The third annual Orange Bowl Paddle Championship race was held Sunday, Jan. 13 in Miami, Fla. With over 230 Racers who competed in Elite, Recreational and Sprint courses that started and finished inside the beautiful harbor. My first race of the season and hardly any training, or sleep from the night before. Dan Gavere and I drove down from Orlando and got there at 8:30am and the race was set to start at 9. Thanks to Dan and the 2 Starboard racers that came all the way from Germany to be in the competition!
They helped get the boards off and fins on while I went to register. Got my stuff together and headed to the water for the start. My gear consisted of a Starboard 12’6”x 26” All Star in brushed carbon. My super light, carbon fiber, Werner “Grand prix” M1000 paddle. I ate a pocket fuel as well so I could get a little protein before the race started. My favorite, Blueberries and banana! I didn’t have any hydration ready so I went without so I would have a little time on the water. Luckily the coast guard established a special local regulation for Biscayne bay that day. Which makes it so that no boats can cross through the race course.
The conditions were pretty crazy! Knee high chop with winds coming out of the southeast at 15+ knots! Not to mention the crazy reverb of water bouncing off the seawall. It was like racing in a washing machine. People were falling off their boards all around me.
The race coordinators decided to start Unlimited and 14’ Elite racers first. The 12’6” class second and the womens elite last. We crossed the open water of Biscayne bay to the loop that went down the Miami river that went right into the heart of the city. This was my favorite part of the coarse. There were people everywhere. The most non-event spectators I had ever seen at a race so far. Not to mention the awesome downwind sections, where the wind funnelled through the tall buildings. Creating little waves, which was awesome after fighting the gruesome wind and chop for the first section of the coarse. Like surfing a bunch of little waves. I felt strong on the way back to the start. Which surprised me having hardly trained and had no hydration.
After I finished Dan and I went to get some food and watched the sprint races from the balcony. By the time we were done eating we went to look at the results that were posted. I ended up finishing 14th in my division. I felt is was pretty good since I was up against the best paddlers from all over the world. Danny Ching took the win for the Mens 12’6” Elite which was the competitive class. My bro, Brad Ward, fellow Werner team paddler took 1st for the 14’ Elite. Candice Appleby taking the win for the ladies 12’6” Elite. Another awesome event with some of favorite people from all over the world. You’ll see me there next year for sure!