by Shayne Benowitz
If you’ve kept up with Fury Girl’s Blog or if you’ve been out on a Fury catamaran over the last couple of years, chances are you’ve already met Captain Michael Westenberger. The Fury captain and Key West Paddleboard Classic race director is the newest racer to watch in the professional paddleboard circuit, thanks to a slew of industry sponsorships.
Westenberger, known around town as “Westy,” has set out on a two and a half week trip to the West Coast where he will compete in some of the biggest paddleboard races to date. The first was San Diego’s Hennesy’s International Championships, a nine mile beach start and finish race held September 25. A competitor in the Unlimited Division, Westy made a strong showing.
Next, he’ll move up to Orange County where he’ll compete in Dana Point’s Battle of the Paddle October 2 & 3. The event will feature over 700 racers, including 200 in the elite division where Westy will compete. The event will be webcast live featuring both the distance and buoy competitions. The race also boasts a huge prize package of $10,000. On October 13, Westy will round out his trek with the Paddle to the Channel race in Lake Havasu, Arizona.
Stand-up Paddleboarding, or SUP, began as a leisurely hobby for Westy. His passion for the sport resulted in his turn as organizer for Key West’s summer race around the island, and eventually nurtured his natural competitive drive. With the support of his sponsors, he looks forward to traveling farther and wider for races, meeting other SUP competitors and enthusiasts, and having access to the newest equipment used in this swiftly growing sport. His current sponsors include Starboard Paddleboards, H2O Overdrive hydration drinks, Kaenon sunglasses, Waterman’s Applied Science sunblock, and 2XU compression gear.
For any newbies or beginners interested in paddleboarding, Westy recommends going for it! In Key West, head to Lazy Dog or SUP Key West to give it a whirl with a lesson or a rental board. If you’re ready to purchase a board, the Fury Surf Shack is a great resource with boards available in stock or by special order. Keep up with Westy’s travels and paddles via facebook.
Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer. For more travel stories and a daily dose of what’s cool around the globe visit her Wanderlust Website at http://web.me.com/shaynebeth.