Friday, September 28, 2012

The Arena

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

That quote is dedicated to my friend Bill and everyone else who competed at the Lake Murray SUP Classic (SC) last weekend.  Its also dedicated to anyone who lays it on the line to compete at any level in windsurfing and SUP.

I love to windsurf and I started stand up paddling as a way to be on the water when the wind isn't blowing.  The cruel irony is that easily over half the SUP races I participate in have lots of wind and chop.  If you want to windsurf, just find out when I have a SUP race and it will likely blow that day.  We had 15mph+ wind with some knee high chop....and the 10K Elite race course had angles that gave us cross wind and sideways chop, plus refracting waves off the dam wall that gave us some washing machine conditions. The conditions were more about trying not to fall in so you wouldn't lose time versus pure speed.

My friend Bill has been pushing himself to race and has improved dramatically in the last year he's been paddling.  He has lost weight through paddling and race training, and really been stoked on SUP in general, but also seems to show up at the windiest races.  I think Bill epitomizes the quote above because he still gets out there and competes even in the face of adversity.  Keep up the great work Bill and never give up!

My new 14' Bark custom race board held up pretty being only my 3rd time on it.  I was pleased with its stability and speed, although I couldn't have done any better than my 4th place finish in Elite Mens 14'...the top 3 got away from me and put a big distance between us.  Congrats to Kevin Rhodes and Chris Johnson, both from Wilmington, and got 1st and 3rd respectively.  Also a big shout out to the 2nd place finisher - a 60 year old grandfather, Rand Perkins, from Bryson City, NC.  He came out of nowhere and kicked some serious butt out there.  That guy is in serious shape.  

I was extremely proud of my daughter, who raced the 5K race and ended up finishing 1st in Womens 12'6" and 1st in 17 & Under.  She came in ahead of several men on 12'6' race boards.  She racked up on the awards....a new paddle and skate longboard.  And it was fun to see my sons get out there in the kids race and mix it up as well.

The race organizers did a great job organizing and running the event

Father Daughter

new 14' race board...

...for the Waterturtle

Chris Johnson, Waterturtle, McIntyre, Matt & Nick Cesmat

pre-race words of encouragement

McIntyre finishing strong

Happy to have finished....that was a tough race.  The cross wind and chop was a killer.  Jeremy Whitted from Charleston (yellow board) crushed it on his 12'6" and finished just ahead of me overall and 1st in Mens 12'6".  He and I used to battle it out in the Mens 12'6" division in Wilmington, St Simons Island, and Charleston and I can tell you he has gotten a lot faster especially in choppy conditions it seems.  Congrats also to Matt Cesmat, from my home Lake Norman, who got 3rd in Mens 12'6".

The boys at the kids race start

The spoils of go girl!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gathering of the Tribe

The tribe gathered once again on Hatteras Island for the American Windsurfing Tour's Hatteras Wave Jam event Sept 12-15.  The conditions didn't cooperate until the final hours of the 4 day competition window at which time they ran the Pro, Women, and Youth heats but unfortunately didn't get in the Amateur heats.  The good news for some of us lowly amateurs was that the waves did show up from leftover Hurricane Leslie swell and we SUP surfed in clean conditions that ranged from waist to overhead high over the course of the 4 days.  All pics below taken by me unless otherwise noted.

What a Scene!
Rob - we had mostly long peeling left handers
Waterturtle - pic taken by Rob
Ken looking back
Ralph on a good sized long one
Ralph taking off
Rob on the glide in
Funny lighting in this pic but looks like Rob is paddling in from the heavens
Saturday was the best and most memorable day because of the length of the long waist to chest high rides, a forecasted and very rare 17 second wave period, and beautiful sunny beach day.  Sunday was supposed to give us bigger waves but they didn't stay consistent and came in very infrequent and unorganized sets....we still had smiles on our faces though.
The wind finally came up late Saturday afternoon as we came off the water from SUP surfing and we heard they were going to try and run heats in the final hours of the day (and competition window).  Rob and I figured they would focus on the Pro heats since little time was left so we decided to go do some slalom/bump and jump windsurfing at Canadian Hole.  That was the right call since we ended up fully powered on 5.5s at the Hole and they indeed ran only Pro, Women, and Youth heats and a single Amateur Expression Session.  I'm very happy the wind did come up for everyone that afternoon and that the event came off in the end for all involved...I'm sure we're all very grateful.

Walking my Tabou 9'2" SUP surfboard (and light wind wavesailing machine...yes it has a mast track) to the beach with my coffee on Day 3....we SUP surfed and did some light wind wavesailing on this rainy day.  Pic taken by Kevin Pritchard.

At the final AWT party at Koru Beach Club, which is a very nice place.  Here we are with the former world windsurfing champion, Kevin Pritchard.  From l to r: Randy, Ralph (who won best crash award), Ken, Waterturtle, Kevin, Rob, and Andy (Wind-NC).
Rob and I with Sam Bittner, AWT creator and organizer.  We met Sam last year in Baja and we're glad to call her a friend.  Sam is responsible for single handedly reigniting wavesailing competition stoke across the US and now expanding globally (Peru this year, maybe adding Chile next year).  She also helped resurrect the US Nationals this year after they were going to cancel it.  Keep up the great work Sam and thanks for all you do!

Big thanks also to the local Hatteras sailors who helped get the AWT event to Hatteras.  I think it's a great thing for the area and for our sport.  Special shout out to Bill Bell, who has tirelessly promoted Hatteras wavesailing for several years, provided the stoke to get many non wave sailors out on the water to give it a go with many early local events the last few years, and helped get the AWT event to Hatteras despite many challenges like hurricanes, NPS permits, etc etc.  Also special thanks to Andy McKinney from WIND-NC, who acted as head judge and also did a ton to help with the event and its logistics despite a brand new beautiful baby girl and a shop to run.  Andy has also contributed to stoking the Hatteras wavesailing fire and heavily promoting Hatteras windsurfing over the years.  Kudos to both of you and to your families for their support of your work as well!

Here is the AWT Hatteras Wave Jam final day report with some pics.

AWT Final Day pics

AWT Day 3 pics

AWT Day 2 pics

AWT Day 1 pics

Random AWT pics

Here is a link to a bunch of great AWT event pics posted by Keith M.

And here is the official AWT Hatteras Wave Jam event video...

Cape Hatteras AWT Wave Jam 2012 from American Windsurfing Tour on Vimeo.