2011 US Surfski Champs Race Report

US Surfski Championship

Top 10 Results Long Course
1. Dawid Mocke South Africa  Fenn Elite 1:54:35
2. Matt Bouman South Africa Epic V10 1:58:38
3. Sean Rice South Africa Think Uno Max 1:59:47
4. Barry Lewin South Africa Custom Kayak Bullet 2:02:34
5. Dan Sanchez Spain Fenn Elite 2:04:10
6. Robert Barry Australia Fenn Elite 2:05:46
7. Greg Barton Seattle, WA Epic V12 2:07:05
8. Tommy Karls Sweden Fenn 2:07:50
9. Dorian Wolter Delware, OH Fenn Elite 2:08:57
10. Phillipe Boccara Newport Beach, CA Fenn Elite 2:09:12

Full Race Results

August 13-14, 2011:  Wavechaser hosted the 9th annual US Surfski Championships in San Francisco Bay this past weekend, attracting both top national and international paddles due to the great venue and cash purse. Early week forecasts were looking for potentially small conditions, then race morning the forecast was rumored for the wind and waves to pick up. Winds were in the mid 20s around Angel Island once the race got underway but big water racing conditions never materialized. The long race course challenged racers with 17 miles of mixed conditions with the first half offering flat sprint racing to the buoy and the second half including classic San Francisco Bay slop and moderate surfing conditions to Berkeley marina. Short course racers left 45 minutes after the long course start, meaning racers would hit Angel Island and the finish at roughly the same time. Locals were rating the conditions as a 3-4 out of 10 on the wind-o-meter, though everyone was challenged by the current and rebound in the second half.

Dawid Mocke at the Fenn Hotspot

The long course race started at roughly 1:45 pm, with a thick marine layer and visibility to Angel Island. Racers got off to a fast start and sprinted towards the Golden Gate Bridge in a dense pack. At 2:30, with the marine layer breaking and visibility clearing, the short course race had their start. Roughly 15 minutes later, long course lead paddler Dawid Mocke came into sight from behind the bridge. Close on his tail were Matt Bouman and Sean Rice, making for a close race to the Fenn Hotspot. Mocke lengthened his lead from the two and reached the hotspot with time to spare. Minutes later the rest of the pack was close behind, with the top 20 paddlers rounding the corner and racing to the Fenn Hotspot to start their downwinder to Angel Island’s Point Blunt. Dawid pulled ahead in the downwind section and finished over 4 minutes ahead of the second place finisher Matt Bouman. After this point, racers from both course began crossing the finish line in rapid succession.

Long Course Highlights:

Dawid Mocke returned to reclaim his title from last year and dominated throughout the course in his Fenn Elite, claiming both the Fenn Hotspot as well as a first place finish. His skill in a surfski was apparent as always, as he seamlessly linked waves on the downwinder while other were struggling to catch them. Greg Barton rebounded from a second place finish at the Wildside relay last month in the Columbia Gorge and reclaimed is title as the fastest US surfski paddler with a 7th place finish. Gabe “The Hammer” Newton was as strong as ever and finished 13th despite just getting back stateside 3 days earlier from his 5th place finish in the Avon Descent in Australia. Patrick Hemmens, who had been giving a lesson in downwinders all week in the new Fenn Elite SL,  finished strong with a 14th place. Don Kielsing, right on Pat’s tail, finished 15th in the AllWave CX, a surfski out of Italy, edging out local favorite Carter Johnson who finished 16th.

DJ passing the Fenn Hotspot

The 22 year old slalom powerhouse, Austin Kieffer ripped up the course in a 22 lb Fenn Mako XT, claiming 19th place despite just starting surfski paddling two weeks earlier. Austin glided past his former slalom coach (that’s me) at Angel Island with a quick “What Up”. After a mild bonk at Angel island, I attempted to chase down Austin but was unable to close the gap at the finish, coming in 2 places behind the young gun in 21st place. The new Fenn Swordfish provided a stable and fast platform and allowed me to hang with a top pack in the first half of the race and provided ample stability and speed in the second half.

Gareth Tudor-Jones was Canada’s top finish with a 22nd place finish and, as always, it was a pleasure to be on the water with such a powerhouse. South African powerhouse Michelle Eray slid into the top 30 and was top female with a strong 29th place finish. Bellingham’s own Lycra model Morris Arthur rebounded from a slower than normal first half with a strong finish, 31st place. Kenny Howell showed some local knowledge in the course, placing 33rd and commented over a beer at the finish how he wished the waves were more like in the Columbia Gorge. DeAnne Hemmens, 2010 US Champs Womens Winner,  was nothing but smiles as she comfortably glided across the finish line in her new Fenn Swordfish, taking 2nd place for the women’s long course.  Deep Cove Outdoor’s Bob Putnam has a great race with a 39th place finish

Also of note: Bellingham’s own legendary Mike Gregory had solid race and was able to recover from a remount practice opportunity off Angel Island (no, he did not win the raffle this time) First time US Champs racer and Bellingham local, Roger Lam had the biggest smile at the finish but we weren’t sure if it was from the race itself or the fact that he was back on land.

Short Course racers heading towards Angel Island

Short Course Highlights

The new US Champs Short Course offered the most enticing course of the weekend with an immediate left turn out of Fort Baker with downwind all the way to the Berkeley Marina. Racers found the mixed conditions challenging with a wide range of ability level on the water. Local downwind specialist Craig Tanner opted for the short course and finished a strong 2nd behind Tony Hansen. Kim Cantrell of Bellingham, fresh off a week long Gorge trip, finessed the waves and had fun out on the water claiming a 7th place finish. Larry Bussinger won the Golden Masters division and battled across the finish line in 13th.  The story of the day was Bellingham’s own Gwyn Howatt, surfing her way to a commanding 1st place finish in the women’s division and 16th place overall, beating out her dad by two spots. Bellingham legend Duncan Howatt was green with a  flu at the start but still managed to link waves on the race course and finish 18th, heading straight to the Team Howatt van afterwards to nurse his illness. Look for Duncan to be putting the new Fenn Swordfish through it’s paces, as he heads back to Bellingham with a brand new carbon Swordfish. Bellingham’s “Paddler of the Year” Debbie Arthur stepped up her game this year, taking on the new short course and its mixed conditions, feeling a little queasy at the finish but still smiling. Dan Wakeland, also fresh from the Gorge, ate up the San Francisco with a smile from start to finish.

DJ & Austin at the finish

Doubles Course Highlights

The field was smaller than normal this year for the Sunday doubles race but stacked deep with competition between some of the top international paddlers. Conditions were choppy and flat, with a strong current under the bridge and little to no surfing from the Golden Gate to Berkeley Marina. Despite the flat conditions, times were fast due to a strong flood tide. Dawid Mocke and Sean Rice claimed 1st place with a time of 1:07:01. Breathing down their necks where Barry Lewin and Dave Jensen coming in just 5 seconds behind at 1:07:06. Roughly one minute later, Don Kiesling and Robert Barry claimed 3rd place with a time of 1:08:12. There were 3 mixed teams this year, all married couples, including Patrick and Deanne Hemmes (1st- 1:11:18), Morris and Debbie Arthur (2nd- 1:15:09), and DJ and Kristen Jacobson (3rd 1:16:55). For having not done much of any doubles paddling together this summer, Kristen and I were happy to be out paddling and took in the fun.

Overall, a great two days of racing and big thanks to the race directors and all the volunteers who make this amazing even possible. Can’t wait to next year.

Posted on August 14, 2011, in Surfski Racing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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