Aside from a few early season events, the next two weekends mark the kickoff of the North American racing season proper.
Florida's wildly popular Shark Bite Challenge along with newcomer Tocobaga Draft, Wesley Echol's Narrow River Race, the left coast's Silver Blade International Regatta, Southeast Paddle Series opener the Beaufort River Quest and from deep in the heart of Dixie's Bluz Cruz race all mark the upcoming calendar.
For a quick overview:
Shark Bite Challenge: 14th Edition of this race looks like a good one. Demo's, vendors, warm weather with white sand beaches and crystal clear water make a great way to thaw out after winter. Top racers from the region will be on hand as well top paddlers Oscar Chalupsky and Teneale Hatton.
Beaufort River Quest: Southeast Paddle Series get's started in the beautiful seaside town of Beaufort, South Carolina, made famous by resident best selling author Pat Conroy. River Quest will be held inside the bay and will complete short laps all visible from the downtown area spectators.
Bluz Cruz: 22 mile blitz down the fast moving Mississippi River. This will be the Twelfth edition of this race and these gulf region events are always special. They have their own way of tackling racing in this region and having a good time is paramount.
Narrow River Race: Longstanding New England race hosted by SurfskiRacing.com's Wesley Echols. Races in this area are always well attended and are almost always pure ski's. Great competition---always top guys tow the line. This year they may be dodging a snowstorm.
Tocobaga Draft: New installment. Looks like a great time drafting behind a boat down in Florida's pristine waters. Info here: http://www.surfskinews.com/first-blog/2017/3/26/featured-race-tocobaga-draft-april-1
Silver Blade Regatta: Hosted by the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team, this event should have an international flavor and will primarily feature sprint boats with ski's also taking part.
We've had a warm winter, allowing a rare opportunity to spend more time enjoying the unseasonable weather on the water.
Of course, with more paddlers spending more time in the bucket this should translate to some pretty fast racing right out of the gates.
And it's not just what's directly in front but the next several weeks. 2017 will absolutely hit the ground running with a buffet of events.
Surfski racing in the states is starting to suffer from double and even triple booking. If racing's your thing, you've probably already found that you may have multiple venue options on any given weekend.
Not a bad problem to have really, is it? Even if math isn't your strength, it's easy to see that surfski popularity is on the boom.
And right on time too. The ski is more accessible than ever. Short ones, long ones, fat ones, skinny ones, light, bombproof, carbon, glass, plastic and everything in between--there is an entry point for everyone.
And with an increase in popularity comes the benefits for the rest of us: more industry development (more product innovations), more races and events, more coverage and more friends to share the good times with.
It's a good time to be on a ski!