Monday, November 2, 2009

SUPs test run successful!

The question was inevitable, and it was posed about two months ago… “Will SUPs be allowed in the Dash this year?” Hmmm… the minds of the Dashmasters had no idea what to think. Tall, susceptible to wind, maybe not fast enough, can they maneuver eddylines, all those cool questions balanced against the solid evidence of the growth of this awesome sport… 100+ racers in Mercer Island’s “Round the Rock” in September… whaddya going to do?

Have a test run, of course.

Sunday November 1 on Bowman Bay were assembled 7 SUP boarders, 2 prone boarders, and ten safety kayakers who just had to be there to see the spectacle. And a perfect spectacle it was. After a briefing on the course, we took off from the starting line at 1:27pm, exactly 37 minutes before slack, just like on race day. Wind speeds were not what we might see on race day, evidenced by data according to the Smith Island weather station a few miles to the Southwest:

1:00 pm SE 8

2:00 pm SSE 5

3:00 pm SSE 8

Dueling for the lead, and pulling far away from the pack off the line, were Beau Whitehead on his 18’ SUP and Don Kiesling and his buddy Darrell on their prone boards. These guys paddle with their hands, on their bellies. What a couple stud bolts. The rest of the field trailed behind, but all nine boards completed the full course. Beau nipped the other two at the finish in about an hour 14 minutes. We’ll see how it looks on race day, but it’ll be another sweet twist on this spectacular race, having our SUP family join in the action.

Thanks to all the intrepid SUPrs who eagerly posed as course guinea pigs, and thanks also to Dave, Sonya, Marianne, Leslie, Mark, Wade, Jim (& your wife’s name was… oh I’m spacing that one) who got out there with radios, tow ropes & helmets to shepherd the group safely through the course.

Post race, the paddlers hung out, cooled off in the chilly water, and swapped boards for a few test runs. We debriefed the test run, congratulated all the boarders for making it through, and headed home to care for the unexpected sunburns we got on the first day of November.

Brandon and Heather Nelson put a nice writeup on their blog. These two adventurers have spent a big part of their lives pushing the envelope with outlandish experiences including a circumnavigation of Lake Baikal, a victory in the Yukon Challenge, and a spot in the Guiness World Record book for 24-hour paddling distance. Now they're racing SUPs and we're thrilled to have them talking up this very cool sport.

Great fun and sweet times on a beautiful day!


  1. have A Great time! :-)

  2. More pics from the day on my SUP blog..

    Will post the rest on soon.


  3. Hey Bill,
    Thanks for the organization and the follow-up post. We're flattered by your kinds words about our travels and adventures in the past, and with Hayden now setting a new standard for energy output, we can't but think, "We're just getting started!"
    I have to edit one of your remarks, though: Although I bested the PUBLISHED world record in '06 with a 146-mile effort, Carter Johnson of California had gone 3 days before me and covered an astounding 150+ miles, so he's the one in the Guinness Book. Thanks, though, and we'll see you at the Dash!

  4. BN - I stand corrected. But... dude... 24 hours at 6mph? That's screamin'. And very cool that it was for an inspiring cause. You rock, man.