Paddling Wrighsville Beach

Sharing the Stoke: Front Porch Sitting at The Carolina Cup.

Front Porch Sitting.

Gentle swaying to and fro in the rocking chair. Saying hello to the passerby. Extending an invitation for them to join in. And in no time. One or two turns into a group. Telling stories. Talking about life.

We were front porch sitting. And it was perfect.

Boards and more boards
Bark, prone and sup boards on display at the Carolina Cup

Wrightsville Beach

Just over a week ago, I packed up my car and headed north to the North Carolina beach town, Wrightsville Beach. Loaded with boards, paddles and all the other goodies that go along with it.

An annual trip to the friendly southern town. And one that we anxiously await year after year.

It is the Carolina Cup. A stand up paddleboard race that kicks off the start to the season in North America. Over 600 paddlers from across the globe. All making the journey.

A Social Gathering

Cottage life
Social hour at the Carolina Cup in Wrightstville Beach

It is more than just a race. It acts as a reunion. Some of us only seeing each other at this one event. Others more of a monthly ritual. But you’d never know who knew each other from who didn’t. Everyone greets each other as if they’ve known each other for a lifetime.

This became very apparent on Thursday night as we, Team Surftech, hosted a social gathering at the cottage next to the Blockade Runner, the host hotel. With boards scattered on the lawn. And people sitting on the porch. The hour rolled on into 2 and then 3. Displaying the vibe of the weekend ahead.

We met people from small towns in the mid west. To exotic countries that took multiple flights to get to. Everyone was filled with excitement. And eager to discuss everything from the course we would set out on. To what the best board was for their race. And the best part, these questions were answered by the likes of Joe Bark, legendary shaper and pioneer of both stand up paddling and prone paddling, Travis Grant who placed second in the pro race, Titouan Puyo two time champion of the pro race, Marcus Hansen who won the last pro tour stop as well as our regional team members.

Demo Day

Paddleboarding
All smiles on the water at the Carolina Cup Demo Day

Friday brought us to the Atlantic Intracoastal. Just across the street from the cottage and Blockade Runner. We joined all of the other brands on the beach. Allowing paddlers to try the many boards. And feel the differences between them all. Even with windy conditions, all levels of paddlers took advantage of the opportunity.

The highlight of the day was from our Team Rider from Crystal Lake Adventure Sports in Michigan, Sam Griffin. A young future paddler came up to the booth excited to get on the water. But had never paddled before. And Sam jumped to the opportunity to teach her how. Moments later they both were paddling around, wearing the biggest smiles on the beach.

The stoked was shared.

Demo Day lesson
Sam Griffin shares some pointers to a young paddler

 

Race Days

On Saturday and Sunday paddlers headed out on the water to challenge themselves and their personal goals. The courses, designed for new and experienced paddlers alike, always provide excitement to those participating and watching.

The races covered 3 different distances, a 5k, 10k and a 21k. And each race shares a section of course. Putting the top pros alongside the first timers. Adding to the stories and a connection with fellow paddlers.

Along with the different amounts of distance being paddled, different crafts could be used in each event. Seeing the likes of the traditional paddleboard, known as a prone board, the outrigger canoe, surfski and stand up paddleboards. Truly allowing people to paddle whatever they have in their quiver.

Stand up paddleboard racing
Jonathan Bischof from Vermont Ski and Paddle.

Next Year

Yesterday as I sat in my car, heading south to Jupiter. It was hard not to smile. The week was filled with more laughs and great times than I can remember. Putting the perfect exclamation point on why I continually enjoy paddling. And the awesome community that supports our sport of stand up paddling.

It is the reason why I’m already looking to sign up for next year’s event.

Racing and Smiling
The 13 mile course of the Graveyard at the Carolina Cup

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