Jonny Skolnick Wins Again in Cape to Cape Paddleboard Race

Jul 04, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Jonny Skolnick on July 1 captured the top spot in the prone stock division of the Cape to Cape Paddleboard Race, a 17-mile haul from Cape Henlopen, Del., to Cape May.

When Jonny Skolnick was in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., for the Carolina Cup paddleboard race in April, he had heard that some high-caliber paddlers were heading north for the fifth annual DeSatnick Foundation Cape to Cape race. But after missing last year’s 17-mile haul from Cape Henlopen, Del., to Cape May because of an injury, Skolnick had something to prove. He won the prone paddle division two years ago, after all.

“This was the most competitive field they’ve had at the Cape to Cape,” Skolnick said the morning after he won the stock prone division in three hours, 18 minutes, 11.52 seconds on July 1. “This time, there were a couple of guys who competed at nationals, a few Australians ... some really great competition. I thought I was going to get smoked by some of these guys, but I still wanted to do really well.”

Coming off a second-place finish in the 22.5-mile Paddle For A Cause in Atlantic City a few weeks ago, Skolnick got out near the front with a half-dozen other prone paddlers in Sunday’s race across the mouth of Delaware Bay. Once he was out into the Harbor of Refuge, clear of the north point of Cape Henlopen, Skolnick separated himself from the group.

“Out in the open water, there are so many ways you can go,” he said. “I just got away from everybody else and went off on my own. I knew which way I wanted to go, and I took the right line. The experience of being in this race before definitely helped.”

During the next 10 miles, Skolnick steadily cruised along, maintaining his position near the front of the stock paddleboard division – those using 12-foot boards, as opposed to the unlimited division, which was for longer boards.

“I knew the guys who were behind me, and I didn’t take it for granted,” Skolnick said. “In the open water, anything can happen and there’s a point in the race, as you go around the south end of Cape May Point, that it gets really tough. When you really see the lighthouse, you still have 4 miles to go. At that point, it’s all mental. But I felt good, and I just kept positive-talking myself through it.”

By the time Skolnick approached the beach at Queen Street, a few blocks east of Cape May Convention Hall, he was roughly five minutes behind unlimited-division winner Patrick Kennedy but was first across the line for the stock division. Dan Grothues finished second behind Skolnick in 3:21:00.24 and Phill Lloyd, a former lifeguard for multiple Long Beach Island beach patrols, was third in 3:21:45.13.

“I’m very happy with the time,” said the 31-year-old Ship Bottom lifeguard. “It’s just a fun race to do, and the really cool part is we raised a ton of money to help people with spinal cord injuries. The money that’s raised helps people in southern New Jersey, and that’s the really great thing about the race.”

The DeSatnick Foundation is a nonprofit organization aimed at helping those living with spinal cord injuries in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties.

Now, with three long-distance races out of the way, Skolnick will turn his focus toward the big event of the year for him – the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddle World Championships, dubbed “the world’s most challenging paddle race,” during which competitors paddle 32 miles across the Ka’iwi Channel in Hawaii.

“This is a race I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” said Skolnick, who will be part of a world-class field of paddlers on July 29. “It’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I really can’t wait to cross the channel and enjoy it. And when I’m finished, I’ll be able to say I did one of the most respected and hardest races on the water. I’m really humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of this race. I’m so stoked for it.”

— David Biggy

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