Conditions could not have been better for the Narrow River ESA SUP Race Series No. 2, held this past Sunday at Narrow River.
Racers from as far away as Utah competed, as well as some very fast Bay Staters, who travelled to challenge the local competitors.
Race Director Jason Considine of Narrow River Kayak plotted out an entirely new course for this 4.5-mile race, which directed competitors north up the river, into a small inlet, and then back out again.
This section of the race proved the most challenging of the entire course, as paddlers could only fit one board at a time through the narrow channel.
This made for some intense jockeying for position, as the leaders tried to gain distance through the section.
At one point, one of the top contenders hit a mysterious underground rock that tossed him over the front of his board and into the marsh. He quickly regained control and continued out of the narrow opening of the inlet.
With no wind and relatively cool temperatures for this morning race, times were much faster than the first round in July.
The most exciting action came in the Men’s Open Division (25 years and under). Narrow River Kayak racer Brian Ross of East Greenwich took the early lead, and was still in front at the final turn heading south to the finish line.
Sam English of Wayland, Mass. had been drafting him for over the course of the race at that point. English put on the speed and passed Ross with 1.5 miles to go, and never looked back. He finished first overall with a speedy time of 44:13. Ross came in second with a time of 46:22, and Andrew Preece of Orem, Utah cruised in at 49:46 for third place.
Warwick speedster Mark Preece not only won the Senior Men’s Open Division (55 years and over), he almost won it all, as he was rapidly closing in on English at the finish line. Preece finished only six seconds behind the leader, in 44:28. Barrington’s veteran racer Peter Colella was second in 45:07.
The toughest division with the most paddlers was the Women’s Open category (26-54 years). It was a three-person race from the start, as Providence racer Martha Colella took the lead after one mile.
Westerly’s Erica Sposato stayed only a few feet behind the leader to stay within striking distance though.
Colella put on the jets and pulled ahead for good with two miles to go, winning easily in 51:54. Sposato continued her pace, taking second in 57:10. East Greenwich’s Kerrie Hedde started out slow, but picked up the pace and finished third in 58:32. North Kingtown racer Kristin Kaezmarek took fourth in 59:56, just back from a severe surfing injury. Warwick’s Sarah Preece finished fifth in 62:06 and Beth Considine of Wakefield was sixth in 66:37. West Kingston’s Lyn Corpus was seventh in 73:28.
Geoff McGurk of Shrewbury, Massachusetts won the Masters Open (26-54 age group) in 46:30 with West Kingston’s Paul Corpus finishing second in 50:16. Heidi Colella took the Senior Women’s title (55 years old and over) in 56:54.
The next ESA event is the New England Summer Surfing Championships Round No. 2 at 2nd Beach in Middletown this Saturday.
Sign-ups are on the beach from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The final round of the Narrow River Race Series is scheduled to take place on September 8th.
Peter Pan is a freelance columnist for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.