The 13 Annual Shark Bite Challenge was called due to high winds and waves. The decision was mandated by the Coast Guard, Florida Parks and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department.
A secondary option was apparently not viable as high winds buffeted the area.
Race organizer Karen Mirlenbank plans to move forward with the following days activities as well as offering a "fun race" option for those feeling inclined to mix it up before heading home.
Undaunted, Racers quickly switched gears; making the best of an otherwise disappointing situation. The SUP crowd made for the shore break as the Ski an OC-1 camps took to deeper water seeking downwind runs.
The showdown between top athletes Sean Rice and Jasper Mocke was not to be. The two, along with Jesse Lishchuk instead joined forces, embarking on a 50 KM downwind in what they later deemed to be the best conditions they had experienced in several months.
The scene played out the same with others throughout the day, with groups splitting off for social paddles at various locations in the area.
Afterwards, throngs of attendees converged at the Dunedin Brewery, as the crowd reveled in food, drinks and community. The atmosphere did not belie a negative response, with the raucous crowd cavorting and socializing as though partaking in an Italian family reunion.
In a great display of the paddling communities' soul, in spite of disappointment, we always rally for the good time and good friends.