Wrightsville Beach NC...Stand Up Paddleboard competitors from three nations, ten states and the District of Columbia, enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's for today's inaugural NC Surf to Sound Challenge. Shawn Spencer, Race Chairman, said: "Today's North Carolina Surf to Sound Challenge exceeded all expectations. Over 107 racers joined us today in this benefit FOR Masonboro Island."
However, Northeast winds were strong at 10-15 knots, and the surf was rough for the ocean start. Seas were three feet, increasing the challenge for the elite athletes. Elite paddlers navigated a 6.5 mile course, with a Le Mans style beach start, running to pick up their boards and splashing into the frequent and heavier than usual surf. Once getting past the breaking surf, the elite athletes braved the open Atlantic Ocean, battled through Masonboro Inlet, and paddled the channel behind Masonboro and Wrightsville into a stiff wind before reaching the finish line.
Winners: Elite Surf to Sound Challenge Race
Men's 14 ft category
- Larry Cain, Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Time: 1hr 11min 09 sec Note: Larry is a Gold Medal Olympian and World Champion in Sprint Canoeing, and in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame
- Doug Ellis, Virginia Beach, VA
- Chris Hill, Holly Ridge, NC
- James Bain, Wilmington, NC
- William Miller, Manteo, NC
Women 12.6ft category
- Kate Lewis, New Bern, NC, Time: 1hr 32min 44sec
- April Zilg, Wilmington, NC
- Kim Sutton, Wilmington, NC
- Kimberly James, Wilmington, NC
- Jenny Alderman, John's Island, SC
Elite Masters 50+
- Tom Pace, Pensacola, FL Time: 1hr 24min 30sec
- William Pope, Wilmington, NC
- Guy Davis, Hampstead, NC
- Clay Thornhill, Charleston, SC
- Michael Metzger, Key Largo, FL
Intermediate paddlers crowned their champion on a 4 mile flatwater course, the popular Harbor Island Outer Loop. While conditions were more serene than the elite course, racers faced stiff winds, tide changes and intense competition as they navigated the wide water circle around Harbor Island and the now famous Loop.
Winners: Intermediate Harbor Island Outer Loop
Men 14ft Division
- Steve Dullack, Virginia Beach, VA, Time: 44min 23sec
- Mike Stanaway, Raleigh, NC
- Steven Capps, Wrightsville Beach, NC
- Ratley Warren, North Myrtle, SC
- Kris Matson, Cary, NC
Women 12.6ft Category
- Karen Wilson, Kure Beach, NC Time: 49min 22sec
- Susan Lew, Wilmington, NC
- Christine Rebman, Semora, NC
- Carly Tillotson, Duxby, MA
- Laura Stevens, Wilmington, NC
Men 12.6ft Category
- Mark Allison, Myrtle Beach, SC Time: 50min 20sec
- Patrick Akos, Chapel Hill, NC
- Justin Donaton, Kure Beach, NC
- John Cox
- Coty Pinckney
The youth competition fielded 8 paddleboarders who braved the cold air and 63 degree water at 9am to complete a 200 yard dash, rounding a buoy at the half way mark.
Winners: Youth Division of North Carolina Surf to Sound Challenge
- Tag Spencer, Wilmington, NC
- Henry Murtagh, Wilmington, NC
- Oliver Bain, Wilmington, NC
The North Carolina Surf to Sound Challenge was organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddleboard Club and Blockade Runner Beach Resort. WBPC spokesman Haywood Newkirk said today: "We are really excited about being part of the season ending fall race here at Wrightsville Beach. Having the event at this location will allow us to have a more challenging ocean start for the Elite Race, while simultaneously holding an enjoyable flatwater race for the recreational paddlers that are so important for the growth of this sport."
William Pope, Director for the World Paddle Association said: "It has been amazing to watch how quickly the stand up paddleboard (SUP) sport has grown throughout the country, especially in the Wrightsville Beach area. Wrightsville offers so many different types of water and conditions it appeals to everyone. As the SUP community continues to grow around the world, Wrightsville Beach will be at the heart of that growth on the East Coast."
The Surf to Sound Challenge was sanctioned by the WPA (World Paddle Association).