The Stand Up Paddleboard season has officially kicked off. Following the Carolina Cup, weekend events have started picking up and it becomes a bit difficult to fit them ALL into your schedule. Cousin Mullet provided a glimpse into this past weekend’s activities (http://www.distressedmullet.com/sup-stuff-weekend) and the coming weekends are all going to be just about as packed.

I had the chance to do a double header this weekend, thanks to Dawn holding the Surf Swap Challenge on a Sunday, as she has every year. Friday morning Corey and I packed up the car, the story would have been more interesting if we had packed Patty Davis into the car too, but there were scheduling conflicts. We hit the road to drive all the way from Wilmington, NC to Westport, CT for the Soundsurfer Waterman’s Challenge. One of the reasons I picked this race was because in it’s preview on the Mullet they mentioned the various charities that this event supported. I like to support events that support good things. Other things I look for in a race are the location, the challenge, the competition, and the community. However, sometimes, just doing a new or different race is reason enough. This was different for me, to get out of North Carolina and all the way up to the northeast.

I had never been to Connecticut, or anywhere near there, really. Beforehand I had the common sense to check the weather and water temperatures for once, I usually show up in a bikini when I need pants and a jacket! The water was going to be chilly, but the air a balmy 70. Corey and I arrived at the race site after driving for 12 hours and sleeping a little in the recommended hotel. The site was great, with food options, little shops, and easy access to the water. As we waited for the race to start, the wind continued to pick up. By the time we paddled out, it was HOWLING! The race and the competition were challenging. Right off the line Dani Schmidt from 404 and Stephanie Shideler were out in front and moving fast. I drafted Stephanie long enough to catch up to Dani, which was about the same time that we turned a rocky corner head-on into the wind. Drafting doesn’t work in conditions like that, so I cut hard left and made my move. I dug deep, but could see those two on my left side the entire 3 mile upwind grind. We were neck and neck all the way up to the buoy. Somewhere along the way I saw Fernando Stalla, already headed back downwind to take the win in the Men’s Elite class. I was the first female to the buoy, the chop was terrible, but I stepped back anyway. I made the turn and then… about to fall in the water… realized how cold it was and that the other two girls were right there. I used my backside brace and prevented my fall! I was STOKED! After the turn, I think I heard a few folks fall in, and I high-tailed it downwind catching bumps and linking them together. I was so thankful for the downwind run for about 3 miles, and crossed the finish line exhausted, but happy.

Mullets were in attendance at all of this weekend’s events on the east coast; Mark Colino was at the Soundsurfer, Ed Pierce and his grandson Caden did Bliss On the Bay, and Billy Miller and the Gassetts were at the OBX Paddle Palooza.

Corey and I drove from Westport on Saturday to Ocean City, MD on Sunday. While on I-95 we saw the crew from SUP Cayuga making the trip down. They had also been at Soundsurfer. We all waved wildly at each other. I was happy to make it to Ocean City after 6 hours in the car. The hotel for the race overlooked the course, and when we woke up we could see the sound glistening in the morning sun. Today Corey would race, too. With a little fatigue in my arms from the Soundsurfer, I packed my bags, my hydration pack, and my paddle to head over to the race. Dawn was collecting day-of registrations inside Fager’s Island. Somehow, even with numerous day-of registrations, a new timing system, and a new way to report her results this year when the race was over the PaddleGuru results were up within an hour, and then the awards ceremony started promptly after the Kid’s and Relay races. Dawn is a BOSS! The race was a ton of fun, and somehow I couldn’t catch Corey, I swear that never happens… Spousal rivalry! Afterwards, the food and atmosphere at Fager’s Island was perfect, with a few small, local vendors with unique gear or jewelry and the surfboard swap to peruse. We would have stayed longer, but the road was calling. Like a telemarketer, the calling of the road was annoying and I wanted to pretend I wasn’t there. But you have to get back home somehow.

This weekend had a ton of events, and it is always difficult to pick. Sometimes its where your friends are going, sometimes its charity, sometimes its travel, and sometimes its because you want to support local. As always, whatever races you choose, you’re sure to have a great time, meet awesome paddle people, and support a few good causes.

Let’s hear it Mullets? Where did you head off to last weekend? Where are you going this weekend?

Soundsurfer Waterman’s Challenge & Surf Swap Challenge

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