Prizes, points for paddlers as Sunset SUP Series embarks

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After a May 29 rainout, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort will host its Thursday night Sunset SUP Series beginning June 5 at 6 p.m. Following a free 10-minute lesson, the races begin at 6:30 p.m.

Paddleboarders of all skill levels are invited to participate in the series, which will be broken up into two series of six and seven weeks. The first series runs from June 5 to July 10, and the second runs from July 17 to Aug. 28.

“I want to see more people get into the competition for the community and camaraderie of it,” said April Zilg, paddleboard instructor for the Blockade Runner and series organizer.

Each week, different courses will be chosen for the races based on weather conditions, Zilg said. The tide, wind and swell will be taken into account when mapping out the courses, which generally take 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

The races each week include an advanced course for experienced paddlers and a recreational course for those newer to the sport. Additionally, there will be shorter kids’ courses every other Thursday, Zilg said.

At the end of each race, participants will receive a certain number of points based on their placement. A grand prize will be given to the participant with the best score at the end of each series. Additional prizes will be given to randomly chosen participants in a raffle at the end of the weekly races, Zilg said.

Local sponsors have donated all of the prizes to the Sunset SUP Series. Grand prizes for this year include a Riviera BUMP paddle and memberships to CrossFit Coastal, with additional prizes including free rentals, free lessons, gift certificates and paddleboarding gear.

In past years, anywhere from 10 to 40 people participate on an average night, Zilg said. This year, however, is anticipated to be the biggest year yet, with the Carolina Junior Waterman’s Team participating in the kids’ races.

Zilg explained that the 10-minute lessons preceding the races will cover something that will be useful in that night’s race. For example, if there is a sprint race that night, the lesson would cover acceleration and forward stroke, Zilg said.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own boards, but there are rental boards on site. Those who don’t own a board are welcome to rent a board.

Zilg encourages anyone interested to come out to the races.

“It’s a good way to stay fit and hang out with friends,” Zilg said. “No one has to be cutthroat about it; there will definitely be friendly competition.”

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