Stand-up paddle boarders complete tough two-day, 25-mile coastal journeyOlympic gold medalist from Canada among strong field of competitors
Lincolnville — More than 25 racers, including two Olympic champions, competed in the grueling two-day, 25-mile stand-up paddle board race from Rockport Harbor to Camden Harbor to Lincolnville Beach to Belfast Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-11.
The Lobster Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) Cup was hosted by Thorfinn Expeditions of Lincolnville. The racing group included athletes from all over the country and some who had never competed in a stand-up paddle board race.
See video below.
"The event both met and exceeded our expectations," said Thor Emory of Thorfinn Expeditions. "The Lobster Sup Cup is a tough race and this was only our first year. Thanks to an excellent group of competitors, volunteers, and sponsors we are very excited about the future. Our primary goals for 2013 were to introduce SUP racing to this area, have fun, and keep it safe/manageable. Looking ahead to 2014, we are already thinking big. The format will go to three days of racing, with each day featuring a different harbor. Penobscot Bay offers a world-class location for a multi-day race. I am confident that we can attract more athletes to travel here to compete, and as the sport grows, develop more local racers as well. The race organizers are going to take a few days off and then, as our tagline says, 'Get Crackin!' "
On Saturday, Olympic gold medalist Larry Cain of Toronto held a commanding lead after the first 12 miles of a two-day event as the paddlers came into Lincolnville Beach. He also won the second day of competition and the overall title.
Jessica Rando was the top female finisher. In fact, she finished third overall among men and women combined.
The two-day combined places and times included:
Men — 1, Cain, 4:09:25; 2, Rod McLain, 4:28:11; and 3, Luke O'Malley, 4:37:04.
Women — 1, Rando, 4:37; 2, Marta Downing, 4:49:27; and 3, Kim Reilly, 5:29:20.
Masters men — 1, Cain; and 2, McLain.
Top New England paddlers — McLain and Downing.
Teams — 1, Karin Leuthy and Mark Benjamin; and 2, Bob Arnot and Bob Blair.
Cain, who won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics for sprint canoeing, was the first to make it from Rockport to Lincolnville Beach across the waters of Penobscot Bay on Saturday.
"I thought it was a cool concept, two races back to back," Cain said on why he participated. "I had never been to Maine."
Asked if he had to pace himself for the long race, Cain said, "When I knew I was close (to the finish) I might've backed off a little."
This was the first year of what organizers hope will be an annual sporting event. Emory, who placed second on Saturday (the only day he competed), organized the event. With the first race still going, he was looking ahead to next year. He plans to form a nonprofit organization to support the race and use it to help raise money for worthy causes.
This year the race raised awareness of Operation Rebound, which helps disabled veterans. Emory hopes to train veterans and get them into next year's race.
McLain, another veteran of the 1984 summer Olympics, also competed in the event. The athletes were competing for a $1,000 prize.
"Stand-up paddle boarding is a grassroots race sport," said Blair of the paddleboard company Speedboard, who helped organized the event. He said it is the fastest growing water sport right now. "This sport is exploding."
The length of the race made it physically demanding. Those competing also noted that with calm seas Saturday, the contestants were forced to do a lot of the work by paddling. In some races they can surf waves more. Emory noted, however, the current was helping paddlers the entire trip.
The race took a little more than two hours to complete on the first day of competition.
Safety boats were on the water to help if the paddlers got into trouble, Blair said.
Blair said the keys to winning races such as those held over the weekend is training, technique and a fast board. Boards can range in price between $500 and $5,000, he said. Serious competitors will pay more for high-end boards.
The individual results included:
Day 1 (top 3 - 27 racers) - Rockport, through Camden, to Lincolnville Beach (12 miles)
Men — 1, Cain, 2:01:48; 2, Emory (1 day racer only), 2:07:30; and 3, O'Malley, 2:12:21.
Women — 1, Rando, 2:12:58; 2, Downing, 2:18:30; and 3, Reilly, 2:37:59.
Day 2 (top 3 - 21 racers): Lincolnville Beach to Belfast (12.7 miles)
Men — 1, Cain, 2:07:37; 2, McLain, 2:12:48; and 3, O'Malley, 2:24:43.
Women — 1, Rando, 2:24:02; 2, Downing, 2:30:57; and 3, Reilly, 2:51:03.