Posted on April 21, 2013 by
The Stand Barbara Downwinder is an annual stand up paddle board race event from UCSB campus point to downtown Santa Barbara put on by the crew at Blueline Santa Barbara. They are a super cool SUP shop in downtown SB and always worth a visit if your in the neighborhood. As a graduate of UCSB I figured what better excuse than to head back to my old stomping grounds and put the new 12’6 Isle race board to the test on a long distance race.
The race takes place in the middle of the day at 3pm to catch the wind. The idea is to ride the swells formed by the highs winds at your back all the way to the finish. Sounds like fun huh? Only one minor problem. This year we had a glassy start then onshore winds blowing against us the entire 9 miles. Couple that with cross chops of multiple swell angles and hot weather and you have a recipe for one grueling race.
The race had a small turnout due to many other events going on that weekend so in total we had about 25 competitors. Not a big turnout by any means but a great time nonetheless. Once the horn blew the top finisher in the 12’6 class was off and never slowed down, he was not to be caught. So it was a battle for 2nd between me and another guy and I basically went head to head with him the entire race. He would pass me and I would pass him back and forth over 9 miles till he finally pulled away in the last leg. And just as he pulled away a female paddler powered up from the rear and overtook both of us in the last mile. Amazing effort by her.
By the time we rounded the final buoy to make our final approach into the Santa Barbara Harbor I turned on the afterburner and now going with the swell heading towards shore the shape of the new race board and nose rocker began to grab the swell and I quickly passed my nemesis in the final minutes of the race and almost caught up to the female paddler to finish at 2:07:25 for second place in the 12’6 male division and third overall in 12’6 as the female paddler clocked in at 2:06:40. The first place finisher came in at 2:03:30 and he powered the entire race, hats off to him!! Eric Williams was his name and the female paddler was Coco Antoinette.
When I came in for the last leg I was literally exhausted, couldn’t feel my feet, my legs were cramping, sun burnt, grunting , groaning and wanted to give up. It showed me long distance upwind racing in open ocean is serious business but when it was all said and done it was a great feeling to finally cross the finish line. The days following the race you feel really really good and getting back on the regular paddle board to surf its like you feel a little stronger than before. Racing for sure steps up your surf game.
The Blueline crew organized some tasty food and ice cold Land Shark beers for the finishers along with some cool caps and tees for the race. A cold beer never tasted so damn good!
In the days following the race we managed to score some cool paddles in the SB harbor, great surf at campus point and also a beach called sands beach behind the UCSB campus. It was pretty classic as Sands beach is typically a really terrible wave and we couldn’t believe our eyes when we walked around the corner to find peaky offshore overhead surf with even a few barrels. It was literally the some of the best Sands I had ever seen and I lived at USCB for 5 years. The beach also had a bunch of topless females and come to find out they were all exchange students from France. I kept asking myself is this UCSB or the French Riviera?
Santa Barbara truly is an amazing place and has it all! Great people, great waves, great places to paddle and great nightlife. Any excuse to go back and I am taking it! Hopefully next year we get the WIND at our backs!!!!!
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