Nearly 90 racers in nine standup paddleboarding categories
departed from Wrightsville Beach across the street from the Blockade Runner
Beach Resort, paddling north in Banks Channel at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18.
Recreational racers made one trip around Harbor Island while
elite racers made two.
April Zilg, 27, of Wrightsville Beach, who laid down in
exhaustion after crossing the finish line and promptly sprang back up with a
renewed energy, was the fastest among the elite women with a time of 1:42:13.
“Lees Cut was the toughest part,” Zilg said. “You were
against the wind the entire time. When you’re against the wind, you have to
give it your all just to hold your position. Then when there is a lull in the
wind, you sprint as hard as you can.”
Zilg’s training has just begun for the Carolina Cup and a
host of other events.
“We have a bunch of really good local races, and a lot of
people from here travel to Maryland and Florida and to the Battle of the Paddle
in California,” Zilg said.
An awards banquet followed the race where patrons took
refuge from the cold with a coffee, a Natty Greene’s beer or some hot chili.
Winners, including Jeremy Whitted in the elite men’s 14’,
Will Lathan in the elite men’s 12’6”, Eric Kopka in the recreational men’s
12’6” and under, Neil Macindoe in the recreational men’s 14’, Chris Hill in the
prone unlimited and James Smith in the surfski unlimited had the chance to
stand atop the tiered podium in victory.
Anna Blackburn, 14, won both the recreational kid’s and
recreational women’s 12’6” and under categories.
“I’ve been racing for about a year now, I’m loving it. I
ride a Naish 12’6” which is the fastest board out right now. I was faster than
I thought I was going to be today so I’m very proud of myself,” Blackburn said.
Jeoffrey Nathan, event organizer and co-founder of Coastal
Urge said he hoped every racer took home a good experience.
“When the wind’s gusting up to 25 miles per hour and it’s
freezing with the wind chill, I think it’s just a major accomplishment for
novice and experienced paddlers,” Nathan said.