So I am insanely disappointed with the fact that apparently the Battle of the Paddle will not be happening this year, and possibly ever again. This is due to their main sponsor pulling out and apparently they are awaiting to see if another will step up.
Personally I think it is because of political reasons however it really doesnt matter.
This is the race this year I have been focusing on. I didn't make it to Carolina Cup because it was either that or BOP, and I chose BOP. I wanted to see how much I improved throughout the year in comparison to my last years results. Not only that but if I'm going to use vaca time, id chose cali over NC any day. I wanted the challenge that the ocean race offers. There are only so many flat water races that you can do before it becomes extremely boring (for myself) so this provided me an outlet that I enjoyed. And now…its not happening :(
This brings me to a story however, and yet another life lesson learned from our lovely sport of SUP. Take opportunities as they come along.
Here's the story of my lesson;
Last year I was not planning on doing BOP, as it was my first year racing and I knew I didn't stack up to the top. It wasn't till a sorta last minute offer from my awesome board sponsor, Coreban, that I decided to just get out there and wing it. I mean hey, its California, the worst that can happen is I do my best and have fun right!?
So I booked my flight. As weeks came closer, the swell built, and they were calling for 7-10ft seas for the race. I wanted a surf race, but holy $*%&! It was also a change of location for the race to a well know SURF spot, which of course we all know these race boards aren't necessarily the 'surf board' of choice on overhead waves.
I arrived Thursday, took my race board out in the head high swell at SanO for the first time in my life on waves, and prepped for race day.
Saturday came and let me tell you something…the swell was PUMPING! All I wanted to do was grab my board and surf.
As many know, the BOP is an ' in and out' style lap race. This is where you paddle a certain distance (about 1-1.5 miles) around buoys, and come in to the beach, run a course, and head back out. You do this for a specific distance. I think it was 4 times for BOP.
As the girls race came, the swell was still building. The line up was STACKED with every single of the best racers in the world. This is the world series race of paddling. So we waited, and it was in between sets, and they wouldn't blow the host. We waited, and waited, and waited, and then they started the count down JUST AS A SET WAS COMING!!
This was the biggest longest set of the day by FAR, and the horn blew. I paddled my ass off to stay as close to the top girls as possible. I just made it over the crest of the first wave and BAM, went into the water. The issue was the waves were so close that I scrambled onto my board but it was too late, here came another wave, except it already broke and the white water was at least head high. I attempted to slice my board through but the power of the water won. The next 5 waves I was just jumping off my board in order to dodge other boards that were flying at my head. The rip was pulling me down the beach and I couldn't get out!!! I couldn't believe I got stuck in this set. I mean I surf, I shouldn't have a problem with this, right?!? WRONG! These boards are extremely difficult to get out in stuff like this. It was so heart wrenching. When the last wave of the set came, I scrambled on my board along with the other girls, and started out. The leaders were so far ahead there was absolutely no way to come close, so I just made sure I wasn't going to get lapped lol!!
It took me a while to get going because I was so out of breath from getting pounded, but I managed to finish with a smile.
Certain things happened that day and were overheard, that were a bit discouraging for the distance race the next day on Sunday. If it weren't for my friend Arlene Cohen, US Paralympic Snowboard champ, who gave me a pep talk that night over the phone, I wouldn't have even raced the distance race.
Sunday came, and the swell was still there. Although this time, we had to just go out and in once, for the 9 mile distance race. When they started the race I stayed on the start line until the set passed and was the absolute last racer to start, but I didn't want to get pounded again. After all, the day before someones fin put a hole in one board, I didn't want to ruin another. My lovely boyfriend coach Roray Kam, was yelling at me from the beach, GO!!! I finally mustard courage to head out on a small wave set and managed to catch up to everyone and have a decent race placing 5th over all and 3rd in my age group, catching the wave of the day in. Always cool to hear the announcers on the speakers as you are paddling for a wave, 'WOAHHHHH!!!!!!!YEAH!!!!" when you are on it!
I seriously could have surfed that wave forever and forgot about the race but I turned into the finish line! Even someone when I was running up the line yelled, 'that wave alone was worth the weekend'! YIPPEE!
That weekend provided me with a wealth of experiences and knowledge. Learning to surf on my race board in big waves without ever practicing, pushing through hurtful words, smiling no matter what and remembering how much fun this really is and just enjoying every experience.
SO- now that I bore you with my long story, the point is, last year I almost didn't go, but THANK GOD I did because there will be no BOP this year and no way to EVER experience that again. When opportunity knocks, take that shit and run with it and don't look back. Im not saying do something stupid where you are going to get hurt (even that race I wouldn't recommend for someone without surf background), but just everything in life in general.
You may not have another chance. You don't know whats gonna happen tomorrow, or next week or even next year.
There have always been things in life that Im sure you wish you did, but you didn't for a stupid reason, or things you did and are thankful that you did because you realize how valuable the experience was.
And mostly remember to have so much fun you can't stand it. It seriously isn't about winning. Not even close. Winning is fun, but really it doesn't mean crap. Its about community, and fun, and experience, and joy, and smiles, and encouragement, and teamwork, and happiness, and beauty, and preserverence, and the list goes ON and ON and ON…
Don't wait for anyone. Do it for yourself. Travel, enjoy your favorites, soak it up, maxx out!
Time to shift my focus to whats next on my list Molokai to Oahu 2016, here I come! I know they won't cancel that….fingers crossed I get accepted.