Time to relax now !
Last week end I had a blast at the Jade Paddle Race. Tough racing against Gaetan Séné. We had a good fight on the Long Distance Race, Gaetan took the lead about half way into the race before I came back and passed him in the last kilometer. The Bic SUP One Design race was also extremely fun.
I took first at Beach Race, Long Distance Race and One Design Race.
Just after the Jade Paddle Race I started my trip to the US. I went from Nantes to Paris by train, then flew to Madrid, spent a night there, flew to Boston and then to Miami, spent a night in the worst hotel I have ever seen and the following day flew to Charleston, SC. I arrived Thursday night in Wrightsville Beach, NC and jumped on my 14′ board. This is only the 3rd time I was using it (1st time at BOP long distance, 2nd time at Paddle Royal Puerto Rico) and I was concerned about not being used to it.
I did some more practice on Friday and felt good on the board.
Saturday morning was the Graveyard race (the Elite Race). The course was 3km ocean downwind, followed by 12km upwind-upstream in flatwater and another 5km ocean downwind to the finish.
Danny Ching flew from start to finish. At the end of the 1st downwind leg Jamie was in second place with a little bit of a lead on me. However I was on a better line, with less current, so I caught up to him and then had Ryan Helm right on my tail.
The three of us worked together during the whole flat water stretch. Jamie organised a draft-train relay: we each paddled for three minutes at the front while the other two drafted. Ryan seemed to be faster than Jamie and I but did not break away. As we got closer to the end of the flatwater/upwind/upstream nightmare, Chase Kosterlitz was also paddling strong and making ground.
As Jamie, Ryan and I turned right to head back out into the ocean, I noticed how strong the outgoing current was, so I did my best to read the water and choose the best line. At this point Ryan decided to choose his own line and made the wrong choice. Jamie was following me as we were on the fast lane getting pushed out to the ocean.
The temptation to try and cut through the waves was huge but it would have been a mistake. The best choice in my opinion was to be patient and stay with the current until you got pushed a long way out in the ocean, after which you would have been on a perfect line for a downwind paddle to the finish.
I think that Jamie decided to go a little too early. I stayed the with the current a bit longer and it paid off, as I had to go out through less breaking waves, with less effort and then I also ended up being on a better line. At this point of the race a few meters made a big difference.
I was still a long way from the finish by the time Danny was already on the beach… I finished second, with Jamie third, Chase fourth and Ryan fifth.
There was a killer BBQ for the paddlers after the race, and all in all it was a world class event. Clinics, Open Races, Elite Races… anyone can go and have fun. This is how every SUP event should be…
credit Photo 1 Gordon Miller (facebook)
credit photo 2 Ethan Luppert (facebook)