Race Recap: Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle 2013

Rainbow Sandals & Gerry Lopez Battle of the Paddle

Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle

This past week was a big week for me because I completed my first stand up paddle board race at the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle. The event was held at Dana Point Harbor, CA and was a fun filled weekend for event participants and spectators alike. I have been surfing most of my life but I’ve never been involved in any surf or water sport competition other than triathlons and open water swim races. The amount of people at this event was mind blowing to me.

My friend Christine and I headed out to Dana Point around 7:30am. We live about an hour away so we strapped our boards on the car and headed to the OC for the Battle of the Paddle. We weren’t really sure what to expect as neither of us had ever done anything like this before. To top it off, neither of us felt very trained for the event. To say we had butterflies in our stomachs is an understatement.

We got to the race and there was a drop off spot for our boards while we drove another 1-2 miles to park our car. Thank goodness for the board drop off. We got our bib numbers, tags, and goodie bags and picked a spot on the beach to lay our boards and hang out before our race. We got a free pair of Rainbow Sandals in our bags which was pretty sweet. I already own 2 pairs of Rainbows (they are THE BEST) so I got my husband a pair in his size so he can be cool like me now. One of my pairs is almost 10 years old now – I got them when I interviewed Sparky for a story in Transworld Business in 2003. Talk about a flashback!

Back to the race. We saw on the beach and watched the elites charge the loops of the course and maneuver their paddles in and out of the surf at one of the critical buoy turns. It freaked us out. We were sitting on the beach with our mouths dropped open thinking we bit off more than we could chew. We were scared. Everyone racing had boards at least 2-3 feet longer than us. I was racing on my 9’6” Surf Diva SUP by Focus which was definitely one of the smallest boards in the race. Oh well. I wanted to race and that was all I had!

After the elite course, Christine and I weren’t sure what to do. We met these ladies on the beach who asked us why we weren’t getting ready. We said we were scared. She said “Oh please, my husband is 52 and out there. Just go out and do it.” We were motivated by her words and suited up. We decided to hang back and take it slow. 4 loops. 1 mile each. 4 miles total. That’s it. I can do this. Here’s a map of the course:

Battle of the Paddle Open SUP Race Course

The race course.

We paddled out and hung to the back of the pack. Paddling out in the surf was the easy part for me because the waves weren’t too big and I’m used to it from surfing. I paddled to the first buoy and made my turn. Okay, not so bad. My second turn was in the surf line and as I was turning a set came in. This wasn’t a big deal except the front runners of the unlimited board size class were coming in and I didn’t want to get in their way. I hustled to get through the buoy without disrupting anyone’s line. There was a fierce headwind and ocean chop during the first loop that was fierce at first but died down as the race went on and by the third lap the sun was out.

By the third loop I was ready to be done but my only goal was to finish and my only competition was myself and I kept going. It was much easier to focus without the frontrunners behind me making me super nervous. By the time I completed the 4th lap and came into the beach I was exhausted. But I did it! I was hungry, tired, and thirsty but I did it!

Battle of the Paddle 2013

We did it! Our first paddleboard race!

I can see why people get addicted to paddle boarding. Here are some overall observations from my first race:

  • Size Matters: When I first got my paddle board people told me I’d never be able to race on a 9’6”. I didn’t understand why. Now I do.
  • Hydrate: I saw a lot of people with hydration packs while they paddled. Smart. The ocean water and the exertion dehydrated you quickly.
  • Eat Properly: Make sure to eat before the race. I spent so much time waiting around before my time start that I didn’t eat right before and that hurt me early on.

Overall the Battle of the Paddle was a ton of fun. Thank you to Sparky from Rainbow Sandals for creating such an amazing event. I hope to compete in another Paddle Board race again soon!

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Reddit 0 Google+ 0 LinkedIn 0 StumbleUpon 0 Pin It Share 0 0 Flares ×