Float Fest 2016 was a paddle board race that took place on June 4th at Fager’s Island, in Ocean City, Maryland. In previous years the event was called Surf Swap, however, this year the event included a fun post-race party where people enjoyed the sunny weather, music, great food, and drinks while floating around the warm bayside waters in fun, inflatable pool floats – hence the name change to Float Fest. The race and event was organized by Dawn Ehman (@dawnehman), a well known local who is always a major competitor in the elite SUP races. She also organizes the Battle on the Bay race which takes place later this summer, also at Fager’s Island. You can sign up for that race at Paddleguru.
I competed in the open 2.5 mile race around the bay (check out the video below). It was a challenging race with several buoy turns and a lot of contenders. The elite 5 mile race followed the same course with additional laps. The race started off with a water start, where contenders stand in the hip-deep water next to their boards. At the sound of the start, racers leap unto their boards and paddle like hell to find their placement.
I had a difficult time keeping up with the pre-race meeting, as the course was described orally. There were a lot of buoy turns, and after 2 or 3 explanations of “make a right” and “make a left” I started to glaze over and stop listening. The race started and I thought I was doing pretty well, but I missed a very critical piece of information in the meeting: the open race makes TWO laps around the course, and the elite race repeats the course TWICE. I misheard this and thought that there was only one lap, and the elite course was two laps. I quickly realized my mistake when I approached the end of the course and no one was diverting to the finish line. CRAP! I have to go around again!?! I exploited my advantages and energy reserves on the first lap, and was running out of steam by the second. I always learn something at these events, and this event’s lesson was: STUDY THE COURSE! I also learned to keep a good steady pace for the first half of the race, but save the “super buoys” (one-time-use shortcuts) and energy reserves for the last lap, where most of my contenders passed me.
Overall it was a very fun event at a great location. Fager’s Island is beautiful and a hidden gem in OCMD. I’ll be back for the Battle on the Bay! The race results can be viewed Float Fest Race Results. Capital SUP had a big showing, and strong placements!
Here is a short Youtube Video that I made of the race using my GoPro Hero 3+. Check it out! I’d love to hear your feedback.