Monday 19 November 2012

Surf to Sound 2012

Just got home from a great weekend in Wrightsville Beach at the 2nd Annual Surf to Sound Challenge.    When you are from Toronto and it's mid November it's always nice to get away somewhere south, even if the weather when you get there is kind of cold and grey.  It's even better when you are in one of your favorite places and you're there with a dozen of your best friends from home.  Yes, there was a Canadian invasion of Wrightsville Beach this weekend and we had so much fun I guarantee we'll be back.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get off work to spend Friday, the best of the 3 days weather wise, with my posse honing my surfing skills.  My Friday was spent at work and then rushing to Buffalo to catch an evening flight.  I got into the Blockade Runner past midnight and was up for breakfast at 7 a.m. 

Race morning was chilly - maybe 50 F (10 C).  A lot colder than I had hoped for and the north wind was probably about 20 mph gusting to maybe 30, making for conditions a lot more challenging than those we experienced last year.  It's funny how the waves always look smaller from shore than they actually are.  When it came time to punch out through the surf on the start there was a lot of carnage and boards flying everywhere.  I took my time off the start and used a race plan similar to what worked for me last year.  Unfortunately the buoy placement this year meant we never really had a well lined up downwind run.  We went way out on an angle towards the buoy off the jetty and then had to come back in to enter the Masonboro inlet.  It would definitely have been more fun if we didn't go out as far and then surfed straight downwind to the end of the jetty, but it was the same course for everyone so it was all good.

When I got to the jetty I didn't recognize it.  Not only were the waves bigger than I had ever experienced there, but the tide was so high the jetty wasn't there in places.  This meant the passage through the jetty was really choppy with a strong wind and chop coming from the right.  By this point I was sitting in good shape and definitely within striking distance from the guys I could see in the lead not too far ahead.  When we got to the inside end of the jetty and turned south into the sound I closed the gap really quickly.  There were some great, clean, and very fast knee high runners here and I was able to keep linking them till they flattened out and just left us with a strong tailwind and small chop.  By this time I was almost at the turn buoy and could see the leader going around it about 150 m in front of me.  I had figured it was Dan Gavere and was happily surprised to see it was my buddy from home, Doug Tutty who had had an insanely good ocean leg.  I had passed Doug on the ocean and then when I fell off my board he passed me back.  When we went around the buoy off the end of the jetty he was a little ahead but I saw what appeared to be him careening out of control out to sea rather than picking up a line to the inlet.  I figured I had left him behind with the line I'd taken but apparently not as there he was leading the race!  Right on his tail was Jarrod Covington, a local Carolina paddler.

I got around the turn quickly and was in 3rd and about 100m down which I closed down pretty quickly and then, after a brief rest on Jarrod's wash, put my head down and just plowed through the headwind back to the finish in front of the Blockade Runner.  I was relieved and happy to have pulled out a pretty comfortable win in a race where the ocean leg for me wasn't very pretty.  I was also thrilled to see 5 Canadians in the top 10 including Chris Stringer in 5th right behind Dan Gavere and Doug, Jonathon Hollins and Rich Phelan in the top 10 as well.  The other thrill was meeting Jeremy Riggs at the finish who I hadn't realized had been in the race.  Jeremy and I tried to hook up for a downwind run on Sunday but the weather got insane as a Nor'easter came in.  The rain was torrential and the ocean looked insane.  After the number of beers consumed on Saturday night I figured it was beyond what I was ready for.

A huge thank you to the Blockade Runner for hosting the event and providing the usual great hospitality and to all the usual Carolina suspects for their part in putting on another great event.  I LOVE padding in Wrightsville Beach and every time I am there people make me feel right at home.

The Canadian invasion was a success.  Everyone had an awesome time and despite the weather most of the guys spent a ton of time surfing and kiting as well as doing the race.  We will definitely be back next year!