Big thanks to Eric Lumbert (w/ Paddleboard New Smyrna Beach) and Adam Berringer the Mayor of New Smyrna, for putting on such an awesome event. Over 60 people came out Saturday, February 16th @ 10am for the Mayor’s River Fest Paddle Series! The weather worked on our side for once. Light wind, not too cold and the current wasn’t very strong going through the river. Was a perfect day for the first of the series of 4 races.
All of us participants collectively got to the water and started getting on our boards, making our way to the start line - with the long distance racers in the front of the line up and the short course racers just behind us. They gave us the 30 second warning, so we waited patiently for the horn. I was sitting in ready stance on my Starboard and the horn sounded and we were off and paddling towards a small bridge that funneled us to a canal.
Westy form Yolo boards was just in front of me on a 14’, so I just tried to stay close to keep position.
We stayed on the left side of the canal to stay out of the current that we were paddling against. We reached the canal's opening as it opened to the river and went left. I noticed the left side of the river was sheltered from the wind so I stayed close to the shoreline in the flats. I was happy to have my Starboard “Ruza” 0.5 neoprene tank on. Kept me so warm during the 15 mph gusts of chilly wind for sure. We came up to our next turn and made a right hand buoy turn and headed back towards the canal. On the way back I shouted and cheered on all the racers I passed, giving them encouragement that they were doing great and for them to pick up the pace. Along the way I saw my fellow Starboard team rider Jessica Cichra working with another Orlando paddler Heather Kaarup! They were drafting each other to save energy. It’s so nice to see people working together in competitive racing. They were taking turns, switching leads which is the nice way to draft! There was surely great camaraderie and spirit of aloha at this race!
We started to enter the canal for the last stretch and I had managed to keep my position in third overall for the entire duruation, but I could hear Chip Bock right behind me. He's an awesome local racer who was on a 14’ Bark and he was getting close. I started to crank it a little faster and hug the side of the canal where it was nice and flat. I shot under the bridge and headed to the finish to take 3rd overall and 1st place in the Men's 12’6” division. What a great race. I was super stoked for such a nice day on the water!