• Rachel Cantore

Brutal Race Conditions still yields 3rd Consecutive 1st Place Win

Well I did it! A Third consecutive First Place SUP win.


This weekend🥇in the Harbor Island 5k SUP race at the @supcarolinacup in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

It was a grueling one to say the least. I’d say the hardest race to date for me, one of the hardest paddles I’ve done ever.


Why? Winds of 24+ mph, wind gusts of 35+ mph, and temps just about 50. Sure I’ve paddled in high winds, and often challenge myself when I train at home by doing against the winds and tides, and navigating boat traffic and wakes, but this was a whole new level of hard af!


Getting through this race was a HUGE feat for me. I had hoped to place this weekend, but going into it I was a bit nervous looking at the weather and knowing I was not in my top game physically this past week.

Nonetheless, I made it through!

Recollection and highlights of My First Carolina Cup SUP Race, the Harbor Island 5k

I can highlight this weekend's race starting with Northern winds of 24+ mph and wind gusts of 35+ mph. Sure I’ve paddled in high winds, and often challenge myself when I train at home by doing against the winds and tides, and navigating boat traffic and wakes, but this was a whole new level of hard af! Temps the morning prior were only in the 40s, fortunately this morning we started just above 50 but those winds didn’t help much.


From the time I got on the water and paddled out to the race course starting point my board wanted to turn in the opposite direction of the course route. In fighting that along with dodging other paddlers was interesting to say the least. In fact, by doing so - trying to keep myself in the right direction and not hit another paddler then a wake and wind gust sent me flipping right off into the water, flipping my board upside down and soaking my beanie - BEFORE the actual race began! The shock of the water and wind hitting me upon climbing back out was serious. Only moments after returning atop my board and not even having my bearings straight the gun went off and it was Go time. I recall saying aloud to myself “I can’t do this, swearing, then picking up my paddle and initiating my race.


What I recollect over that 3.5 mile loop was a whole slew of things and thoughts… Watching a good number of paddlers ahead of me push forward. Many of them falling off or dropping to their knees in order to remain balanced and not be blown off course into unsafe areas and docks. Approaching two bridges against the wind and tides, both of which due to high waters/tides/swell required us to crouch down to make it under, one of them many paddlers even had to LAY down prone and arm paddle to make it through.


On the other side were whitecaps and winds ready to knock us down.



Many of the paddlers around me, myself included eventually, had to remain kneeling just to make it through almost a mile of the course. I was breathing hard, grunting, and admittedly complaining, questioning to myself why I was doing this in these conditions and expressing I can’t do this.

But, as I kept going I noticed a few things. Many of the paddlers ahead of me started slowing down, dropping off, struggling. Looking around further to see my route ahead I didn’t see any rescue or directional boats around, so if I did stop and quit I’d have to do so at one of the random docks (no thanks 👋).


My shoulders were burning, my hands were almost numb, so were my legs as I last minute chose to wear my dry fit leggings rather than my neoprene wetsuit pants 🤦🏼‍♀️🥶. My feet from kneeling were cramping up, while my booties were water logged from my initial fall. But, I still kept paddling.

Approaching the back end of the loop, felt like heaven, the calm before and after the storm. I managed to stand back up and resume paddling. I saw a few racers well ahead of me and used them as my navigation guide. Around me were 3-4 other paddlers, I believe 1-2 of them were other women. As I paddled, I told myself to just steady paddle, not to rush or race or push my speed as doing so with the wind gusts and chop would throw me off balance. A nice cruising pace was my focus just so I could finish and not hit a wall in the final stretch.


I rounded the last corner. I began looking for the finish line. It was still a good half to 3/4 mile away, but I was finally able to see it. We were still being protected from much of the winds due to the adjacent docks. There was one female just ahead to my left. As I continued my steady pace, I noticed she began slowing down quiet a bit and next thing I knew I had passed her up.


As I neared the finish, all of paddlers racing on the Graveyard (the APP tour pro race) were in the water getting ready and in my cross path of the route i needed to take. I had to navigate through them, various anchored sailboats, and the north winds that showed their ugly face in the channel's opening.


I heard some pro racers cheering myself and the guy ahead of me on. He had to drop back to his knees, I nearly fell off and went to my knees. As I paddled through I knew I had to stand back up to sprint to the end... I managed to do so and charged through the last bit, and as I approached the line I heard the announcer say that I was the first female to finish. I hopped off my board and walked through the finish line!


What's Next

This seriously gives me so much motivation and drive to continue SUP racing and take things to another level!I won’t lie, one of my goals is to do the Graveyard Race, a 13 mile long ocean and sound race, part of the Carolina Cup and @appworldtour.


I’m looking forward to training and entering longer distance races from here on out! I’ve been Stand up paddling for a handful of years now but this was only my fourth SUP race.


In fact, it was right here in Wrightsville Beach nearly 5 years ago (this April) that I got PaddleFit certified.


I had a vision then to take Fusion Fit to the water on stand up paddle boards. Less than 6 months after that certification I met Roddy Medders who took my coworkers and I out on a sunset paddle on his boards with his then business @stand_and_paddle (now owned by myself).


In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy seeing me on my then very VERY basic klunky rec board and stating “you don’t belong on that type of board, here try this one” (as he pushed over one of his @the_hammmer_sup boards), along with “have you ever raced? You should consider it.” I probably would have put off pursuing SUP any further.


The following summer, Roddy and I teamed up to start what I named @paddlefusedfitness , a SUP fitness workout I developed and ran in the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina using his boards and working in his SUP expertise.

Paddle Fused Fitness has come to be a HUGE hit in the Lowcountry during the summer season! A great workout for both non-paddlers/newbies and SUP enthusiasts alike (rec & racing wise). The PFF workout program will help you build a stronger core and improve stability and balance on land, as well as help SUP racers or those who simply enjoy paddling become better paddlers. All the while, you have loads of fun and excitement, take in the outdoors and nature, challenge your comfort zones and fears, and leave with a memorable experience. Many participants are regulars!

PFF will be a certification too (NASM & ACE accredited) beginning in 2022. Plus, we’ll continue in-season classes on the May River, and off-season land-based and indoor pool class alternatives.


Follow @stand_and_paddle @paddlefusedfitness @fusionfittraining

@paddleracer @rachelsfusion

#suprace #supracer #carolinacup2021 #goals

#paddlefusedfitness #noexcusesjustempowerment #fusionfitlifestyle #fitnfused

#paddlefit #supfitness #paddleboard #fusionfittraining #blufftonfitness #paddleboarding #supworkout #fitness #workout #getoutdoors #standuppaddleboarding

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