North Carolina

North Carolina Beaches to Host Surf to Sound Challenge

31 Oct, 2017

North Carolina’s only world-ranked standup paddler will pursue her third consecutive Surf to Sound Challenge championship, Nov. 3-5, in Wrightsville Beach. April Zilg, currently ranked number eleven on the Top-50 Women in the world by SUP Racer, is from Wilmington.

“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 to be well-rounded,” said Zilg. “That’s unique to Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Cup, and Surf to Sound Challenge.”

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 race from soundside to ocean, 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.

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 3rd-place finish in September’s Battle of the Bay in San Francisco, then captured 9th-place in October’s Pacific Paddle Games, considered the world championship race in standup paddleboard.

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.”

When Zilg is off the race circuit, she can be found at Carolina Paddle Board in Wrightsville Beach, teaching others the sport of standup paddleboard. “If people are interested in trying standup paddleboard they shouldn’t be afraid or hesitant,” said Zilg. She plans to teach clinics at Surf to Sound Challenge on Thursday and Friday.

Presented by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club, North Carolina Surf to Sound Challenge is hosted by Blockade Runner Beach Resort and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association (WPA).

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, supporting a healthy coast, is the designated charity for Surf to Sound Challenge.

Click here for race information and registration

Click here for accommodations


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