The 2011 Battle of the Paddle has come and gone with all of the hype and excitement of a major holiday. The evolution of the event has become a true litmus test demonstrating the growth of Stand Up Paddling as a sport and an industry. Team Hobie was its biggest ever with team paddlers from France, Italy, and Australia joining their US counter parts.
This year’s Battle once again pushed the evolutionary boundaries with the introduction of qualifying heats for the Elite race. Each qualifying race contributed 50% to the main event, and it meant racers had to work a strategy that would advance them into the main event but still leave enough gas in the tank for the final . The Hobie team moved all but one of its Elite racers into the main event.
The main event held up to everything that it had in the past with blow ups, bust ups, and surprises. Team Hobie’s Brand Baksic finished 2nd in a heavily contested women’s race. Hobie’s Jay Wild and Colin McPhillips finished in the top 20 on the men’s side.
Day two started off a bit more reserved than the first day as paddlers carefully worked out the aches, pains and kinks from the day before. The distance race saw a huge field of 224 paddlers making the 10 mile grind, many of the same SUP Elite work horses returned, this time some had opted for longer unlimited or 14' boards and others kept the 12'6 grind alive. Brandi Baksic kept her podium run going placing 3rd with Mitch Kahn (14’) and Byron Kurt (12’6) both finishing in the top 10 of their board classes.
The biggest surprise of day two by far was the kid’s race. If there was ever a question as to the future of the sport of stand up paddling the kid’s race made it known. With over 50 kids participating in either the short or long course events, it was amazing to note that this year saw many kids racing scaled down race boards, and the competition was fast and furious.
As with Battle’s past, the Grand Finale was the Team Relay with 43 teams racing for the team title. Hobie was represented by 4 teams (3 men and 1 female). Hobie Team 1 (Jay Wild, Byron Kurt, Colin McPhillips, and Brandi Baksic) took 3rd with a super tight finish between Team Hobie and Team Naish. Hobie Team 2 (Mitch Kahn, Rob Pelkey, Justin Holland and Alison Riddle) finished 8th proving once again Hobie’s depth putting 2 teams in the top 10.
With participation pushing into the thousands one has to wonder what will happen in 2012? Is two days enough?
The Hobie camp was jumping all weekend
Colin McPhillips and Greg Closier coming into the danger zone
Australian team rider Justin Holland
Open race start
Brandi Baksic - 2nd place Elite Female
The Battle Team!!!
New Delivery Truck