Suzanne Riedinger appears to be a speck in the water as her 31-plus-mile paddle from Capitola to Monterey nears an end. (Karen Waterman/Contributed)
Rio Del Mar resident Suzanne Riedinger recently completed a prone paddle from Capitola to Monterey. (Karen Waterman/Contributed)
Suzanne Riedinger paddles near the end of her epic trip around the Monterey Bay on Aug. 29, 2012. (Karen Waterman/Contributed)
Suzanne Riedinger hefts her paddleboard as she exits the Monterey Bay following a 31-plus-mile prone paddle, ending at the pier in Monterey. (Karen Waterman/Contributed)
Suzanne Riedinger launched into the Monterey Bay from Capitola on her 14-foot paddleboard at 6:03 a.m. on Aug. 29 with the intention to arrive in Monterey in time for the lunch specials.
Nine hours and 50 minutes later, the 67-year-old Rio Del Mar resident had missed the lunch specials — but she did see two years of training finally culminate in her quest to make it across the bay.
Riedinger, who has been prone paddling since the 1980s, completed her 31.72-mile trip along the coast solo, and without a support boat.
“I was too cheap to hire a boat,” Riedinger said with a laugh, noting that if she had made the trip when she first intended, she would have had one.
Originally, Riedinger planned to participate in the the Ghost Ryders Watermen Club’s Bay Crossing in 2011. Instead, she came down with shingles and was unable to participate.
Riedinger altered her plans and decided to do the 2012 crossing instead. Then, that event was cancelled.
Not to be deterred again, she decided to do it on her own.
Riedinger – armed with a GPS, Cambelbak and snacks – was making good time for the first half of her trip. Then, she reached Moss Landing, and the lunch specials started slipping out of reach. Southwest winds started whipping and the swell started building.
Riedinger, who wasn’t wearing a wetsuit and didn’t have a leash, said she just looked like one of the white caps.
“There were places where I questioned my own sanity,” Riedinger said of finding herself out in the choppy water with no boats in sight.
In the end, though, Riedinger completed the trip safely, grabbed a bite at the Sandbar & Grill with friend Karen Waterman — who picked Riedinger up and drove her back to Santa Cruz, and was happy to be able to add her name to a list of women that inspired her to venture across the bay in the first place.
To her knowledge (although she says there may be more), women to have previously made the entire trek across the bay by paddleboard were Jane McKenzie, Beth Pitts, Nicole Kennedy, Jennifer Jones and Robin Janiszeufski in 1995, as well as Ramona d’Viola and an unknown woman.
If you know of another woman to have paddled across the bay, go ahead and leave the details in the comments.