What a weekend! I just returned from a whirlwind adventure that was intended to be yet another race in the Fastest in Florida SUP Series, The Shark Bite Challenge.
This week, in preparation for the trip I put new front tires and new rear brakes on my 1996 Taurus wagon, which has an unknown (but well above 250,000) amount of miles on it. It was a free car and last year I wouldn't have driven it 6 hours for a race because I didn't think it would make it there, but this year, me and Scotty (my car) seem to be feeling more and more adventurous. Or maybe its that my goals this season are even more ambitious and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get myself to races.
I left after teaching my last class on Friday afternoon and drove pleasantly and uneventfully 5 hours to Sarasota, FL where I stayed the night with Brian and Francesca from Hovie SUP. Driving through Sarasota was pretty emotional for me. I-75 passes right next to Nathan Benderson Park, where in December of last year I paddled 110 miles in 24 hours and broke a SUP World Record. Seeing the park brought me right back to those moments of trial and triumph. I cried the last several miles tears of gratitude, joy, and pride.
Another interesting story about my delightful stay in Sarasota, Brian and Francesca were present at my 24 hour World record and Francesca wrote to me shortly afterwards to tell me that I had inspired her so much that she quit her job and started the company she had always wanted to create. www.swiftwearusa.com. Its moments like that when I feel the most inspired myself and humbled by the possibilities in life.
In the morning it was chilly and windy. I drove 1.5 hrs more to the race site, where over 350 paddlers had entered in 8 different race divisions. The Shark Bite Challenge was set to be the biggest race participation I have ever seen in the state of Florida. Unfortunately it was deemed too windy by the race officials and the Coast Guard and the race was cancelled. EVERYone was BUMMed!! But, what can you do? Safety first. No one was injured or lost, and the wind had kicked up quite a little swell, (for Florida West coast) so a whole bunch of us jumped in the water any how and did some SUP surfing.
I ended up having a blast, catching a few nice waves and practicing my downwinding skills surrounded by dozens of my fellow SUP friends. Normally crowds at a surf break scare me away, but this was different because we were all in it together, making the best out of the day and the disappointing weather.
The 6 hour drive home was not too bad. No mishaps, but I did have to stop in St Pete and pick up a kayak for my parents and and somehow tie that and my board to the roof racks on my car. (I am so happy I am a sailor and tie a knot or two!)
Even though I didn't get to race, I am still ever so grateful to my sponsors for all of their support in getting me to where I am today. www.Mistral.com