Catalina SUP Fest Goes off in Fine Fashion

Southern California has a reputation as a sun-worshipers heaven. But more often than people like to admit, the coastal regions are coated with a fog bank until the afternoon winds can blow the coast free. This weekend, the Catalina Island SUP Festival presented by Revo was a welcome reprieve thanks to the Catalina Eddy, a wind pattern that repels fog back into the channel for most of the year. Some of the best standup racers in the world enjoyed Mediterranean weather combined with a stellar event where visitors could demo boards and stand shoulder to shoulder with the sport’s top athletes.

“It was a great time,” said Danny Ching, who won both the Elite Race on Saturday and the distance race on Sunday. “The set up was awesome and the weather was incredible.”

Competitors and spectators took over Descanso Beach, a gorgeous cove tucked below Catalina’s desert mountains. Event organizer Brandon von Guenthner set Saturday’s event up in heats. The Elite men and women ran three heats each and earned points towards their placings in the final. Danny Ching won every race including the final, cruising to the top spot while Slater Trout finished second and Jimmy Terrell ended up third.

On the women’s side, New Zealander Annabel Anderson showed off her pain-room prowess, winning each of her heats before taking home the top spot and part of the $15,000 purse. Gillian Gibree finished in second while Morgan Hoesterey rounded out the top three. “The girls are such strong competitors,” said Anderson, who capped off an incredible month where she ended up third in the Battle of the Paddle. “I just had to remember what it feels like to hurt a little bit and work to get a gap on everybody. It was so much fun to share the water with (all the other athletes).”

Saturday night, paddlers enjoyed a barbeque and live music at Descanso Beach, reveling in the near-perfect, late summer temperatures. Revelers were also treated to a viewing of the SUP Awards show and Tahoe SUP’s EXPLORE Project.

On Sunday, it was more of the same at the top: Both Ching and Anderson won again in the men’s and woman’s 8-mile Elite Distance respectively. Trout ended second after Ching was able to catch a few extra bumps in the windy conditions. Kiwi John Armstrong finished third. In the woman’s elite, Hoesterey and Gibree flip-flopped from the day before, ending 2 and 3.

There was a mellow vibe on the beach throughout the weekend as competitors took advantage of the kickback atmosphere after coming off a couple of weeks of intense racing. “We call this the vacation race,” said Race Director Barrett Tester. “Descanso Beach is a great place to hold an event and we had a lot of fun.”

Stay tuned as we update the photos in this gallery.

Visit our Facebook page for video from the event.

Elite Men
1. Danny Ching
2. Slater Trout
3. Jimmy Terrell

Elite Women
1. Annabel Anderson
2. Gillian Gibree
3. Morgan Hoesterey

Distance
1. Danny Ching
2. Slater Trout
3. John Armstrong
4. Thomas Shahinian
5. Rob Pelkey

1. Annabel Anderson
2. Morgan Hoesterey
3. Gillian Gibree
4. Krisztina Zur
5. Kristin Thomas

Click here for full race results.