The first BIC SUP One Design Challenge (BSODC) US National Championships took place in Charleston, SC on Sunday, September 15th, culminating the race season in the USA after a very successful year with over 300 one-design events nationwide!
Music, food and fun in the sun was the order of the day. The weather was perfect and conditions ideal at James Island County Park, the same location where host Charleston County Parks and Recreation (CCPRC) have been holding One Design events all summer long. In addition to the terrific support from CCPRC, the American Canoe Association (ACA) was also on hand for the event. The ACA will be hosting a Collegiate One Design Series in 2014 and they've been assisting with One Design events this year to prepare for this exciting new collegiate series.
One of the unique aspects of the BSODC is that participants all race on the exact same board, and race together in heats around a short course with multiple buoy turns. Top finishers advance to the next round until the finals are reached. The technical nature of the course creates an SUP skills challenge unlike any other. The "sprint" aspect of each heat, versus long distance endurance style races, means all skill levels can participate and that top finishers are assured to be challenged as they advance through multiple sprint heats. The board used in the race is the BIC SUP WING 12'6, 2013 Outside Magazine's Gear of the Year Award Winner.
Many top racers from around the region were in town for the Chucktown Showdown distance race and joined us for a chance to become a National Champion! They were also motivated by the division winner prize, which includes two nights lodging in Puerto Rico for the BIC SUP One Design World Championships, set for December 5-6th in conjunction with the Paddle Royal SUP race in San Juan on the 7th and 8th. In the men's division, Chucktown Showdown 14' long-distance race winner Kevin Rhodes, runner up Chris Johnson and fourth place finisher Jeremy Whitted were all contending for the men's title together with a strong field of paddlers. In the women's division a solid field of top regional racers were vying for women's US National Champion title. The youth division had a wide range of ages, from 9 to 14, including Jack and Dylan Alderman, who together with their mom Jenny, claimed title to the largest family turnout of the event.
During preliminary rounds, competitors jockeyed for position to make sure they made it into one of the advancing spots. For those who didn't advance, a second-chance round was in store, which was great because competitors got a second chance to race, but also spent precious energy racing in an extra heat.
With the tight and technical nature of the course (a total of five buoy turns in preliminary rounds and seven during semi-finals and finals), many lead changes took place due to multiple opportunities to pass at each buoy. Taking an inside line was key for each buoy turn, but you had to plan ahead in the "S-Curves" section of the course to make sure you had the hole shot on the final buoy of this unique part of the course. Those with the best skill set for moving to the tail of the board and quickly pivoting around the buoys were rewarded with faster lines through the turns, while those with raw power and crisp forward stroke technique were able to excel in the short sprint sections between buoys.
After 15 preliminary, second-chance and semi-final heats, the final draw was set. In the junior division, pint-sized Jack Alderman showcased his exceptional paddle technique to end up in fourth place. Watch out next year, as Jack will definitely be in contention (and probably over a foot taller!). Jake McQuord took home the bronze, while Alex Hutton and Brandon Foster battled it out neck and neck for the Championship title. In the end, Brandon was able to hold off a charging Alex to claim the title of first-ever Junior National Champion of BIC SUP One Design.
In the women's class a packed heat of seven were in the finals. At the first buoy turn the field was still bunched up. But, after the turn several paddlers veered off-course towards the wrong buoy, giving an opening to Massachusetts paddler Kim Reilly who promptly took the lead. Kim held off the rest of the field to take the title, followed by Jenny Alderman in second place and Sammie Arnold in third.
The men's final heat of six racers was a true battle. No surprise that three of the region's best racers took the top three spots after a grueling all-out sprint. No one held back as the finalists pushed each other turn after turn and sprint after sprint. Chris Johnson was able to put enough distance between himself and the rest of the field midway through the course, allowing him to avoid contact at the buoy turns. The hole shot is key in these races, and together with Chris' powerful forward stroke in the sprint sections, he held off Kevin Rhodes to take the men's title, followed closely by Jeremy Whitted in third place.
Immediately following the race, awards were presented and the winner of the competitors raffle for a BIC SUP carbon paddle and WING SUP were announced. Sammie Arnold walked away with the paddle, while Justin Schaay took home the board.
Congratulations to all of our competitors and see you in Puerto Rico at the World Championships in December!
Men's: Chris Johnson
Women's: Kim Reilly
Youth: Brandon Foster