There’s another new SUP race about to have its big debut and this could be the funnest one yet. The Water Warrior Beach Festival is happening mid-September in Southern California and is set to bring some military flair and all around gnarliness to the world of Stand Up Paddle racing.
Organised by the crew at multisports.com (which is led by Roch Frey of RidingBumps.com fame) and in close collaboration with everyone’s favourite kid-trapped-in-an-adult’s-body, Chuck Patterson, the Water Warrior is set for September 14th, making it the perfect warm-up for Battle of the Paddle two weeks later.
The event will be hosted @ Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, just north of Oceanside, California. As the name suggests this place is off limits to the public except for a couple of select events each year, including one day next month when a hundred odd stand up paddlers will descend on the Base’s main beach and harbour.
So what’s it all about?
The basic aim of the Water Warrior is to inject some fun and freshness into the standard SUP racing format. We’ll still see the usual Elite, Open and Kids’ races, but with some very unique additions thrown in.
The most obvious of these will be the obstacles: instead of simply just paddling, competitors will also be crawling through the sand, navigating trenches, scaling cargo net walls and, best of all, conquering big inflatable water slides.
That’s right. Water slides. In the middle of a SUP race. How awesome is that?!
These slides won’t be in the shallows either, they’ll be right out in the middle of the course on floating pontoons. So basically at one point paddlers will have to ditch their boards, climb up out of the water to the top of a giant inflatable structure, and then slide back down into the water again before paddling on to complete the rest of the course.
It’s not just the courses that are fun either, even the race names are epic. While the whole event will be known as the Water Warrior Beach Festival, the main attraction, the Elite Race, will be called the Amphibious Assault SUP Race. This one will see the top paddlers (and seeing it’s two weeks out from the BoP and in Southern California, there should be plenty of those) battling it out on a course that involves not only both surf and flat water paddling, but also a tonne of obstacles on and off the beach, all with a military-style theme.
Definitely not your average SUP race.
The whole venue is perfectly built for this event as well. Located at the Southern end of the base, the Water Warrior will be able to utilise calm flat water on one side of a break wall and plenty of surf on the other. That means not only lots of options for the race courses, but also a kickass spot for spectators to watch it all go down.
Now if all this doesn’t get you stoked to come down and check out the race I dunno what will …except maybe the fact that MARSOC – the Special Ops Command unit – will be on hand, challenging you to complete the obstacle courses and physical tests they put their actual recruits through, as well as showing off their over the top amphibious assault vehicles. Kinda gnarly.
Water Warrior organisers are hoping for a turnout in the 100’s but given the late notice (final approval to use the Base was only secured in recent weeks) are more focused on just getting the race up and running for now, before hopefully turning it into a big two-day event next year. Though while this is the inaugural Water Warrior, the event has its legacy in the famous Camp Pendleton mud run, which attracts 30,000 people to the Base each year and has a similar organising team behind it (hint: these guys know how to organise an event).
And if you’re wondering where the whacky obstacle courses come from and what they’ve got to do with SUP racing, that should be fairly clear. Apart from the fact we’re going to be on a military base, where this stuff is stock standard, one of the main guys helping out with the Water Warrior Beach Festival, Chuck Patterson, has a solid track record with these kind of shenanigans.
Last year we saw the Chuck Patterson Relay race at Watermans Paddle For Humanity, a race that was equal parts fun and brutality, and by all reports we can expect an even tougher set of challenges at Water Warrior 2013. The course might also change up the results and keep the racing more interesting, as the super-fit but not necessarily super-fast paddlers will suddenly have a chance to shine, seeing the race won’t only be about the paddling.
So there you go. Water Warrior. Start training your rope climbs and soft sand runs – the fun happens on September 14th.
2013 Water Warrior Beach Festival
WHAT: Water Warrior Beach Festival
WHERE: Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base (near Oceanside, California)
WHEN: All day long (starting around 8am) on Saturday 14th September
WHO: Organised by the Multisports.com/RidingBumps.com team in conjunction with Chuck Patterson
The Races… All up there are six events on offer at the inaugural Water Warrior Beach Festival:
## Amphibious Assault SUP Race (Elite Race through the surf, on the flat and around obstacles)
## Amphibious Assault Open SUP Race (same as above, including obstacles, but without the surf part of the course)
## 5k and 10k Open Age Races (5k is all on the flat, 10k is on the flat and in the ocean) for SUP, prone, surf ski, outrigger, etc
## 3km beach run
## 1km swim
## SUP surf expression session
The Elite Race is on 12’6 boards, Open Race is on whatever you like. Depending on numbers there could be heats for the Elite Race starting at 8am,with a final in the afternoon (Battle of the Paddle style).
More details on the official site.
(heads up: prices are cheaper if you register now rather than on race day)