SUP Racing in the Northeast and Summer Fun
Alright! Carolina Cup is done! One more on the list. I never feel ready for that race. It’s a tough one to begin with and I don’t paddle enough before it, don’t train properly for it. But I do it because I get to catch up with everyone, the Inlanders, the Canadians, the Left Coasters, the Northern folks, the Floridians, the locals, the kids, the celebrities, everyone.
There are races you take part in just to participate.
There’s only six people on the podium after most races, and may be hundreds participating. I’m not one to go podium crazy or only race if I have a chance of winning. Of course, I’ll push and do my best, but races also give you the chance to paddle with folks you wouldn’t otherwise paddle with. That’s the value I find in these events. It doesn’t take just the first three to make this sport grow and support it, it takes all of us, from first to last, to the volunteers and organizers, more so the folks that couldn’t finish and year after year, here they are. I admire the athletes, and I feel inspired by the folks whose jobs are not paddling related, and have kids, and balance their work, their social and parenting life with their water life, and there they are, smiling through the upwind. Races like Carolina Cup bring us all together, and that’s why we’re there.
Our trip to Wrightsville also marks the start of the season.
There are very few things in life more exciting than that. It’s wonderful when you put away the drysuit for the season and get back out there when the weather starts warming up, the sunset is a minute later every day and the water starts pulling you towards it. The layering becomes tricky, especially here up north. The water is still freezing but air temps can reach high 70s. Drysuit and naked underneath? Wetsuit and jump in every 10 minutes? No booties to stay cool, but have your toes frozen. Dilemmas. I’ve committed the atrocity of putting on my drysuit but unzipping it as soon as I break a sweat. We all know how that ends. But regardless of what you’re wearing, there’s something powerful about Spring that goes beyond the raising temperatures and the cherry blossoms. It resets your sense of novelty. Suddenly you forgot how unstable your race board was, how good the wind feels on your face when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, how peaceful and self indulging is to leave the crowds on land. As the water temp rises up, layers start to stay home, sun warms your skin, summer is in the air. We look forward to the heat, the tan lines, the crowded beaches, the post surf beer, the post training paddle protein. Do we endure the winter months to renew our love for summer? You know the old premise, there’s no light without darkness, no happiness without sadness, but no summer joy without winter blues? I could do without the winter blues. But would that change how much I appreciate summer?
What I love about summer is everything that winter lacks. The group paddles, the events, the races, training and paddling for fun with my crew. The early sunsets and late sunrises, the air temperature, the lack of green leafs on trees during the winter, depress me. Winter is tough to get through. I choose not to and go away. I’ve tried, gave it my best for a few years, I suffer, my soul shrinks, I feel it in my chest. It’s awful. If you’re anything like me, you know what I’m talking about. It’s harder for folks like us to stay out during the colder months. It does take that extra effort, that thicker character. I admire you for enduring it. If Winter for you is fun, I’m jealous. I come back to the northern hemisphere as spring is settling in. Green buds start putting some color on the brown, dry city parks, tulips dress up the New York City, and people remember how to smile at strangers. The paddlers start obsessing with sunny days, and we all make plans to paddle during the warmest hours. We show up excited at the boathouse, complain and whine about the gear we are still wearing and speculate with the exact date the water temperature will stop being life threatening. We head out, we comment on how warm the sun feels, we put our faces up to it and soak it up. With more frequent paddles, comes the urge to start planning for the season.
Let’s put some Northeast events on your wish list for this season. Let’s raise our spirits!
Treasure Island NJ – May 20th
Cape to Cape NJ – June 25th
Cayuga SUP Cup NY – July 28th
SEA Paddle NY – August 5th
Newport SUP Cup CT – August 27th
Great picnic Race – September 9th
Chucktown Showdown SC – September 16th
Tom’s River NJ – August 27th and Sept 16th
Cape to Cape VA – September 22nd
And then there’s the New England Summah Series.
‘Four iconic paddle board races featuring the landmark harbors of Massachusetts’
North Shore SUP Cup – June 10th
Paddle For Plummer – July 8th
Misery Challenge – July 15th
Cape Ann SUPahBowl – August 12th
Having survived Carolina Cup is empowering enough to feel like there’s nothing we can’t do this season. So get a group text going with your paddling buddies, pick some events, races, fundraisers, beach cleanups. Get someone who hasn’t paddled yet out on the water with you! Meet other paddlers, explore new waterways. Good ole summer has a whole lot of new to offer. Let’s get it!