While many regard #PPG2016 as standup paddleboarding’s biggest race of the year, it’s not a SUP-exclusive event. Joining their standup brethren at Doheny State Beach will be an elite field of prone paddlers competing in both distance and technical races. To get a glimpse into what prone paddlers can expect, we sat down with Jack Bark–champion prone racer and son of legendary paddler/shaper Joe Bark–to discuss paddling’s big weekend and how he handles winning (and losing) against stiff competition.
If you want to join Jack on the start line at PPG, time is almost up to register. Pro registration ends TOMORROW (Friday, Sept. 16th) and there will be no beach registration. Get after it and we’ll see you at the start line!
SUP: Who are some favorites to win this year in the Prone category?
JB: This year there is a strong international field coming over. There's always guys who are really good in the surf that will do well, but you never know, there may be some guy who's been doing some secret training and stuff. That's the funny thing about surf racing—it’s never just one guy, there's a lot of guys who can take it. With some surf, some chop and some cool new courses here, it'll be all over the place.
SUP: What's your strength, distance or technical racing? Why?
JB: I'd say my strength is more distance because I do a lot of paddling. I'd say I'm good at shorter stuff too, but in comparison to some guys, they are better short sprint guys. This course is like a short sprint course but is long enough where it’s not just a two-minute-sprint–it's like an endurance sprint. So I think it’s going to be a perfect mix where no one is really too favored. It has something for the sprinters, distance guys and paddlers who like the surf.
SUP: What challenges does the venue at Doheny present prone racers?
JB: It picks up a lot of swell so hopefully we will get some big surf to make it exciting. You might have to pop over 10 or 15 waves in a set and while the waves aren't super powerful, they will slow you down if there's a lot of them. Also, this is one of the few races where we can race 12-foot boards in the surf. That in itself is one of the biggest challenges because if you haven’t practiced, its a very challenging craft to ride on a head high wave.
SUP: You come from a family that has a big history in prone paddling. What does it mean to have prone in the spotlight at an event like #PPG2016?
JB: It's nice to see us getting involved in some of these bigger races. Prone paddleboarding has been around for a lot longer but it seems like a lot of races these days are only for standup. So it's cool to see a race welcome (prone) paddleboarding in. I think it’s a really exciting event for people to watch and for people who wanna race in the surf, it’s one of the few races we can actually do.
JB: I grew up paddleboard racing and for quite a few years, I was the only person my age doing it. Now I’m finally able to meet all these cool people and a lot of my best friends are people I travel with for racing. I've had a lot of close races with friends and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but we're all racing for fun. It's something that we all love doing but it’s a hobby for us. Of course we all want to win, but I think it’s because most of us are really good friends and we each get mad bragging rights on each other.
Don’t miss out! Register now for #PPG2016.
Like father like son, the story behind the Bark family legacy.