It’s 100 degrees, there’s no wind, and Lake Atlantic is like a sheet of glass.

This weekend represented the second summer weekend in what Southeast Florida has come to know as the RK Sunshine SUP Series races. Florida holds many races, every weekend it seems there are paddle events if you want to drive two hours in any direction. To many, this past weekends event holds a special place in the hearts of Floridians. Many say it’s because of the longevity of the event, others because of the hosts. Regardless, the Sunshine SUP Series is a legendary event in the minds of many.

Held in Pompano Beach, a beachfront town just north of Fort Lauderdale having a population of about 100,000 as of the last Census, this event is in its 10th year and is run by Roray Kam and Victoria Burgess. Held in June and August it brings mostly locals to the shorelines of Pompano Beach for some of the best community, fun and amazing race activity to be found! Further, the race is run right on the beach in the unpredictable waters of the Atlantic which can sometimes bring crazy gnarly conditions and other times super calm glass like waters.

This past weekend delivered the latter, the majority of the short and long course races were met with super flat conditions, 100 degree heat and blazing tropical sun.

Will Silliman shows off his trophy on his Flying Fish!

Sponsored by 425Pro, this race drew SUP and recreational boards of all sizes and racers of all calibers as well as outriggers in both one and two-person configurations. Additionally, one of the unique hallmarks of this race is the beach run for SUP between each lap, adding to the fun, challenge, and for sure the mayhem. To top it off, amazing hand carved awards were created by local craftsman Mike Turney.

The event includes a short course – three laps around a five buoy course with two beach runs and a long course with five laps and four beach runs around the same course. The OC’s requested a sixth lap be added to the course because that’s the way they roll.  Additionally there are kids races, tandem races and much more. Everyone, regardless of podium or not, had a really amazing time. Sun, fun, friends and paddling, there’s nothing better, and were else can you go to a race, get a t-shirt, free all you can eat food, all you can drink beer, rum, water and get a really cool original trophy??! 

Results from yesterday’s race are posted here!

Considered by locals to be a must attend local race and a highlight of each racing season.  Many commented yesterday about the the industry, and this events continued declining numbers. The race had a total of 63 participants, down from the high in 2012 of about 150.

As an event designed for the whole family, it’s disheartening to see the industry’s continued decline. Every race, from The Carolina Cup to local races are witnessing a continued decline. Many say it’s a cycle, we believe, like many, that is part of an overall decline.

How Do We Keep These Events Going?

Events like The Sunshine SUP Series, with the industry decline, are run as a passion of love. Roray and Victoria are in this for the love of the sport:

“…over the past 10 years it’s been going down. The whole industry is going down. But it can all be restarted again….we’ve been just getting by because we love the sport and don’t want to see the racing scene completely die out here in south Florida. We try to get as much feedback from the racers to make our races better. Our races take a lot of time obtaining sponsors, coordinating, planning, and that next to our full time jobs and other events we are associated with makes for long days and nights. But it’s all for the love of our friends and community! — Roray Kam 2019”

Awesome events must continue, and it’s not enough that the usual suspects show up at races. Every little bit helps, so how do we grow the sport and keep these events happening, perhaps consider these points:

  • Consider attending a remote, smaller event.  Like the Infinity #speedfreaks that attended this weekend’s TaHoeNalu Paddle Festival in Lake Tahoe (if you’re on Facebook, you must have seen the pictures),
  • Plan your vacation to include a SUP race. It’s great to share in new SUP families. You will always be welcome, regardless of what part of the world you’re traveling,
  • Get your friends to join you at a race event…if even only to watch. It’s addicting,
  • Get your kids involved, kids are the future of this sport. The more teenagers, the better,
  • This is not about SUP directly, invite all paddlers – Surfski, OC, all classes…make it easier, not harder to grow your Ohana.
The team at the Mullet is talking everyday with industry race coordinators, manufacturers, chill paddlers and racers of all calibers about the amazing family we’ve got and its decline.  If you want to participate in or contribute to the conversation, reach out to John or I directly or to our generic address at [email protected].
 
 To learn more about Roray and Victoria, from their support of the community to their accomplishments, start by checking them out here:

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great event and I have watched from the beginning. My brother and his wife have also been involved and have raced from the start. (Jeff and Naomi Berry) I wonder if all the press about the shark population and the red tide and the over abundance of the seaweed on the beaches have stopped the people that might try it for the first time. Racers that push through these fears are a more rare breed than the ones that want to but may not be educated and used to all of this. Perhaps if they -the ones with the experience- would have workshops about the sport, it may have a resurgence.

  2. Hi Lisa! That’s awesome! I know Jeff and Naomi …we paddle with them whenever they get out :)…you may have noticed I snuck a picture of Jeff doing the long race in the pics above!

    That’s a great thought…I absolutely think it’s a level of uncertainty of apprehension or anxiety. We’ve noticed this issue regardless of where the race is held, but it’s a great point that the ocean, for a number of reasons, perhaps adds to that. The idea that racers are some form of badass that regular paddlers can’t approach is definitely a concern. I know before I started I had similar anxiety. We’ve tried to run some local “So you’ve wondered about SUP racing clinics” in Fort Lauderdale and although we had lots of upfront interest, we had little attendance. We’re setting up some new ones for the September timeframe, and we’re trying again…both an adult and a teenager version…we’ll see what type of interest we get. Thanks for the note! Awesome to meet Jeff’s Sister!! 🙂

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