This last weekend saw Starboard Dream Team rider Fiona Wylde compete in her first race after 15 months, a racing hiatus brought on by the global pandemic which has seen most events postponed or cancelled around the globe. The race was a local Pacific North West race and “it was a blast,” says Fiona. She took first place in the overall SUP division for both male and female class. Below are some photos and a race recap.
“The Deception Pass Race was my first SUP race I paddled in after 15 months without racing! It’s crazy to think that so much time has gone by! One thing is certain, I have really missed racing.
When I heard about this race put on by the Salmon Bay Paddle Shop, I jokingly asked my parents, “Hey! Want to go to a SUP race this weekend?” After the year we have all had, such a question was a bit of a novelty. But my parents were thrilled, so we loaded up the van, booked a campsite, and drove up to Deception Pass State Park and spent a family weekend camping and racing.
Deception Pass is in Northern Washington and is the gateway to the San Juan Islands. It’s a beautiful part of the Pacific North West with steep islands dropping straight into the chilly water. The racecourse paddled in and out of these islands for an 8-mile course that was timed with the outgoing ebb current.
It was absolutely pouring rain on Saturday and about 8*c, but that didn’t discourage 40 racers from participating in the Deception Pass Paddle.
The racecourse had a little bit of everything, flat water, upwind, up current, down current, oh and rain! Did I mention rain? Lots of it! It was classic PNW conditions.
I felt very strong in the race. Part of it was that I was so excited to be racing and another part is that I have been training hard and wanting the opportunity to race. Off the start line, a few guys pulled into my draft. The race was pretty relaxed with rules about who could draft who, so we all went with it. I pulled those guys for about two miles until I pulled away. From there on out, it was all about staying focused and reading the water. Even though I didn’t have any stand up paddlers around me, there were a bunch of surf skis and outriggers who I was able to keep pace with. I won the race, finishing first for the stand-up paddlers, both men and women.
For me, since I can’t race internationally at the moment, I am so excited to reconnect with the local Pacific North West crew. When I was first getting into SUP, I raced in as many local events as I could. It feels like I am coming back to my roots and I am so happy to reconnect with the local paddling community. There are a few more local races that I’ll participate in until I (hopefully) fly to Europe to race in the Euro Tour in June.
Big thanks to the organizers who put this race together and a special thanks to my parents, who toughed it out despite the freezing rain and the cold.
See you on the water!