Local Ben Friberg Sets SUP Record With Cuba To Key West Trip

Reported by: Webb Wright
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Updated: 8/05/2013 12:39 pm
       CHATTANOOGA (WDEF)--Local standup paddleboarder Ben Free-berg already has one world record.
       Today, he set another record by traversing the 90 mile stretch between Cuba and Key West.
       The trip took just over 28 hours. In the process, he's helping Chattanooga become a hot bed for the sport.
       It seems simple enough. "I will be paddling on a standup paddle board. It is 14 feet long, I will stand the entire time that I paddle."
       But when you throw 90 miles of ocean into the mix, it becomes a one of a kind feat for Ben Friberg, one that has Chattanooga talking.
       "I think it's so cool going from one country to another, I think that's awesome," said paddleboarder Evan O'Lannerghty.
       "It's also just a real testament to what a pioneer of the sport that he is. He is the one who had the world record for going the longest distance, 238 miles down the Yukon River in a 24 hour period so we are really excited," added L2 Boards manager Bethany Smithers.
       Thanks in large part to Friberg's accomplishments, Chattanooga has become a Stand Up Paddleboarding hot spot.
       "The sport of paddleboarding has taken off by leaps and bounds this year. There are so many more boards on the water, that you can go anywhere; from the state parks that we have locally to downtown right here at our waterfront. You always see paddleboarders on the water," said Smithers.
       "It is growing tremendously, and I think Ben is kind of at least a local icon that kind of stands for that. He's super, super into it. He gets out there and encourages everyone to try it," added O'Lannnerghty
       Not only encouraging Chattanooga to try the sport, but to compete in it, starting the Chattajack 31 as an annual event.
      "What Ben is doing today inspires a whole new group of paddleboarders. You've got a growing number of folks who are doing the Chattajack, that 31 mile race every single year, people who never thought it possible to paddle for 31 miles and so we've got a new and growing genre of people who are really into going longer distances and making it part of their you know their serious sport," said Smithers.
       The ChattaJack 31 race travels from Lookout Mountain through Moccasin Bend and ends at Hale's Bar Marina.
This year's event happens October 26th.

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