Event Coverage | Air Tahiti Nui Waterman World Tour Kicks off
By: Morgan Hoesterey
Alison Riddle and Rodney Ellis took top honors (and round trip tickets to Tahiti) Saturday as the Air Tahiti Nui Waterman World Tour kicked off its inaugural event at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Building on his widely successful Waterman Tahiti Tour, event creator Stephan Lambert brought his team of Tahitian athletes to show their skills and to compete against some of California's best ocean athletes during the Hard Corps Race Series Water Warrior Amphibious Assault.
The Amphibious Assault is not your ordinary day of SUP racing. Instead of participating in just one discipline, racers must complete a series of events including a one-mile open harbor swim, a distance prone paddleboard race and an obstacle-ridden SUP race through both surf and flat water—think Pacific Paddle Games only with rope ladders and sand running. Those who take on the challenge to participate in every discipline earn themselves a chance at an invite and round trip ticket to the Bora Bora Ironmana Waterman Final, to be held in December.
"The Ironmana Waterman Final is both a challenge and a personal journey," said Lambert. "The event is a chance to celebrate the waterman spirit and to give each athlete an opportunity to Go Deeper."
Broken down into preliminary heats and a final, the Amphibious Assault SUP race was the standout race of the day. On their way to the water, competitors had to negotiate a gauntlet of sand hills and sand crawls. Just watching them run through the soft sand was enough to make someone tired. Once at their boards, the paddlers had to make their way in and out of the shorebreak before returning to the sand for another run and a cargo net climb—and this was only half of the course. The second half of the course included two laps of flatwater paddling laced with stair climbs and waterslides before returning for a final run through the gauntlet.
"Not only is this event unique because it combines traditional racing with obstacles," overall Waterman Rodney Ellis added, "it is special because this location is generally restricted to the public."
As if the races themselves weren't enough of a challenge, the current heat wave made Del Mar Beach seem less like Southern California and more like a beach in Tahiti. This seemed to make Team Tahiti feel right at home, and the Tahitians proved that they had come to California to make a statement. Standout performances from the Tahitian team included Teva Poulain, Niuhiti Buillard and Teina Ebb on the men's side, with a strong performance from Hina Yiou on the women's side.
Some of California's top ocean athletes countered with impressive performances of their own. Chuck Glynn posted the top overall time in the SUP race, while Don Miralle finished first in the prone paddle race. Rodney Ellis from Los Angeles took top honors as Overall Waterman after impressive performances in all three disciplines.
On the women's side, Shae Foudy dominated the women's SUP race, followed by Erika Benitez. Alison Riddle finished first in the prone race and earned the title of Overall Waterwoman.
"It wouldn't be a true Stephan Lambert event without a little bit of torture," said Riddle, "but I love these types of events because in addition to testing your mental limits, they test your ability as an overall water athlete, not just in a certain discipline."
Amphibious Assault SUP Elite Men:
Prone 10K Men:
Prone 10K Women:
Amphibious Assault Open Men:
Amphibious Assault Open Women: