North Carolina’s only world-ranked standup paddler, April Zilg, will pursue her 3rd consecutive Surf to Sound Challenge title this weekend. For Zilg, the race will be her last before she plans to relocate with the West Coast.
Zilg plans to step-up her training and sports career with a move to California in mid-November.
“I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to train year-round with the world’s best professionals,” said Zilg. “Although I do plan on moving back home to North Carolina.”
The seven-day weather forecast for the 7th annual Surf to Sound Challenge is excellent with temperatures expected in the mid-70s, sunny to partly cloudy skies, and winds under 10-mph.
“Most of my life I was not in good shape,” said Zilg. “Now, at age 31, I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life, and I owe it to paddling. I tried running, kayaking, and biking. I tried it all, but nothing made me want to get up in the morning and do work that would make me fit. Paddling and standing on a board and seeing the water and wildlife are magical. It makes me want to get up and go out.”
North Carolina’s 6.5-mile Surf to Sound Challenge begins on the beach with elite paddlers sprinting into the Atlantic Ocean, battling in the open sea to Masonboro Inlet, churning through the inlet’s roiling waters, and finally grinding at top speed in channel currents to the finish line at Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
“I like being here because I can paddle in the ocean, the inlet, and waterways, all in the same run … you need all to be well-rounded,” said Zilg. “That’s unique to Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Cup, and Surf to Sound Challenge.”
Zilg will race in the elite 6.5-mile race on Saturday, and Sunday’s 9-mile flatwater championship. “I want to see how far I can take this sport and dedicate my time to training,” said Zilg. “There is a lot of training. Many days, it’s twice a day. In the last year, I started focusing on nutrition. That made a big difference.”
Zilg posted an impressive third-place finish in September’s Battle of the Bay in San Francisco, then captured ninth-place in October’s Pacific Paddle Games, considered the world championship race in standup paddleboard.
Surf to Sound Challenge is a weekend of family activities, paddle clinics, vendor displays, and end-of-season races designed to include all skill levels.
New to the racing schedule:
- The Froth, an 11-mile longboat ocean canoe (OC) and surfski endurance event includes soundside and ocean racing, traversing Bank’s Channel, Masonboro Inlet, the Intracoastal Waterway, and Mott’s Channel.
Returning favorites include:
- The scenic 4-mile Harbor Island Outer Loop, a beginner to intermediate race circumnavigating Harbor Island.
- The 9-mile Blockade Runner Flatwater Championship, an endurance challenge for experienced paddlers.
- The celebrated Kid’s Race, for children 7 to 14.
- The 6.5-mile Surf to Sound Challenge for elite paddlers.
Canadian Sports Hall of Fame inductee and Olympic Gold medalist Larry Cain will pursue his 5th men’s championship in the elite 6.5-mile Surf to Sound Challenge. Cain just captured his fourth-straight title on Oct. 28 at Chattajack-31, one of the world’s most difficult endurance races on the Tennessee River.
“The race this year will be tough,” said Cain. “Chattajack’s 31-mile race is one week before Surf to Sound instead of two weeks. I’ll only have a week to recover rather than the usual two. It will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I always look forward to.”
Regarding 2018, Zilg’s favorite race of the year is the West Marine Carolina Cup, ranked one of the top three paddle races in the world. “That’s the race I put the most emphasis on all year. I train hard for the Carolina Cup and put forth my best performance,” said Zilg. “I would also like to add a couple of stops on the Euro Tour in 2018, and hopefully, my first Hawaiian race.”