An Open Letter to the Carolina Cup Graveyard SUP Race
A year ago I attempted to challenge you. Unfortunately, your surf, open ocean rolling waves and inlets wore me out and broke me down to a humbling decision to drop out. You were cruel to me and provided me with no mercy, so I vowed that day to train harder to come back and beat you. My strategy included intense training such as CrossFit, yoga, surf camps, daily paddling and as many races as I could paddle in. That training put my whole focus on coming back and showing you who is boss. I took on each race after that with vengeance, I continued to train in the cold fall days and blistering snowy winter days to show you that a girl could take a beating but never give up.
I will have you know that I took on an 8-mile open ocean race prior to seeing you again this spring in order to prepare myself for whatever tricks you may have up your sleeve. Arriving in Wrightsville Beach a week early was my final plan to my training. I attacked your surf on my first day and I studied your inlets with the guidance of a local and fellow water woman, April Zilg. Finally, I brought in my mentor, my coach and my best friend, Evelyn O’Doherty. Her guidance, strength and support was the final nail in the coffin of finishing you.
Race day arrived and that morning I was prepared to meet you in battle again. I arrived to your sandy shore early and spent some time to greet you and understand your mood that morning. You appeared to want to challenge me again with your surf and some gusty winds but I was not going to let you get in my head. I studied the surf, watched your currents and anticipated what was ahead of me. We lined up along your shore line and then it was go time. I forgot to tell you, I was not alone that day. I had support, I had my own team in the form of two coaches. Along with Evelyn, I also had my husband and they were both determined to see me finish you.
As the horn sounded, I was not afraid of you or the surf you threw at me. I attacked that surf with a vengeance and took each wave that you threw at me and successfully made it to the first buoy on my first try. Whatever was to come next, I knew I had already beaten you because I overcame my fear being taken out by your surf break. I wanted to celebrate my first victory but then you showed me that you were not done yet and that you were not going to give in too easy. You were nice to provide a down winder but you showed no mercy with the swells that came with it. Each swell was a reminder that you wanted to take me down but I fought back and would not give in. I paddled outside of your shoreline, watched your swell and told you I was not giving up. Consider this my second victory!
I approached your inlet to the Intercostal Waterway without fear but excitement as I was already equipped to take on your sneaky back and side waves. Thank you for the enjoyment through Mason’s Inlet, you may have thought I was blindsided with your side waves but I already knew to expect them. I enjoyed your surf and will call that victory #3. Oh, but you did not give up, you wanted to see me fail so you thought you would throw in 15- 20 knot headwinds for 7 miles up the Intercostal Waterway. I hate to break it to you but I live on Cape Cod where it is very windy all of the time. I spend a lot of my training paddles fighting wind. Similar to what you threw at me. I will not go without saying you did not make it easy for me but I had made it much further then you had expected and that wind was not going to stop me. I fought your wind for the 7 miles up the Intercostal and was motivated even more as I had something else you didn’t expect, my own cheering group that encouraged me to work harder. The last inlet back out to the Atlantic was ahead so I now I had victory #4 under my belt.
Graveyard, you must have not anticipated me making it as far as I did. I took you by surprise this year which must have made you angry enough to stir up 20-25 mph winds. I took on those winds but then you felt the need to add gusts and a strong current from the incoming tide hoping to finish me and not let me finish you. I was not going to give in and I made it to the end of your inlet, you’re just lucky that the Coast Guard stepped in citing bad conditions and safety concerns. I didn’t give up and did not want to be taken off your course but I was not given a choice, that choice was made for me. My body was sore, my heart was broken but my spirit to take you on again was not taken away. You threw everything you had at me and I don’t hate you for that, I appreciate you for challenging me. You have made me stronger each year, you have shown your strengths and you have shown me your weaknesses. I have learned from you and I know what I need to do to come back and take you on again. I hope you have learned that I don’t back down, I just get stronger. My words of advice to you: bring it on because I will be ready for you.
I will see you in 2018, bring your ‘A’ game!
Special Thanks to Juliet Gismond and Evelyn O'Doherty for the pics.....and my biggest fan/husband Brett.