Race Recap: 2017 Carolina Cup
2017 Carolina Cup // The Graveyard Delivers
Told By: Race team member Fielding Skip Pagel
It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago I walked into Capital SUP and asked if I could rent a board to try their race training program. Now it has become a passion of mine, and the source of some of my closest friends. Last year, I did the Graveyard race at 2016 Carolina Cup for the first time. I didn’t realize till after the race that I had bitten off a lot more than I could chew. A last minute decision put me on a board that was too skinny which resulted in a painful nearly 3 hours.
After the race, friends asked ‘How did it go’ to which I responded half joking ‘I think I swam most of the way to the first buoy.’ My nutrition failed after an hour and left me with muscle cramps and spasms, to the point that I had to use both hands to open my fists to switch my paddle. After a couple of hours in the medic tent drinking beef broth, I told myself I wouldn’t make the same mistakes at the 2017 Carolina Cup.
Fast forward a year, 6 days before the 2017 Carolina Cup race I went to pick up a new board from a friend, Andy Dima of A-team Paddleboarding. I could envision year-ago-me shaking his head. I knew it wasn’t a good decision, but I thought maybe I would get lucky and conditions would be calm. I’ve never been lucky. Mary Howser, Teresa Plitt, and I drove down Friday to get a little time on the water before the sun went down. Conditions were similar to what they were predicting for Saturday morning, and I was spending a lot of time in the water. Nothing I could do about it at that point. So I focused on nutrition. Ate a giant dinner at my favorite Thai place, Indochine, and started drinking lots of water and electrolytes. My electrolyte of choice is MORTON® LITE SALT™. It has sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium and only costs $8 for a year’s supply. Can you tell I’m cheap?
Saturday morning we got to the race early. I was planning on eating some bananas at the racers’ breakfast. Turns out there wasn’t a racers’ breakfast, and I spent a lot of time scrambling to get some food. Luckily, Erik Kauffman AKA ‘Big E’ got me a meal bar and I felt like that would be enough. I filled my Camelbak with some carbohydrates and electrolytes and I was good to go.
At the start line, the surf was looking intimidating, but my friend, Dan Rapp, bought some much-needed stress relief with some yelling and high-fives with Connor Baxter (Not knowing he is the number one ranked paddler in the world). Gun went off, I had a good start through the breaking surf. I was on my way. My heart rate slowly came down a little and then after making the first buoy turn, I started falling off my board. Turns out the combination of my 14’x23″ NSP flat water and an angled downwind meant I was going to be spending some time in the drink.
Luckily, I decided to bring my music along for this race, something I just recently started doing. During a 2-3 hour race, it’s not difficult to quickly become your own worst enemy. Every time I fell I tried to get back up on the board paddling as fast as I could. Falling twenty or more times during a race like I did can add up to a lot of time. So popping up quickly can be important. The difference between 20 seconds per fall and 40 seconds per fall would be almost 7 mins. Or the difference between 46th and 53rd place. Despite falling all the time I was still having fun. Every time a bump would come through I’d hit 5 quick strokes and then I was flying, squatted down paddle skipping across the surface. I’d catch a couple bumps, catching up to the racers in front of me, and then I would crash and repeat.
Once through the inlet, the waves calmed down and I knew this was going to be my time to make up some ground. Lots of people question the reason we do a lot of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), myself included at times, but at that point, I was really happy I had. The next 8 miles were a game of leapfrog with a gusty 20-knot headwind. I’d trail onto the end of a draft train, drinking from my Camelbak and recovering, then I would sprint to the next train. I remember feeling so blessed. I felt great; the opposite of the year before. Every time I would start sprinting to the next train, I had a sense that I wasn’t tired enough. ‘Time to drop the hammer. Let’s see what I got.’ I’d be tired when I caught the train, but after a few minutes, I would bounce back. I think I went from around 56th to 38th during that windy 8-mile section.
I felt invincible; I wanted another 8-miles of it. Then I turned the jetty and was back in the ocean with a splash. I did my best to try to preserve as much of the ground that I had gained. I finally surfed a swell in on my knees and hobbled up the beach like a drowned rat. 13.2 miles complete! I trimmed seven minutes off my time from last year and moved from 90th to 46th. #TrainToWin
It was a smaller group than last year, but we still had a lot of representation in Wrightsville. Mary Howser completed her first graveyard race and placed 15th! Teresa Plitt took 8th in the Women’s Money Island Race (6-mile). Big E completed the graveyard for the third year in a row, and Dan Rapp his first. Mark Sanfacon 13th in the Men’s 12’6” Money Island. Matt Mcosker 17th in the Men’s 14’ Harbor Island (3-mile) Kenna Oseroff 10th Women’s Harbor Island. Jeff Sanfacon completed the Harbor Island and saved a paddler in distress at the end of the race sacrificing his race time to do some. Marissa Walch and Vanessa Peregrim went 1,2 in the Women’s Harbor Island Surf SUP, and Luis Dall 2nd in the Men’s Harbor Island Surf Sup. Congrats to everyone!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: ‘You can’t push yourself through the races, without someone pulling you through the workouts.’ When it’s below zero in January, the last thing I want to do is go paddle. But when the paddle bros say ‘Hey, we’re going downwinding. Grab your gear.’ I don’t have a choice. I can’t state enough how thankful I am for the love that I have been shown from the whole Capital SUP Family. I’m excited that the race season has begun, and can’t wait to see everyone out there. #ShareTheStoke2017 Carolina Cup, carolina cup, stand up paddleboarding, sup racer, sup racing