Have questions? Give us a call or come stop in the shop!
Race the Tide Recap

Race the Tide Recap

On Saturday May 18th we had hosted a unique paddle event, "Race the Tide." It was so much fun we will be hosting it again next year, dates to be announced shortly.

We had a few recaps written for the event, one is below. We also had one on The Atlantic Current and one on Paddle Monster. Brian Hall of Iris Outdoors also shared his photos from the event. 

One of our friends and regulars at all of our events, Mark Hewitt, shared his experience with us for this blog.

This past weekend I was privileged to participate in a paddle race using an entirely new format.
Picture a boat, with a relay team of 4 paddlers going 25 miles through the intracoastal
waterways of South Florida. Unlike most races we were encouraged to draft the boat. We had
4 checkpoints where they took our teams time along with giving us a playing card to be used
during the award ceremonies. We had a total of 19 teams and ton of fun.

The whole thing started off with a captain and paddlers meeting on Friday at the beautiful
Tidehouse Waterfront Restaurant in Stuart, Florida. We got our boat’s banner along with some
nifty towels, enjoyed some appetizers and got to hang with our fellow paddlers. Jeramie Vaine,
our race Organizer/Director/Cheerleader, then gave us the rules along with the most important
one “don’t be a d*ck”. Since the race was started from the same place at 8am the next
morning, it was helpful to get the lay of the land.

Saturday morning came and you saw boats pulling up to the dock and dropping paddler’s off. It
was controlled chaos, but everyone showed respect and understanding, and it all worked. On a
side related note, we in South Florida are blessed with a vibrant, caring and active Paddle
Community. People like Jeramie who selflessly give their time to organize events like this
help build a foundation upon which we can all thrive. Back to the start, did I mention the
costumes, yes Fruit of the Loom team I am talking about you.

I had some personal drama where my boat didn’t show until 5 mins before start time, but I
managed to get on the water 2 mins before the whistle. We had a healthy mixture of SUP, sit
down and prone teams and with only 19 on the line it wasn’t too crazy. The boats had to park a
mile from the start so we were all scrambling to locate our boat so we could get on their draft
and then the real race started.

So, I am a kind of new to boat drafting and that was one of the many reasons I decided to
participate in the race, but I know some of the other (faster) teams were practicing with their
boat captains prior to the race and for sure I wish we had done that. I cannot stress enough
how the relationship between the paddler, boat and boat captain is so important. One of the
interesting take away’s is that the boat itself makes such a huge difference. We were paddling
behind more of a flat’s fishing boat that had a pretty small wake while others were on boats that
just threw up a massive wake even in low speed zones. Let’s talk speed zones, on the 25 mile
course there was 8-9 miles of low speed zones so most boats kept closer together, but on the
high speed zones the boat captain’s talent along with the paddler’s skill allowed some paddlers
to hit speeds of 12mph (insane). It is a huge responsibility for the boat captain to both pay
attention to the boats around them, the course, the speed zone and keeping the correct speed
for the paddler. If a paddler loses the draft, the quicker the boat captain can react and adjust
the boat speed, the quicker the paddler is back surfing the draft and able to maintain a higher

In general, the checkpoints were around 5 miles apart from each other, so another tactical
decision was how to share the work. We initially thought that having one person do the entire
stretch between each checkpoint was the magic, but I can tell you that after I hit that first one in
around 4 mile I was pretty cooked. After that we switched a lot more often and gave everyone
time to both rest and to keep their strongest pace. Which brings me to another interesting tactical decision, do you all share one board or have multiple boards which you take in and out
of the boat every time a different person gets on the water. The rules had only one board on
the water at a time and until we figured out our system, we wasted a ton of time on transitions
between paddlers.

To keep the whole race moving at a brisk pace there were also time cut off’s at each checkpoint
which we met but it was constantly on our mind. The checkpoint’s were boats with BlueLine
and Race the Tide flags and we paddled up to them while our boat stayed off to the side.
Ultimately, we stopped after the last checkpoint at 19 miles after we did make the time cut, but
that didn’t prevent us from totally enjoying the entire experience. It was interesting zipping back
to the finish on the boat watching the other teams and how they chose to draft their boats and it
was both a combination of relief and jealousy to seem them still pounding out those last few

After getting back, we enjoyed a nice buffet at Guanabana’s Restaurant and had some fun
awards beyond the normal placement awards such as Tide Rider Show Pony (best costumes)
and Best Hand Poker Run (using the cards we got at the checkpoints). We all received our
medals, hang with our fellow paddlers and swap war stories. A good time was
had by all and we are all hoping this becomes a yearly event.


Leave a comment