Capital Adventures ~ Rincon Beach Boy 2017
2017 Rincon Beach Boy || Capital SUP takes on Puerto Rico
I would never have thought last April when I began training with Capital SUP that the very next April, almost one year to the day, I would be traveling to the island of Puerto Rico to participate in the Rincon Beach Boy paddleboard race, let alone an open water race. My first race was the Bay Bridge Paddle in 2016 and I had little expectations for me other than to finish and have a good time. Well, I finished, had a blast, and was hooked from the moment I crossed the finish line. So now, with six races under my belt and one podium finish, I was to embark on one of my most memorable trips and certainly the most ambitious paddleboard race yet. Puerto Rico, here I come…
Last Thursday, with a very early wake-up call from Siri and the Google lady, I was off to the airport with a car full of bags, a tent, floats, and two boards on the roof. We had about 35 people traveling on this trip. If I have learned anything over this past year, it’s that when Capital SUP travels to a race, we go big. And this trip was certainly no exception.
After arriving in San Juan, Goose, Kevin, and Schmid met us at the airport in full on floral looking like a bunch of Hawaiian tour guides with two vans and a box truck. Rincon is on the other side of the island and we had a three-hour drive ahead of us. So we loaded up our caravan and we were off to paradise.
We made it to the houses shortly after dark and I have to say, Kevin hit the ball out of the park booking the villas for us. They were awesome, literally inches from the water and had some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. I could definitely get used to traveling like this.
Friday morning, I knew this was going to be a relaxing vacation when we woke up to some rooftop yoga led by Cathleen and then headed out for a late breakfast. Afterward, each villa did some grocery shopping to load up our kitchens and plan out what we were going to make for our pre-race dinner. Each villa made something to bring to carb-up and be completely energized for the race Saturday morning.
Friday afternoon, I tested out my board that I had rented for the race. I was going bigger and narrower than the Starboard I normally paddle with a JP 14’ x 26” dugout board. Quite a bit tippier than my board, especially in the choppy water we had that day but downwind a lot better and smoother. I got a much better glide once I was moving, but it was a different paddling experience than I am used to. Needless to say, my nerves were a bit heightened as I knew that this was going to be fun, but racing in the ocean is a new experience for me.
Saturday morning – RACE DAY
As I am not a morning person and those who know me can attest to that fact, I woke up bright and early to try and get a decent breakfast in me before heading down to the Villa Cofresi hotel where the Rincon Beach Boy was being held. It’s only about a 1/4 of a mile down the beach so our flotilla of paddlers paddled down and we checked in.. The conditions Saturday morning were awesome. The sun was shining, light winds, calm waters with a nice little downwind rolling surf. I was as ready as I was going to be.
The Rincon Beach Boy was a big race. I was paddling the 3-mile open course and there were just shy of 200 people in our group. The Elite’s had about 70 and the Junior’s represented 20. By far, the largest race I had ever participated in. Sometime about 10:30, they called the Open paddlers to the course after the Elite’s and Junior’s had started and I was ready. I jockeyed for a good line to start – trying to make sure I was going to have nice, clean water, and a good line to sprint out ahead of the pack.
My start was pretty good. Right off the bat, I sprinted as fast as I could for a solid 30 to 45 seconds to make my way out. I fell into my race pace and worked as hard as I could to keep clean water in front of me to try and break away from as many of the other racers as possible. I worked on my stroke rhythm and focused on keeping my board flowing through the bumps and using the waves to help me with my forward momentum. When you are used to paddling a 12’6” board, a 14 footer is a completely different beast. The glide is different. The turns are different. How you go over waves and through chop is different. But I was feeling pretty good out there. I felt like I was moving along pretty well until somehow I ended up in the water. I’m still not sure how that happened, but it did. So, I hopped back on my board and got back to work.
At the first turn, I made a decent pivot turn. Not perfect, but not too bad. I overtook a few other paddlers and lost little momentum. I was feeling good here. I thought I would be losing steam about this point, but I was still going at a decent pace and not feeling fatigued at all. I saw a few familiar faces as I started paddling back towards the next turn and cheered them on as we passed. For the next mile or so, I was in my zone. I found someone to draft for a couple of minutes so I could maintain my pace. Coming up to the second turn, with Kevin just to the front of me, I was feeling pretty good. That is until, during the turn, I lost my balance and ended up back in the water.
So back up on my board for the final stretch to the finish. One guy, I had been on pace for most of the race jumped ahead of me during my fall. I don’t know where this competitive side came from but I wanted to beat this guy. He had been behind me for the last half of the race and I wasn’t about to let him finish ahead of me now. I gave everything I had in that last bit of the race and as I made the turn at the final buoy, he was barely ahead of me. I paddled my board as far as I could, into the surf, and leaped for the sand. It was going to a foot race to the finish. – We tied. 40:03.
Of all the races I’ve competed in so far, this one was the most mind challenging. It was in the open ocean. I was on a foreign board. And it had a ton of people competing in it. I’m not sure what I was expecting from it as far as my performance, but I am pleased with how I paddled. I set out to try something new and I did it. It’s still early in race season and I think I made a pretty solid showing so all I can do now is build upon what I have learned paddling with Capital SUP and work harder to become a better paddler and racer.
After all the excitement of the Rincon Beach Boy SUP race, we still had the rest of Saturday until Tuesday to vacation in this paradise. We spent all day at the race site with our flotilla of floats and cold beverages. Those that didn’t paddle were on the beach cheering each of us that did. We all went to the awards ceremony where we got to see five of us on the podium. Capital SUP made a solid showing at Rincon this year.
Sunday and Monday were filled with even more fun. Surfing, yoga on the beach, boat rides, tubing, amazing food, and just hanging out with this family we have created.
What really made the Capital Adventures ~ Rincon Beach Boy 2017 trip most memorable for me was not necessarily the race itself, but how it solidified and strengthened this paddling family that I have been lucky enough to join and the new friends I have made in the process.
So now, with my seventh race under my belt and now a coach with Capital SUP, I am already thinking about my next trip. Where to next?