Kook Chronicles

Racing Around St. Croix

SUP Racing

Stand up paddlers heading out on the water of St. Croix for the Coconut Cup

Racers Get Set.

Boards in hand. Racers lined up across the beach. The gaze, out on the water. Focused. Like that of a soaring hawk.

And with the sound of the horn. The adrenaline rush hits. And we set out on the water.

This is the start of a stand up paddleboard race. One I took part in over the weekend.

It was a three day event. Short races. As well as long ones. A bit of something for everyone. With people who make up a community. Good friends always looking to make new ones. And add to the growing the community.

Why Racing?

In 2011 I was first introduced to stand up paddleboard racing.

And honestly I had no desire to race.

I enjoyed paddling, but the competition side. That shipped had sailed. Training seemed too much. I just wanted to casually enjoy an activity, for once.

But after attending a couple events. I realized it was less about the competition on the water. More about the camaraderie off the water.

This past weekend reminded me of this first experience. Sitting at a picnic table. Overlooking the Caribbean water. Surrounded by friends. Some I’ve known for just a few hours. Others years.

But we all sat there. Smiling. Laughing. And enjoying each others company.

A Global, Ageless Community.

As I walked back towards the table. Noticing the multiple conversations. And belly laughs. Something else grabbed my eye.

Teenagers to 70 year olds. All sitting together. Sharing stories. Different languages and dialects spoken. But never stopping the point of the story. And everyone clinging onto the next line.

The reason for the unique accents and languages. Is a simple one, the places the paddlers call home. And they Resemble more of a bucket list of destinations, than an attendance list of people at an event. Covering the likes of Australia, Hawaii, California, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and St. Croix.

The Coconut Cup

Living on the Island of St. Croix for the Winter. I’ve been able to paddle with many new friends. These friends have taken to the sport just as I have. A recreational activity, that has now become a passion.

This past weekend, we all were able to take that passion and test ourselves on the water.

The Coconut Cup is an SUP race that spanned over three days. With a downwind race, 5k, sprint race and a 10k.

Set on the West End of the island. With a backdrop that resembles something out of Jurassic Park.

It was a surreal. Even after spending the Winter on the island that hosted the race.

12K of Downwinding SUP Race

On Friday the event kicked off. The conditions lined up perfectly. Making for a fun downwinder, 12k race. From Cane Bay to Fredricksted.

We paddled along the majestic shoreline of Hams Bluff. Massive cliffs lined with trees, cactus and palm trees. Into the West End of St. Croix. Where we were greeted by friends cheering us on for the home stretch of the race.

Northwest Shore of St. Croix

The location of the 12k downwinder for the The Coconut Cup on the island of St. Croix

5K Racing in Frederiksted

Saturday was the 5k race. The racers were beyond inspirational. As they paddled around the waters in front of Freedom City Surf Shop.

From a far it appeared to be a sea of stand up paddlers. Enjoying the day on the water, with friends.

From the water, it revealed a fun race. Hiding the vast differences in ages. And levels of experience.

Some paddlers made attended the Coconut Cup annually. While today was others, first time racing.

Fans of the Coconut Cup

Stand Up Paddlers cheered on by the fans

Sprint Racing

As the day rolled on the sprints filled the afternoon. Pro and amateur paddlers, in both men and women categories. Competed in an action packed short race with a beach run.

Resulting in a photo finish in the men’s 14 division for 2nd and 3rd place. And many other playful battles on the water and on the beach. The competitors leaving the beach, breathless. But wearing smiles and greeting fellow competitors with high 5s.

It was apparent it was another great day on the water.

10K of Racing

Sunday brought about the 10k race. A course set up in the shape of a triangle.

Paddlers took off from beach for a beach start. Headed out onto the water, in a clockwise direction around the course. 5 laps. In front of cheering restaurant and beach goers.

And with the Centennial celebration occurring on the Island of St. Croix. The stand up paddlers were greeted with the arrival of the Danish Tall Ship. During the first few laps.

Just like the day before. The race brought out some heart racing finishes. This time the ladies battling for first and second.

Awards Celebration.

The day ended with an entertaining awards ceremony. Acknowledging all the paddlers who raced and to the volunteers and organizers who made it all possible.

In true race fashion, we had some good laughs and times after the awards. As some great live music took to the stage. Just adding to the weekend of paddling.

Photos by Kristin Thomas

Next Stop Puerto Rico

With SUP season starting to ramp up. Next weekend is filled with more paddling with great friends. And one of my favorite events.

The Rincon Beach Boy. Another race with paddlers from all across the world. And a local community that greets everyone with open arms. It is sure to live up to the previous years of great times.

And just another reason. Why I am grateful that I went to my first race six years ago.

Racing selfie

A sup race compete means celebration.

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