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Weather challenges at NC Cold Stroke Classic

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WRIGTHSVILLE BEACH, NC (NC PRESS RELEASE) -- One of the East Coast's longest running stand-up paddleboard races did not disappoint on Saturday, providing extreme conditions for seasoned SUP athletes seeking adventure. With temperatures at 34 degrees and winds 10-20 mph, the 6th Annual Cold Stroke Classic launched with white caps in the channel under clear skies.

Winds, dropping temperatures, running tides and choppy waters added to excitement and complexity, requiring more thought and strategy by participants. Paddlers from all corners of the United States registered for the competition.

The Classic featured a 7-mile elite competition, a 3.5-mile recreational race, and a 14-and-under kids' division. A cash purse was awarded in the elite division, and over $5,000 in prizes in the recreational division.

Jeremy Whitted of Charleston, S.C. and April Zilg of Wilmington, N.C. took top honors in the Elite Men's 14' and Elite Women's 12'6" in their respective divisions.

Photos courtesy Bill Baggett

Here are the top 3 winners in all categories:

Elite Men's 14'

1. Jeremy Whitted, Charleston, SC

2. Ron Gossard, Ocean City, MD

3. Dan Gavere, The Gorge, Oregon

Elite Men's 12' 6"

1. Will Lathan, Wilmington, NC

2. Matthew Nacy, Purceville, VA

3. Tom Wilson, New Bern, NC

Elite Women's 12' 6"

1. April Zilg, Wilmington, NC

2. Kimberly James, Wilmington, NC

3. Miriam Sutton, Wilmington, NC

Recreational Men's 14'

1. Neil Macindoe, Annapolis, MD

2. Bryan Barton, Annapolis, MD

3. William Reece, Chapel Hill, NC

Prone Unlimited

1. Christopher Hill, Surf City, NC

2. Mark Schmidt, Wilmington, NC

3. Gordon Rock (alias Runslo Walksalot), Wilmington, NC

SurfSki Unlimited

1. James Smith, Wilmington, NC

2. Hunter Hay, Wilmington, NC

Recreational Women's 12' 6" and under

1. Anna Blackburn (14 years of age), Wilmington, NC

2. Julia Nicholls, Morehead City, NC

3. Harmony Dawn, Ottawa, Canada

Recreational Men's 12' 6" and under

1. Eric Kopka, Hamstead, NC

2. Justin Schaay, Charleston, SC

3. Ed Pierce, Wilmington, NC

The race course circled Harbor Island via Banks Channel, Motts Channel, and the Intracoastal Waterway. All races began and ended at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, host of the Cold Stroke Classic. Blockade Runner is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2014.

The Cold Stroke Classic began under the leadership of Jeoffrey and Catherine Nathan, founders of Coastal Urge, a Carolina-based lifestyle outfitter. Coastal Urge also established, and continues to present, the annual Newport SUP Cup in Newport, Rhode Island.

The 6th Annual Cold Stroke Classic benefits SUP Cleanup, an organization dedicated to removing trash and debris from littered waterways and beaches throughout the United States.

Photos courtesy Bill Baggett

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