Stinging winds greet small group of winter Turkey Trot SUP racers
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 2 December, 2013 - When ESA officials came up with the idea of doing a Thanksgiving Day Standup Paddleboard Race in the Atlantic Ocean over one month ago, the air temperatures were in the low 60’s and the surf was calm at the Narragansett Town Beach. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the race, from both local and out-of-state paddle boarders.
Unfortunately, the unpredictable New England weather did not exactly cooperate, as raging seas with surf up to 20 feet forced postponement on Thanksgiving Day. Icy 11- degree air temperatures and stinging northeast winds greeted the small group of hardcore winter SUP racers on Saturday, the makeup day for the race.
“You have to outfit yourself with the right gear if you want to paddle board in the winter,” said ESA Competition Director, Mario Frade. “It was so cold on the morning of the race, that anyone who had brought a drysuit with them, put it on. Everyone wore winter gloves and boots, because that strong side chop made it even colder.”
Although the surf was small and easy to paddle through at the start of the race, the northeast winds kicked up a 2-foot channel chop that slowed paddlers down as they headed south to Monahan’s Dock and around a buoy. The 2K race went from the south end of the town beach to a buoy off Monahan’s Dock and back, while the second race did the loop twice.
In a strange turn of events, it was SUP speedster Mike Nunnery of Saunderstown beating the entire field, prone paddling on his stomach. Mike beat out the first SUP racer, to come across the finish line by nine seconds. “I have been prone paddling more during the past two months, because I felt that I was losing my speed and endurance when I surfed on a traditional surfboard,” said Mike after the race.
“Prone paddling up wind on the way back from the dock was definitely an advantage. Dealing with the northeast winds on a standup paddleboard was much harder than laying down and cutting off all the wind resistance.”
In the first race, the 2K course that went only one lap to the dock and back, it was Nantucket’s Karen Alence wining the 2K Open Women’s Division with a time of 25:05. Narragansett’s Peter Pan took the Open Men’s Title in a time of 24:05.
The Open Prone Division winner and overall champion was Mike Nunnery, with the fastest time of the day in the distance race of 40:32. Kim Gross of Narragansett won the 5K Women’s Open Division in 59:55, while Jack Egan of Stamford, Connecticut won the Open Masters 5K in 40:41.
David Grainger of New London, Connecticut won the Senior Men’s title in a time of 45:17. Mark Preece of Warwick, R.I. took second in 47:22.
The race was sponsored by Bic Sport, Supreme Wetsuits, and Narragansett Surf and Skate. Winners of the $225.00 standup paddleboard wetsuits donated by Supreme, were Mark Preece and Karen Alence. The next ESA event will be the 46th Annual New England Mid-Winter Surfing Championships, scheduled for February 15 at the Narragansett Town Beach. This will be the first rated contest of the 2014 season, and will feature standup paddleboard surfing asd well as traditional wave riding.