Battle of the Bay 2017 : As told by F-One & Bluerush Team Rider John PM Hadley (known also as the Prius Man thus the PM).
More coverage from Sup Racer (drone footage, full replay of the awesome live coverage): http://www.supracer.com/
One of the best, and most underrated races, takes place every September along the San Francisco waterfront at Crissy Field. This year marked the magic number 7 which makes next year the great 8!
The fun started on Friday at the F-One headquarters in Sausalito where pre-registration took place. What it really is is a chance to psych out or get psyched out by the completion. It’s all in good fun with good beer (example: PBR) and the finest pizza this side of New York from the crew at Bar Bocce.
Team rider Josh Riccio was on hand explaining the new 14×23.5 he had helped design. The board is insane! It’s fast and stable especially if you’re below 180 lbs. I tip the scales a touch over. (Definition of touch – 35 pounds). Luckily, they had a 25.5″ wide version which looked insane as well. I decided to take it out for a spin. Maybe even use it in the race.
It’s important to combine good training and learning your board before a race. Twenty minutes on the board the night before is solid. I did a few buoy turns around large rusty metal poles figuring that was good safe training for both the board and me. Coming away unscathed I decided the board was perfect. The fact that otherwise I had no board, and nowhere to put a board, only played a small role in my decision process.
We got the board and the other shop boards loaded onto Josh’s van so he could get out and get some sleep. He’s been training since January and had this routine about sleeping and eating habits. Thinking about it now, that may be a reason he was first to finish the M2O (32 mile race) on a stock 14′. The next 14′ finisher was forty five minutes behind him.
So we’re getting out of the lot and I go to my car. Car? Or shall I say Prius? ‘Pwee-us’ if you prefer Nico’s pronunciation. ‘What is that? And where do you put your boards?’ he exclaimed! After deriding my manhood for a while, I thanked Josh for taking the board peeled out of the lot. Quietly.
The next morning both Bruce and Nico were heckling me about the vehicle. Ah whatever. The race is about to start. Josh and Belar Diaz are up first in the pro division which heads around the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge before heading around Alcatraz Island. Tough to get a better course than that. Josh ended fifth behind the likes of Connor Baxter, Michael Booth, Leo Nika, and Matt Nottage, solidifying his heavy hitter ranking. Belar, on the 14×25.5″ came in just behind the Tahoe wonder kid Trent Carter.
The men’s open was up next. All I could hear at the start, other than F-One whiz John Walsh chomping gum loudly, was Nico about the car. I posted up next to Phil Tressenrider and the horn sounded. The 14×25.5 hit the water and didn’t stop gliding smoothly until it hit the sand an hour and five minutes later, good for second place behind the ever solid Pete Gauvin.
The men’s open technical was up first, thankfully. At the horn, the board landed wobbly and everything to the first buoy was wobbly. Looking around, so was everybody else. After the first or second turn the wobble took me out and I was in for a swim. Luckily one of my skills is getting back up and going on a SUP, so I was up in record time and only lost a few strokes. Byron Kurt was holding a steady course just in front of me and an angry mob was chasing us down. Turn after turn, into the wind, with the wind, along the wind, and against the current we went. The board under foot was solid. If I could hold my stroke… I had a chance. Fate intervened in the form of cross traffic and Byron had to slow himself ever so slightly while I took a wide course. I corrected and went around the buoy and two more to claim the technical course.
Next up was the pro division. Josh was ready. He sized up the competition and rather than cracking kneecaps he’d show them what he’s got. The start was insane with the wild Italian Claudio Nika rampaging to the front. As laps went, leads changed constantly. Connor had taken a good lead and handily won, but there was some action with Leo and Josh each looking to pass the other to increase their overall standing. Leo got Josh in the end, but that was okay as Josh still ended in fifth with some pocket change to bring to PPG.
Clean up began and we put the boards away and loaded up the van talking about what worked well (stable and fast) and what didn’t (no one spoke).
Nico jumped in his vehicle about the same time I did. The final race was on. We lined up in the lot, the horn of the Prius blaring – weee-weee. Neither of us cared who was in the lot, we weren’t racing for pinks, this was for pride. Trent Carter jumped out of the Jay Wild van as we went screaming down the lot barely missing him, but passing Nico anyway, Trent be damned.
We hit the corner and the finest red convertible Ford Galaxy was in of us being driven by Captain Kangaroo, I think. I gunned it, though no one heard, and went to split the Galaxy and Niko but stopped short. The Galaxy was too nice to risk it and I didn’t want to have to give Niko my new car if I crumpled his.
‘Wow, that thing’s got a lot of pick up,’ he relented after a weekend of mockery. I agreed and told him I hadn’t even hit the power mode button…
Results: You can check out all the results on the PaddleGuru website: https://paddleguru.com/races/BattleoftheBayWatersportFestival2017
Notables from the Bluerush, F-One and Manera Team: