The SurfskiRacing.com Race Series winner for the second year in a row goes to Greg Lesher(71 points) by a wide margin over 2nd place finisher Jan Lupinski(61 points) and 3rd place newcomer Chris Quinn(48 points).
The series is a combination flat water races and ocean and points are only given to “local New England paddlers”, taking the best of the six races. In order to place high in the standings, you have to be fast in both flat water and ocean conditions. As I like to say to paddlers in other parts of the country that rave about doing only downwind or being strictly flatwater specialist, New England surfski paddlers can grind with the best of them, upwind, against the current, side chop bring it on since most of our races rarely include downwind. The top end of the series is made up of paddlers who excel at both flat water and ocean. It took Greg a few years in the ocean to be as swift as he was on flat water. The same could be said of Jan a few years ago. However, Jan now has plenty of big water of experience and looks to take advantage of all the downwind components of a given race like the Paddle the Bay Race that big and confused water where he placed 1st. Jan also won the shortest race of the season, the fog shortened 3 mile Nahant Dash.
Greg continues however, to dominate the series winning 5 of the races, placing second for the rest and only one 3rd place. Beside a huge training load, Greg now chooses his boat of choice between his V14 for flat water and V10 for ocean and the V10sport for really big days like Battle of the Bay. When the New England fast paddlers all show, they can put pressure on Greg and vice versa. This season’s top paddlers include Mike Dostal, Craig Impens, Eric Costanzo and Tom Murn. Next year could be a good year for Paul Facteau who was just behind Greg at the East Coast Champs in his first race.
New comer Mike Florio had showed good form on flat water but never found his groove in the ocean unlike his sometime training partner and 3rd place Series winner Chris Quinn. Just after 2 years of surfski paddling, Chris came on like game busters. Not a quick starter in the races similar to Greg, but as the race continues, Chris makes his way through the pack to chalk up some impressive races. Both he and Jan had enough races to qualify for the series. Chris did well at the Narrow River Race, Essex, and the Doublebeaver race claiming 9 pts of the maximum 12. His showing at the East Coast Surfski Champs was disappointing due to rudder lines on a borrowed ski. I am sure he will make note in the future “alway check every component of a borrowed ski to make sure of the fit and function”. I also think Chris will be using a V14 for his flat to moderate races since he no problem with balance.
Also of note was Tim Dwyer who placed only one point behind Chris for a solid 4th place. Tim had solid performances for the early season open the Snow Row with a second place, and solid performances at the Battle of the Bay, Essex and Doublebeaver. Tim was a little more consistent early season then previous years and was able to maintain that throughout the season. Tim also hosted top world paddlers Sean Rice and Jasper Mocke for clinics in our area that was greatly appreciated.
In the women division, Mary Beth Gangloff won the Series for the 3rd year in a row. Mary Beth did all but two races on the schedule so is a model of consistency and quickness. We had a few more women this year at the major races which is encouraging like Leslie, Pam, Fiona, and Leah. So BIG congratulations the winners and everyone who participated in the series. Racing 6 or more races is the standard of consistency and these excellent paddlers got it done!
I approached my season a little differently trying to peak for a few races vice all of them. That was partly successful having placed 11th overall for the my 15th Blackburn. I also had a good race for the Double Beaver, and Battle of the Bay. It is no secret, I clearly prefer the ocean races to the flat water races where my rough water skill set and boat optimization give me an advantage over some. I will make some changes for next year and hopefully be up in the standings. I must say though looking at the standings, all the paddlers with more points are quite a few years younger than Tim, Chris Chappell, and myself. So we actually feel good about that most days!