to recover and rounded the first buoy in 4th place overall. Billy Miller and Mike Tavares took off with reckless abandon and Steve Dullack was next in line.
The first leg was about 2.5 miles upwind to Rudee Inlet. It was a beat down but not too bad. The 2014 Starboard All Star was a great board for me to ride on the ocean. I have always had balance issues in chop and the Starboard kept me on my feet…most of the time. I only fell when I wasn’t moving my feet and working my board as I should have been.
At the mouth of the inlet I fell again and lost Steve, we were having a good battle for a bit, in the process. Further into the inlet portion of the course, which seemed to go on forever, a guy on a grey BARK passed me. I don’t like flat-water sections!
Back out to the ocean we went and the wind had picked up even more, as did the chop. Glides were to be had as we now had the wind behind us off our right shoulders. Steve took off in the downwind section and the guy on the BARK and I had a good battle but he stayed on his board more than I stayed on mine. I was working hard to keep up with the guys doing the Elite course but they were really kicking some serious butt out there!
I went in at the buoy to end the 7.5-mile race and grabbed my leash to go back out and cheer on the other competitors. I entered this race and made it my first anaerobic workout of the season in order to see where I stand. I stand along the lines of: it’s time to add a whole lot of anaerobic workouts to the program!!
Billy Miller absolutely KA-RUSHED the 13-mile course. I told you that board looked dangerous! Those guys had a 3+ mile upwind battle to fight in order to get back to the finish line. Just thinking about what all those guys in the Elite race went through makes me shudder. It was a great ocean course but a brutal one on May 3, 2014 from 11:30 am until 3:30pm. After Billy, came Mike Tavares and Steve Dullack. Maryland’s own Mark Nelson rounded out the top 5 and had the fastest sprint up the beach of anyone! Great job to represent the Old Line State well down in the Commonwealth!
Much kudos have to go to the folks at the WRV Store in Virginia Beach. They put on a great event and made sure all who entered were well taken care of. Safety boats and hydration stations were always close by. WRV really took care of entrants with swag as well. A lot of race directors are charging crazy fees and giving out some pretty pathetic goody bags in return for our participation in their events. There are a lot of races I will not go to anymore because I am sick of driving to events and paying $75.00 to race 6 miles and get a t-shirt that some outlet couldn’t sell in the first place. The folks at WRV wanted to make sure that their event provided fun goodies and top-rate customer service. There were a bunch of photographers taking pictures so I am sure they will be posted on Facebook soon. It really was a well-run event and I didn’t even stay for the free beer and apps! You arrived and got a goody bag and you left and got some more swag. Race directors take notice! XCEL and WRV provided a lot of the goodies so they will get my continued support in the future as will this event!!
Everybody who participated in any of the 3 courses should have left the WRV Dolphin Dash with a great sense of accomplishment. Not only did we hit the ocean and paddle across her in adverse conditions, we also showed a whole lot of people just how awesome this sport is. The beach was pretty crowded for May so I hope those people took notice and saw all the smiles on the faces of all of us who ran up that beach. We are a crazy tribe of people who love getting out on the water and do so in any and all conditions. Great job to all the entrants and many thanks to all the good folks at the WRV Store and anyone else that helped put on this event.