Malibu Downwinder 2014 was an absolute blast. Perhaps it was because it was my first PB race for the season or glad to be back on Herbie since the shoulder injury, but it was a great day. 10-12 knot winds, a sizable number of fast prone and SUP paddlers, and a killer after-party made this a great race.
My performance was a respectable 1:39 for just under 8 miles, but it was the battle with four other Stock and 14′ prone guys that really had me smiling. For miles we surfed down bumps past one another, hooting encouragement when someone picked up a runner or came off their board, and laughed at dumb jokes when someone found a little energy to be a comedian.
The finish came down to a final gamble in the last mile — go outside and avoid the kelp or go inside and hope that you could pick your way around the speed- and energy-sapping beds of sea lettuce. Neck and neck with the other misery sticks, I decided to follow a few SUPs inside, figuring that they had better visibility on the best line. The choice paid off. I was able to hold off the lone prone that followed me in and the other two guys just got netted and lost multiple minutes into the finish. All-in-all, the shoulder held up pretty well, which was also a great feeling.
The racers enjoyed the rest of the afternoon eating good BBQ, enjoying a few beers, and picking up a few wins on the raffle (I won new set of shades and a nice shirt). Thanks again to Gary Fortune for a great event, as well as all of the volunteers, sponsors, and participants who made it happen. Definitely coming back next year!