The US SUP Tour is coming to San Clemente, Calif. for its second stop this weekend, June 15-16. Huntington Beach surf division winner Colin McPhillips will try to repeat his victory while the likes of Sean Poynter and Mo Freitas will try to dethrone him on Sunday. They’ll also be racing alongside the likes of Ryan Helm, Fernando Stalla and others in the race on Saturday for the overall title which Freitas took in Huntington. Sofia DeWolfe will also be defending her overall win from that event on the women’s side. We talked to event director Ian Cairns to get the scoop.—Will Taylor
SUP mag: How are the waves looking?
IC: It’s looking two-three feet. That could mean chest high waves for Church, which could be good. It’s not going to be crazy like last weekend.
SUP mag: How is Church as a SUP wave in particular?
IC: If it’s a NW swell it’s a pretty exceptional SUP wave because it lines up down the reef and gives you sections to race and make. These south, southwest swells we’ll likely be working with tend to break up into two areas. It’s not as clean and perfect although it’s still a pretty fun wave.
SUP mag: What can you tell us about the race course?
IC: The smaller waves are a good thing for the race course. On the north hand side of the beach, toward Middles, there’s a left that creates a little bay. There are no rocks there, actually. We’ll be running from 100 yards north of Church to a buoy up toward Middles and back in toward another buoy. It’ll go in and out of surf and we’re looking at a south swell. So as everyone goes in and out there could be sets or it could be flat. If there’s a set on the way in, racers will be able to ride from the outside buoy across the right to the inside buoy.
SUP mag: Any new organizational changes for this comp from Huntington?
IC: The primary organizational change is having the racing on one day and the surfing on another. Not only does it make the event more exciting but it’s way too much work for athletes to race and compete surfing in one day. This way they’ll be able to be fresh. And your head space has to be way different when racing versus when surfing. This way they can get their head organized on just doing the one task. That was a key piece of learning for us.
SUP mag: What do you think about surfers being grumpy about a SUP contest at Church?
IC: Well, Church is actually an allowed SUP area. I’m all for multiple surf craft in the water and quite frankly getting five or six young longboarders out there makes it more difficult than a few SUPers out there. People just have to behave themselves.
SUP mag: What makes this event special?
IC: I like the idea of the regular lineup you get from a reef break. Beachbreaks like Huntington are pretty random. Different surfers will do differently at these places. Although Colin won in Huntington and I could see him winning here with his mean frontside hacks.
The in-and-out through the surf is another part I find really interesting. With our events, we always want to have that surf feel with them. It makes the races more exciting.
There are already 50% more people than entered Huntington. The word’s getting out there. We’re looking forward to a fun event.