The 2016 Jay Moriarty Paddleboard Race on Saturday June 18th was one to remember. A combination of great weather, great ocean conditions, amazing people, and an overwhelming sense of community made this race one of the best ever.
I first paddled in the Jay Race back in 2009 and each year since have watched the event become stronger in community, spirit, and participation. This year TradePaddleboards was fortunate to be one of the sponsors of the 2016 event and contribute to that amazing growth of this event.
The day started with an excited atmosphere on the beach as the athletes all prepared in our own way to hit the water and paddle that challenging 12-mile course. My daughters and I sat together listening to the opening words by legends such as Jeff Clark, Frosty, and Kim Moriarty and felt the inspiration shared by all the athletes. With the final words the athletes re-focused on their race, checked their vent plugs, high fives each other good luck, and lined up for the start.
Race conditions were not simple with the ocean delivering a solid south swell challenging the athletes at the starting line with sets of steep 4 footers. As the starting horn sounded about half the prone paddleboard field raced out to punch through a set wave and only about half of those guys actually made it through. Those who didn’t make it lost something in the shore break — either their boards, water bottles, cages, or GPS units. Once the next set wave passed, the rest of us hit the water and pushed through the carnage and started the race (with all of our equipment 😃 ).
Race conditions were not simple with the ocean delivering a solid south swell challenging the athletes
Early in the race I bumped into a friend from Seattle (drove 12 hours to make the race) who lost both of his water bottles. I shudder at the thought of racing 12-miles without hydration so gave him one of my water bottles, effectively changing my own race game plan. But this was the Jay Race, more about community than self, and there was no room for anxiety over having a few less ounces of fluids.
The Jay Moriarty race course itself is one big loop starting at Capitola Beach, working up to Santa Cruz Wharf, out to the Mile Buoy, and back down to Capitola Beach for the finish. The line up to the Santa Cruz Wharf had a slight head wind and by the time we the first turn the lead SUP athlete had caught my prone group.
The SUP leader was Keith Chiselki from CoveWater Paddle Surf here in Santa Cruz. An up-and-coming SUP racer who’s getting faster and faster every time we see him and always wearing a huge smile (Keith ended up being the overall winner of this year’s Jay Race SUP division — congrats!). After the turn and heading out into the Monterey Bay the two-mile run out to Mile Buoy was challenging with a decent cross-wind to make things interesting. As soon as we rounded the buoy with usual hard looks from the resident Sea Lions we were starting the road home.
The way back down to Capitola was good for some and not so great for others. On a 14-foot prone Bark board I had no problem getting into, and linking, many small runners helping me push through the pack I was with and catch up to the next. The sun was shining strong and all in all the ride back down down to Capitola was fast and fun. The final stretch into the beach and finish line was really fun with prone and SUP divisions coming together in a tight line through the shore break. Even at the end when the intensity of racing is sometimes the highest the natural vibe of the Jay Race was strong with smiles and words of encouragement passing between athletes as we all stroked the final few feet to the finish line.
Back on the beach we all shared stories of our race and congratulated each other on another great event. Meanwhile all the short course athletes had finished their race and were excited to have paddled in what they expected to be a 2-mile race but turned out to be more like 3.6 miles. My own kids were a bit taxed but really amped that they had push themselves way further than expected.
This was the Jay Race, more about community than self, and there was no room for anxiety over having a few less ounces of fluids
With more events lined up for the day including a kid race on the beach and the famous swim-prone-SUP Waterman Challenge event the rest of the afternoon flew by. At the TradePaddleboards booth we had a ton of great conversations with new folks expressing their need for an effective way to either buy or sell used paddle boards. I met some great people and look forward to helping them with their used board needs.
At the end of it all this 15th annual Jay Moriarty paddleboard race was what I would consider to be the best ever. The spirit, sense of community, and beautiful conditions could not have been better. Thanks to all the folks who’ve kept this amazing legacy alive year after year. I look forward to participating again next year in 2017 and will maybe duct tape my water bottles so I can get a few extra seconds at the start 🙂