The Hamptons SUP Race Series enjoyed an amazing first year hosting 4 World Paddle Association sanctioned races. Supporting local charities like the Peconic Baykeeper Organization, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue and Paddlers for Humanity. By all accounts the support and participation for the races was overwhelming. Racers from near and far brought great stoke and enthusiasm to each event of the 2012 race calendar.
The 2012 season started with the Race for the Baykeeper, located in historic Sag Harbor. The morning of May 19th, we set a 3 mile triangular course into beautiful Northwest Harbor. Short course racers completed one lap, while the Elite long course racers made two loops around the course. The conditions were challenging with moderate Northeast winds, serving up upwind, crosswind and downwind conditions. The somewhat protected waters of the western Peconic Bay provided the perfect location to kick off the season. NSP Paddleboards and Kialoa Paddles were our great Co-Sponsors for this race. It was very special to have sponsors that would make gear available to racers looking to try the latest boards and paddles. Kialoa team paddler Scott Bradley came away with 1st place in the Mens 14ft long course and Main Beach’s own Rick Drew took first place in the Mens 12-6ft long course. Local girls Jessica Bellafatto, Mary Sherer and Evelyn O’Doherty took top honors in the Womens 12-6 long course. A great video of the race is available to view at “http://mainbeach.com/stand-up/hamptons-sup-race-series/”.
The second race of the season took us to Fresh Pond Landing in Amagansett in support of the “Paddlers for Humanity” Domestic Violence initiative. Gardiners bay in 15 knot northeast winds is no picnic and even the best racers were challenged, some knocked from there boards by tricky currents and stiff North winds off of Cartwright shoals, not often seen during the mid summer doldrums. Hobie Paddleboards and Werner Paddles were our co-sponsors, with the crew from Team Werner paddles cleaning up taking first (Patrick Bromel) and second (Will Rich) place in the Mens 14 foot long course, 1st place in the Mens 12-6 (Johnny O’Hara) long course and 1st place in the Womens short course(Carol Choi). Many participants were able to demo 2012 Hobie paddleboards and the latest race paddles such as Werners new Grand Prix paddle.
A fun kids race took place after the Main Event and prizes were awarded to all of our junior participants.
Early August brought us to North Haven and the Estate of Lisa and Richard Perry where a charity paddle for the Breast Cancer Research foundation was held. The high bluffs of North Haven Point were the backdrop of this challenging race course. Stormy conditions threatened through out the day as race preparations were made. The race went off into strong Southwest winds and a shorthened course of 4 miles and 2 miles respectively. In a tight finish, Main Beach team paddler, Lars Svanberg, took the top spot just beating out Justin Dirico. Werner Paddles Team Rider, Mary Sherer took first place in the womens long course with Jessica Bellafato a close second place. All paddlers were rewarded with a satisfying finish in the toughest conditions of the season. A beautiful post race party followed the race and a tremendously sucessful fundraising effort for the BCRF was realized, raising upwards of $700,000 dollars. The spirit of Stand up Paddling was exemplified by courage of several Breast Cancer Survivors some of whom participated in the race and others whom spoke of how SUP provided a form or therapy and a healthy outlet during their treatment. A true testament to the power of SUP.
All of the races that comprise the Hamptons SUP race series, along with, various swimming events and tri-athalons across Eastern Long Island are all supported by the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad. These wonderful men and women volunteer their time to keep so many people safe, train junior life guards and back up the East Hampton seasonal lifeguards as needed, performing life saving functions year round. It was only fitting that we choose to make them the benefactor of our final race of the season.
A fall classic was in the making as the day dawned to moderate temperatures and brisk West Southwest winds. The race course was set into imposing Block Island Sound, running from West to East along the water trail bordering the North side of Hither Woods State Park. As race time approached the beach was lined up with a fine quiver of race boards from SurfTech, Joe Bark, 404, MHL, Hobie, Super Race boards, PJB and others.. Co-Sponsors Surftech and Werner Paddles provided great prizes and both sponsored entrants into the race.
Tensions ran high as a tricky water start launched 67 paddlers into the boiling current of the Lazy Point Launching ramp. Rounding beautiful Hicks Island paddlers eased into a great westerly flow that provided for an insane downwinder. Races connected wave after wave, dancing from front to back on the boards, for almost 6 miles putting smiles on the faces of all participants. Experienced down wind paddlers benefitted from long rides and glides on the challenging wind swell conditions. Paddlers new to down wind conditions quickly learned as their fellow racers rode by them with grace and efficency. As we reached the last turn buoy into Montauks fort pond bay, racers found themselves pointed into a stiff Southwest wind. Battling upwind, racers completed the last leg of the race finishing on the beautiful shoreline of Eddie Ecker state park.
Main Beach Team Paddler Lars Svanberg followed by James Rothwell and Scott Bradley took top honors in the Mens 14 foot division. Werner Paddles team paddlers Kim Reilly, Danielle Deforest and Mary Sherer were on the podium for the womens 12-6 division. Four junior paddlers under age 18 completed the rigorous course and clearly showed the future spirit of SUP.
Everyone enjoyed a spectacular catered buffet following the race and a few even tried a special glass of beer from Montauk brewery.
Keep training and paddling during the off season, Spring will be upon us before you know it! We are thankful to everyone who made the Hamptons SUP race series successful and look forward to a great race schedule in 2013. Look for new race formats and courses next year including a Surf Masters Challenge and an Elite race to Block Island. Please visit “http://www.mainbeach.com” for the latest information on the “Hamptons Race Series” for 2013.
Paddle Hard, Be Safe!
The Main Beach SUP Race Team