Tag Archives: SUP

Turning Pro at Pacifico

By Pete Williams

"Pro" SUP rider? (photo by Chad Jarae - Encounter Creative)

ST. PETE BEACH – So maybe it was a lightly-contested field or a win by default.

It doesn’t matter. I won $75 in a competitive race.

Today I am a professional athlete.

The Pacifico Paddle Challenge took place Saturday afternoon on a postcard-perfect day in front of, appropriately enough, The Postcard Inn. Shane “Waterboy” Webb, a co-owner of SUPPaddleboard.com, promised $3,000 in cash awards, $3,000 worth of raffle prizes, and a free pig roast – all for a $45 pre-registration fee (or $50 raceday).

Webb delivered on everything. At a time when your average obstacle mud run charges $75 (providing no food) and triathlon entry fees continue to escalate, SUP races are the best value in endurance sports.

Admittedly, they have to be because they’re not drawing huge numbers – yet. That’s how I knew I had a shot at prize money.

In July, I entered one of Webb’s SUP Splash Series races at the same venue and was stunned to hear my name called at the awards ceremony since I finished last in the elite 6-mile race.

But I was the only entrant in the “stock board” category. Unlike the rest of the athletes, who competed on sleeker, faster “race boards,” I used a slower board, although my Yoloboard Eco Trainer is a terrific stock board.

Best postrace spread ever

Some compare racing a stock board in an elite race to riding a mountain bike in a triathlon. The difference probably isn’t that pronounced, but there’s no question you’re significantly slower on a stock board.

Since July, I’ve acquired a race board and considered riding it Saturday – until I realized there was prize money for the stock division: $150 for first, $75 for second and $50 for third. (Top three men and women won money in the race board division, starting with $700 apiece for the first-place finishers).

The 3-mile race featured athletes mostly with stock boards. Upon checking in, I learned that the most I could hope to win in the 5-mile race was $75 unless at least four athletes competed in stock boards. That seemed only fair.

When we lined up on the beach for the mass start – paddleboard race starts make triathlon swim starts look tame since everyone is swinging carbon fiber and trading epoxy – I noticed just one other stock board.

I had a competitor for $75.

That guy fell behind quickly and bowed out before the race ended. I stayed in front of eight or 10 race boards for most of the race, but could not keep up on the third lap, finishing ahead of just four.

Transitioning at Pacifico

I love the race format of the Pacifico race, which borrowed from California’s Battle of the Paddle. After each of the first two 1.7-mile laps, athletes exited the water, ran 40-yards with their paddles as “board caddies” turned their boards around, and reentered the water. It’s SUP’s answer to the NASCAR pit stop or the triathlon transition.

I picked up my cash winnings after enjoying the best-ever post-race food – a pig roast – and watching a raffle that included a beach cruiser bicycle and a killer surfboard. The various winners of the 3-mile race did not win cash, just cool hardware, but each received a raffle ticket. (The money for the women’s stock board 5-mile division went unclaimed as there were no entries.)

After the 5-mile race, Webb staged one last event: the “Dash for the Cash.” Competitors sprinted about 200 yards to a buoy and back. Hundred bucks for the male and female winners.

Best part of the day was seeing a 12-year-old racer go absolutely nuts when his raffle ticket was called for the surfboard – about 15 minutes after a wedding ended on the beach in front of us.

It’s tough to say how long SUP races can keep offering cash prizes. Love the idea, and there seems to be enough sponsor interest from the likes of Pacifico beer to make it work for now, but it’s always a challenge to make the numbers work for any race director in any endurance event.

For now, cash is a great thing. It makes the race more interesting and attracts the professionals.

Like myself.

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Race of the Week: Pacifico Paddle Challenge

By Pete Williams

Pacifico Paddle Challenge coming Saturday

For all the talk about saturation in the number of triathlon, running, and obstacle mud run events, one part of the endurance sports industry still is on the upswing: stand-up paddleboarding.

That’s why it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s a lot of buzz surround the Pacifico Paddle Challenge, which takes place on Saturday, Nov. 12 on St. Pete Beach just in front of The Postcard Inn.

It helps that race organizer Shane Webb and his colleagues at SUPPaddleboard.com put on a successful series of races throughout the Southeast this summer. It helps that Tampa Bay weather right now is gorgeous. And it definitely helps that there’s both $3,000 in prize money and $3,000 in raffle prizes, part of an all-day SUP extravaganza.

The race borrows its format from the popular Battle of the Paddle, the Super Bowl of SUP, with a technical, multi-buoy, multi-lap course. Racers must exit the water after every lap, run a brief 40-yard lap with their paddles and reenter the water. Like a NASCAR pitstop or triathlon transition, it’s a challenge not to lose time in the process.

We spoke to Webb about the race earlier this week on The Fitness Buff Show.

Name of Race: Pacifico Paddle Challenge

When/Where: Saturday, Nov. 12 at The Postcard Inn – 6300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach

History: This is an inaugural event, though the organizers put on the successful SUP Splash Race Series, which included an event at the same venue on July 16.

Format: Races include a 3-mile short course race at 11 a.m., a 5-mile elite race (12:30), and a “Dash for the Cash” at 2 p.m. Prize money awarded equally to men and women in the 5-mile and Dash for the Cash. Mandatory racers meeting at 10:30.

