Four Konas Down: #PPG2017 Kickoff Party and SUP Awards

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Hundreds of paddlers came out to Doheny State Beach on September 28 to celebrate standup paddling at the #PPG2017 Kickoff Party featuring the SUP Awards presented by Salt Life. Pros, brand representatives, international ocean athletes, local groms and any other type of standup paddle enthusiast joined together in the evening sunshine under rustling palm trees. When the sun went down, the night heated up. It wasn’t long before the cold cervezas from Kona Brewing Company began flowing like water. You know how we feel about water.

Cold cervezas from Kona Brewing Company began flowing like water. You know how we feel about water.

Here are some observations from the SUP staff when we were Four Konas Down.

 

Female Paddler of the Year No. 2 Fiona Wylde likes skateboards. Photo: Christian Jung/SUP magazine

Skateboards might not be the best prize to give athletes before the biggest event of the year. These are board people, after all and they’re bound to get on and take a rip, even after a couple brews. Nothing bad happened but we could just imagine someone telling their sponsor, “Blame SUPthemag, they gave it to me! They’re the reason I can’t race in PPG!”

“Blame SUPthemag, they gave it to me! They’re the reason I can’t race in PPG!”

Groms are the most stoked creatures on earth. For the whole SUP Awards portion of the evening there was a crowd of tow-headed groms sitting on the ground in front of the stage shouting at wipeouts, hooting for good waves and laughing at host Dave Boehne. Their parents were doing the same thing right behind them, stoke level strong.

Connor Baxter is sponsored by Salt Life and they’re really happy about that. Baxter won his fifth Male Paddler of the Year Award on Thursday night before going on to win his third consecutive Pacific Paddle Games. Both events are sponsored by Salt Life. Think they’re happy with their decision to sign him this year?

Mark Garza accepts the award for Top Philanthropic Effort on behalf of Tyler’s Dam That Cancer. Photo: Christian Jung

There are a lot of people doing good things for the sport. Mark Garza is one of the founders of Tyler’s Dam That Cancer, an event in Austin, Texas that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research every year was literally filming the stage when his name was announced to accept the award. His heart-felt congratulations and sincere thank you to the community remind us why we do this thing.

When someone that paddled over 4,000 miles alone tells you you can do anything, you tend to believe him.

Chris Bertish brought the house down. The ocean-crossing South African has been continuously doing public-speaking engagements since his 93-day Atlantic Ocean feat. He flew in from a speaking gig earlier in the day to close out the SUP Awards show with a powerful speech about believing in yourself and accomplishing your goals. When someone that paddled over 4,000 miles alone tells you you can do anything, you tend to believe him.

SUP Awards host Dave Boehne busts a groove with the groms. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez

The dance party was small but rowdy. Standup paddlers—especially those competing in PPG—kept things pretty mellow on Thursday night. But there was a good little crowd that filled up the dance floor and got down to the live tunes of the Kalama Brothers and Tim Curran and Friends. To those who ripped it up, we salute you.

Trump jokes don’t always fly. Host Dave Boehne once again entertained the crowd with his off-the-cuff remarks and hilarious sketches and also once again, some of the jokes didn’t land with everyone in the crowd. There were plenty of them that did, though and we’ll take that any day of the week.

The bar always closes too early. Turks, a water-side bar in Dana Point, was host to the unofficial after party for the second year running. While things didn’t get too rowdy, we did get kicked out at closing. Good thing too, because we had to go set up for #PPG2017 the next morning. All’s well that ends well.

2017 SUP Awards Results

2017 #PPG2017 Kickoff Party night of photo gallery