Jason Bennett of Deep Cove and Lina Augaitis of Vernon dominated the Canadian Stand Up Paddleboarding Race Championships on July 16, which was decided based on the cumulative time from a 4-km sprint race and a 12-km distance race.
Saturday’s short course took place at South Chestermans and Sunday’s distance race started/finished at Mackenzie Beach, with racers lapping a course along the shores of North Chesterman and Middle Beach.
Only a couple weeks prior to journeying to Tofino for the Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) race event, national title winners Bennett and Augaitis completed the Yukon River Quest. The Quest is considered the longest paddling race in the world at 715-km.
“I’m still recovering from the Yukon River Quest,” said Bennett. “I did it in 55 hours. It just crushed me completely. It was amazing, really fun.”
Augaitis, who is well-known in the international SUP community as one of the fastest females on the planet, said she was experiencing strange repercussions.
“There is something going on. I didn’t really sweat, which normally I do. My body is definitely going through some changes. It’s hard to know if it’s the Yukon thing or the baby thing or a combination of both,” said the new mom who gave birth by cesarean section on New Year’s Eve of 2015.
In the men’s category, the second day distance race proved to be the victory clincher for Bennett, even though he said he made a couple navigational errors that put him off course.
“I had to make up probably a good 500-metres of distance to get back in line. I was way to far left; going for the wrong rock,” said Bennett. “But, I got back in line and Jacob was right behind me at that point. I was working really hard to stay ahead of him.”
Tofino Paddle Surf team rider Jacob Collard finished two minutes and four seconds behind Bennett, who had a finish time of one hour 20 minutes and nine seconds.
Collard’s effort in the 12-km race combined with his fourth place finish in the 4-km race earned him second spot on the Canadian men’s SUP race podium.
“My starts were quick, which is exciting. I’m not a big racer so I have minimal practice. That was exciting that I actually got out ahead of the pack,” said Collard, a new Tofitian who hails from Victoria.
“I was pretty stoked with the result. There are guys that I’ve known for years that have been racing for a long time. It was a stacked crew. I’m still surprised. But I’m out here every day and paddling with the school, teaching SUP surfing.”
Augaitis and Bennett will represent Canada at the 2016 ISA World Stand Up Paddleboard Championships in Fiji this November.
“I want to create a push in Canada. You can race SUP,” said Augaitis.
“Get out on the water. Paddle. Find friends and just cruise around. If you’re interested in racing, there are a bunch of races on the Island. You don’t even have to leave the Island to start off with.”
Bennett shared her enthusiasm, remarking that a SUP race held at a beach with pumping surf could be in Tofino’s future.
“The racing out here is completely different from anywhere else in Canada,” he said. “There are waves. It’s on the real coast. The swells make it really special.”
The National SUP race championships was hosted by Tofino Paddle Surf and supported by Coastline Surf and South Island SUP. A total of 44 racers competed on day one and 48 racers were on the water on day two.