Expected Turnout: 100-plus

Amenities: Long-sleeve T-shirts to first 70 registered. Pacifico After Party at 3 p.m. Awards at 4:30, raffle at 5:30 and playing of the “Ultimate Wave Tahiti” movie at 6:00.

Cost: $45 preregistration, $50 raceday

Register: Online HERE

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ESF’s Pete Williams on ABC 28 Talking Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Vodpod videos no longer available.

SUP on ABC, posted with vodpod

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SUP, Go Pro Dominate Surf Expo

By Pete Williams

Among the many SUP boards at Surf Expo

ORLANDO – If you needed confirmation that the sport of stand-up paddleboarding is growing exponentially, you had only to attend Surf Expo this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center.

A dozen SUP manufacturers were on hand, along with many other vendors peddling SUP accessories. A temporary pool was constructed for anyone wishing to test-drive a paddleboard and everyone, it seemed, was talking about the sport.

This was our first visit to Surf Expo and we’re anxious now to visit the larger January edition. I’ve attended all manner of conventions at the OCCC – Builders Show, PGA Show, Sporting Goods Super Show, etc. – and while I’m accustomed to seeing models hired as booth eye candy, it was startling to see barely-legal, bikini-clad women manning many displays regardless of product. You just don’t see that at the Builders Show.

Go Pro, manufacturers of those cool cameras that attach to a helmet, surfboard, or race car, had a huge presence and it’s difficult to think of a non-Apple company that’s as popular right now for making cool gadgetry. Each afternoon Go Pro raffled off a prize package of everything it makes, drawing hundreds to its booth.

Most clever marketing award goes to Sun Bum, a two-year old manufacturer of high-end sunscreen out of Cocoa Beach. Sun Bum gave out stickers and tote bags emblazoned with its slogan “Protect Your Lazy Ass” and most every attendee was cruising the floors with bag in hand.

Protect Your Lazy Ass. That’s our kind of sunscreen.

We’re already making plans for Surf Expo in January.

 

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SUP Summer Series Concludes in St. Pete

By Pete Williams

Helga Goebel en route to victory in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG – Nick Bjork and Helga Goebel won the 6-mile race at the finale of the three-event SUP Summer Series this morning.

A competitive field of fifty paddlers, wielding mostly race boards, showed up for the event at Blind Pass put on by Chase Kosterlitz, owner of the Water Monkey SUP shop and a rising star on the SUP race scene.

Bjork, owner of the Solstice Sports SUP shop in Tampa, was the overall men’s winner. Goebel, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, added to her hardware as the female winner. She’s dominated Florida SUP this year, winning the Key West Classic, the Florida State Championships, the Sunshine SUP race series, the Komona Paddle, and the Orange Bowl Race.

Kosterlitz will be hosting his second-annual Fall Paddle Festival on Oct. 22-23 in Treasure Island. The WPA-sanctioned event consists of an OC-6 outrigger canoe race on Oct. 22 and SUP races on Oct. 23.

 

 

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Paddle Fit ‘Vook’ Now Available

By Pete Williams

Paddle Fit, the Vook

If you’re looking to learn the sport of stand-up paddleboarding, improve your technique, or perhaps take up an awesome core training program that can be done on the water on the board or on the beach, then you’ll want to check out Paddle Fit, the new “vook” I’ve had the honor of writing with SUP guru Brody Welte of Stand Up Fitness in St. Petersburg.

What is a vook? It’s an exciting new digital platform that combines text and video into one multimedia package for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. With Paddle Fit, you don’t just read about how to paddle or see photos of workout routines, you click onto videos shot in the Florida Keys by the talented folks at Encounter Creative.

I took up stand-up paddleboarding a year ago and it’s changed my life. Like Brody, I believe it’s the best workout ever created. You’re training on an unstable surface: a board on the water. It’s like working out on a giant BOSU ball. Proper paddle technique requires you to use your hips, shoulders and core properly. I’ve never had washboard abs until taking up SUP.

Best of all, it’s a lot of fun. Who wants to hang out in a gym, risk getting killed on a bicycle, or pound the pavement running when you can be getting a full-body, cardio core workout on the water, encountering all manner of cool wildlife in the process? Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than owning a boat.

Even if you just want to take leisurely paddles, you’ll have a blast with SUP, which is much easier than it looks. Anyone can get up on a board on the first try.

Paddle Fit, which includes more than 30 minutes of instructional video, is only $7.99 online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBookstore.

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Entrepreneur Magazine Features YOLO

By Pete Williams

Happy YOLO Board Riders

Entrepreneur magazine featured YOLO Board founders Jeff Archer and Tom Losee in the August issue. Since establishing YOLO Board five years ago, the Santa Rosa Beach entrepreneurs have built one of the most recognizable brands in stand-up paddling.

YOLO – it’s an acronym for “You Only Live Once” – is the dominant brand in Florida, which is significant since Florida has more warm weather and calm water than anywhere in the United States. The company has earned a reputation for quality products and customer service, always a good success strategy.

The company is thriving this year; Archer told Entrepreneur that sales during the first quarter of 2011 were double the same period in 2010. We’re a little bummed that YOLO canceled its wonderful Seaside Celebration paddle board race weekend in September to focus on its core business. But given the demand for YOLO boards, that’s more than understandable.

YOLO will be prominently featured in the video of an upcoming “vook” I’ve written with SUP guru Brody Welte that will be out later this summer.

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