RM Director's Corner with Dave Shotton, Cape2Cape Paddle

We have found the best paddleboard race on the East Coast and the man behind it

Creating an event and taking responsibility for hundreds of paddlers crossing a heavy body of water takes real cojones.  We found the guy behind what is setting up to be a legendary paddleboard race - Dave Shotton, owner of Freedom Surf Shop in Virginia Beach. He tells us why the Cape2Cape Crossing may just be the best paddleboard race on the East Coast, and why you should be there.  As far as new events go, this has to be one of the best planned and organized races I’ve ever come across.  Beautiful location - check.  Solid sponsors - check.  Course safety - done.  Affordable - uh huh.  Post race party - you bet.  They even have a ride from the airport to the event hotel covered - they really thought of everything.  So what are you doing this coming Father’s Day?   Here’s Dave . . . 

Event: Cape2Cape Crossing
Name: Dave Shotton
Event Date: June 21, 2015

RM: What’s your competitive background?
DS: I grew up in in Virginia Beach and started surfing (and working in a surf shop) at a very young age. My 20's were spent coaching and teaching skiing in Colorado and then off seasons surfing in Kauai.  Reality hit when I met my wife and I moved back home to spend 15 years as a sales rep. for O'Neill and Channel Island Surfboards... I put on quite a few events with O'Neill (Grom Prix's, Shop Challenges etc.) and always enjoyed running events! In 2007, I resigned from my post as a rep. and bought a surf shop (Freedom Surf) and immediately started selling Sup's and sponsoring/and racing  most of the local paddling events in the years to follow…

RM: When/how did you get into Race Directing?
DS: The concept of a paddle event that would cross the Chesapeake Bay was not unique. Many of us have looked at that body of water and have envisioned a elite race across it! In August of 2014, I was presented with the challenge to create the event... One thing led to another and along with Bill House (the Crossing Director) and a tight little crew, we have managed to create something pretty special.

RM: Tell us the history of your event? How did it come into being?
DS: Conceptually we understood how technical a paddle race would be across the Chesapeake Bay. Shoots, it's the largest estuary in the word and has two deep water shipping channels that run through it. So, in the infancy stages we knew that we had to create a platform that told the story as simply as possible, but we also had to create a event that would allow a diverse group to enjoy the day. 

The number "2" in the crossing is there because we are offering basically two events that meet up at First Landing State Park. The first event is the "Crossing", this is a 19 mile technical open ocean crossing that is catered to a very elite paddler (prone and sup). The second event is the "father's day celebration",  this will include a 2,4, and 12 miler (prone, sup, oc1,oc2) along with good food, live music and fun through out the day!

RM: Describe your race, what is the course like? Are there unique points along the way?
DS: The Crossing is a 19 mile open ocean event that will start at the Sunset Inn on Cape Charles, Va. and will then paddle around Fisherman's Island to then set the paddlers on a lengthy open ocean crossing to First Landing State Park.  We also will have a 12 miler which will be amazing! Smartmouth Brewing Co. will be sponsoring this event which sends the paddlers around Cape Henry (into the ocean) and then to make a turn at the G1 buoy and return. The other events are fun oriented!

RM: How many racers do you expect on race day?
DS: We are only expecting 20 paddlers for the Crossing due to budget constraints with the purse, along with the fact that this is the first year. We are however expecting 150 paddlers for the Father's Day Celebration's! With 1k people in the park that weekend, it should be a packed house!

RM: Describe the typical participant of your race? Do you have a professional field at your race?
DS: Again, we came out of left field this year, so the larger names have not reached out! With that said, the Crossing is set up so that an athlete can fly into Norfolk, Va. be shuttled to the Sunset Inn the night prior to the event and either stay in the hotel or camp out (they have a beautiful campground)and then paddle the next day while his bags and tent are shuttled to First Landing State Park only to camp out there afterwards!  We believe that if we nail this thing home this year, 2016 will see some larger interest.

RM: Does your event support any charities or non-profit making organizations?
DS: We are donating to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  CBF.org has been one of my favorite organizations for quite some time, so it's a honor and privilege to be working with them.

RM: What is unique about your event? Location? Theme? Nature?
DS: First Landing State park has quite the history as well as the Chesapeake Bay! Along with the history element, Cape Charles (the Eastern Shore of Va.) is one of the most pristine and beautiful areas in the world and one that is rich with many different paddling opportunities.

RM: Local knowledge: Are there any great parts of your race or surrounding area that you would suggest people visit while they are here for the event?
DS: I can't imagine a better way to spend Father's Day then to be at First Landing State Park paddling the event as well as watching my son paddling the free kids race and the free father/son, father/daughter relays. Along with the great paddling, we have three bands, five healthy food trucks and all sorts of fun stuff in store!

RM: Prizes? Swag? Sponsors? What should the racers expect?
DS: Initially we came out of the box with a large Crossing purse. This was a mistake as we put the cart in front of the horse, so to speak, and didn't see the initial sponsor commitments nor did we estimate the other costs involved. With that said, we have great prizes and swag from companies like Patagonia, Smith etc. as well as tees etc.  We plan to offer a safe, fun event and once executed will rally the sponsors for 2016 so that we can create a worthwhile purse and offer a truly global event.  

RM: How has the evolution of the paddling evolved and impacted your event?
DS: Of course we are seeing a huge explosion of new paddlers on the water. Although many are still migrating towards all round style SUPs, we are seeing a large interest in 12'6 and 14's. We also hope that the Crossing will open up a demand towards 17-19 open ocean boards for the community.

RM: We don't want to get too negative, but what’s your biggest headache as a race director?
DS: The 10 day forecast! We have to order tee shirts and Crossing Jersey's today and we know that our registration numbers will compound once the 10 day forecast is put out there. It would be nice to get earlier registrants.

RM: Besides this race. Do you have a dream race you want to create? Please share!
DS: The Cape2Cape Crossing is the dream race! Now it's time to make it a reality!

RM: Any last thoughts or shout outs?
DS: Thanks to Kyle at RaceMill for supporting our event and the guidance along the way. I also would like to thank Bill, Jay, Steve and Isa for all of the hard work in getting this launched. Alright then, let's do this!

RM: Thanks, Dave - may the sun shine strong on your event!
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