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  • Jeramie Vaine

Why is Racing. Not Dying?

Racing is not dying.

The past two days shared a glimpse into why. With countless amounts of comments. Filled with fire and passion. I wanted to put together a blog with my favorites and most insightful. And a bit of insight on why I feel our sport is about to have a rebirth.

“Having fun is what it’s all about, competing is great and it’s fun to win, but knowing you gave your best effort is also rewarding. And when I say best effort, that includes as you said, welcoming new comers to our sport and making sure the pieces are in place so they too enjoy it and continue to do more races in the future.” ~ Jimmy Terrell

As someone who has been paddling longer than most. Jimmy Terrell’s knowledge and passion is spread across numerous paddles sports and industries. As well as being a paddler and former Olympian.

When he tells us to not lose focus on fun. Then shows up at events having more fun than anyone. He is the perfect role model for our sport. For anyone that has every approached Jimmy they are always greeted with the smile. And an open forum to discuss any and all topics of paddling.

“I think helping people understand they don’t need to spend lots of money on equipment and the ‘fun division’ is about taking whatever your equipment you can take part. I totally agree – so many of my regular paddlers are still intimidated to join the race.” ~ Kristy Wright Schell
Paddlers take to the line at Lake Mary Jane Paddle Festival. Where any and every paddle craft is accepted. Photo by James Henderson “Most people start out racing on rec boards anyway and we need to encourage them that it’s perfectly fine to race whatever they have! Once they’re racing addicted, they’ll invest in that raceboard. I’d also like to bring up the 12’6 size here – I’ll probably always race this size no matter if it’s 14′ and under cause I do better on a 12’6. Just like a newbie racer may do better on a rec board. Ultimately it’s whatever feels best to the individual and makes them more successful on the water to keep coming back – all sizes and shapes of boards should be celebrated!” ~ Jessica Cichra

These two quotes are something that the sport has embraced since the beginning. And more recently we have seen it adapt and encompass any and all paddle crafts. Including canoes and row boats.

It doesn’t matter the name on the board. Nor the size. Shape. Cost or color. Any and all is welcome. And when we see someone with a recreational shape board, sharing stories about how we started on them will make the paddler feel welcomed.

“The Community had me at my very 1st race and I never looked back…I’ll never forget THAT person who flipped the switch and thought to myself yeah, this is where I belong.” ~ Rachael Albanese “Such a great way to meet folks and see parts of the country via water. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of new SUP friends lend advice and encouragement in the last year or so…and it often started with “hey man, glad you made it to this race!” See you soon…” ~ John P. Batson
“Racing is still my favorite way of getting together with old and new friends. – and of cause it usually includes a good lunch.” ~ Fred Andersen
“I was this nervous wreck and was very scared of going to compete the last couple of years I’ve toyed with the idea and finally this summer I took the plunge you describe that feeling on the start line so well! I did it though and met an amazing community at the APP in London thanks to the Nisco one community I will be continuing to compete!!” ~ James Lush
The thrill of the camaraderie is life altering. I’ll never stop paddling, meeting new excited people, signing up for challenges and continuing my pursuit of happiness. Keep the spirit of the sport alive. From a mom with a 6pack. Hell yeah.” ~ Sarah Bliss
My wife taught me how to paddle this summer and on my third time on the board I did my first race. We went to NY and raced around the Statue of Liberty. I knew a few of the pros but not many. I met you, Travis Grant and Michael Booth. I had no idea who you guys were and you three were just chilling talking to me and my wifey. After the race Conner Baxter came and sat next to me. No one was around and we were just chatting like neighbors at a bbq. I am so impressed with this community. I’m new to the game and with the little racing I’ve done I’ve felt nothing but positive vibes from all. Man I love this sport. ~ Geo Villegas

These quotes sum up how so many of us feel when we head to the water on race day. Or even attending those group paddles. The community is something so special. People are beyond happy to talk stories and get to know new people. This is the root of our sport. And how it continues to grow. Being mindful of these experiences and making sure they continue to happen every where we go.

Wrightsville Beach Jr Elite Sup Team are working on it here! Year around program for going on 3 years. Most of our kids are on 12’6 boards, only a few on the kids models from a while back. We just sell them within the team. What are we teaching the kids? Racing is Fun! Really established this with the Elite group. They love to go to away races. We have camped out on people’s couches, docks and back yards! Our family loves it. We want the sport to grow and trying our best to help.” ~ Erin Carter

Many of you have expressed feelings about the kids being involved in the sport. It is happening. Throughout the country. Parents, paddlers, coaches are all sharing their passion with the kids and getting them out on the water. Areas like Wrigthsville Beach, Hood River, Lake Tahoe, Ponce Puerto Rico and Dana Point all have thriving kids programs. And I’m sure I’m missing a few. If we start teaching the kids to enjoy the time on the water it will come full circle.

Paris crossing will reach 1000 on the starting line. Glagla maybe 700 2 months after. In adverse meteorological conditions. Instead of looking at what should be done we should all look at what is done that already works. Why people are not afraid to get in the race in Paris? Why Benoît Mouren are constantly attracting hundreds of participants on his alpine tour races with very few elite paddlers and usually no price money…Let’s invite these organizers to explain us why it is working for them. If i was organizing an event before picking the brain of elite paddlers I would try to pick the brain of Benoit Mouren for sure. And if I was a federation I would definitely discuss with these people.” ~ Alain Teurquetil

We can learn from each other. There are many races out there that are seeing increased participation. And attendance. While others are seeing a drop off. We all can speculate the how’s or why’s. But as Alain mentions here, there are race directors who are putting on great events. Just like Chattajack with Ben and Kim Frieberg and the Hanohano with Dan Van Dyke and the Outrigger Clubs of California.

It is apparent that we as a sport are still growing. And learning. The strong out pouring from the community is making these events better and better. Sometimes we have to look at the big picture and not what is right in front of us.

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