Tag Archives: Honeymoon Island

Taking it on the Chin

By Pete Williams

DUNEDIN – One of the many great things about stand-up paddleboarding is that you’re far less likely to get injured falling off a board than a bicycle. After all, water hurts a lot less than asphalt.

Of course, falling off a paddleboard can be very dangerous if you strike any part of your body on the board, especially your head. When you feel yourself going down, it’s important to push the board away from you and land totally in the water.

In my nearly two years of stand-up paddleboarding, I’ve managed to master the Buzz Lightyear “falling with style” technique. But while paddling yesterday at Honeymoon Island, I took it on the chin.

Not sure exactly how it happened. It probably wasn’t the best idea to launch into choppy surf in an area notorious for its rocky bottom that feels like walking on cobblestones. Taking a race board, with its lesser stability, also wasn’t one of my better decisions.

Remember: fall away from the board

I didn’t even fall off the board while standing.  When dealing with choppy seas – and we do get them here on the West Coast of Florida – the idea is to walk the board out beyond the break. But since the footing was so rocky, I jumped on in the prone position, with the paddle lying parallel on the board.

As I got to my knees, a wave flipped the board and I caught either the board or the handle of the paddle on the chin. Unlike the standing position, I couldn’t propel away from the board. Still, it didn’t feel that bad and I jumped back on only to see blood dripping onto the board.

I paddled back quickly to shore – thinking of how I participated in the “Shark Bite Challenge” SUP race in calmer waters near the same spot in April – grabbed an ice pack from the cooler, along with a towel, and walked to the lifeguard stand. They cleaned the cut and estimated I’d need three stitches.

Actually, five. The folks at the walk-in clinic asked if I’d had a tetanus shot recently and I proudly announced that I had, having gotten one two months ago after scraping myself up at an obstacle adventure race.

Not the greatest war story, to be sure. But another reminder that while stand-up paddleboarding can be a safe sport, it’s also one that requires proper safety precautions, including a personal flotation device in the event such a fall renders you unconscious.

As well as learning to fall gracefully.

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Race of the Week: Shark Bite Challenge

By Pete Williams

April 14-15, 2012

It’s not often you find a race for $30 that offers an hour-plus-long event, a dry-fit shirt, post-race food and entry to one of America’s finest beaches, which is waiving the usual $8 parking fee.

That’s all part of the package for the ninth-annual Shark Bite Challenge and Paddlefest at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, which includes two days (April 14-15) of paddle races. If you can paddle it, you’re pretty much in. Not surprisingly, a large stand-up paddleboard (SUP) contingent is expected for Sunday. Anyone registering at the Dunedin Brewery from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday night gets a free beer.

The race is organized by Karen Mirlenbrink, owner of the Dunedin Pilates Studio and an accomplished paddler herself. At a time when an increasing number of endurance races charge for parking and offer little in terms of free post-race refreshments, the Shark Bite Challenge & Paddlefest might be the best value in the industry.

Name of Race: Shark Bite Challenge and Paddlefest

Location: Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin

History: The Shark Bite Challenge is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Island Parks, a non-profit, citizen support organization that supports the efforts of Caladesi and Honeymoon Island State Parks.

Format: Two-day event kicks off Saturday, April 14 with a nine-mile, 6-man outrigger canoe race. The following day, there’s a 4-mile and an 8-mile kayak, canoe, surfski, OC1, OC2, SUP, and prone paddleboard race.

Schwag: The Shark Bite Challenge works in conjunction with the Island Earth Days festival. With registration, racers receive a dry-fit t-shirt, free parking, and post-race lunch courtesy of Cafe Honeymoon.

Signature Feature: Honeymoon Island and neighboring Caladesi Island are consistently rated among America’s most beautiful beaches.

Projected Turnout: 150-plus

Cost: A bargain at $30 for Sunday. It’s $120 for each six-man OC-6 canoe on Saturday. Those who compete Saturday get $10 off Sunday entry fees.

Note: Competitors must have personal flotation devices (PFDs) on their vessels at all times.

Sign-Up: Via Active.com. Race day registration also available.

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