Slater Trout might rule the SUP world in the ocean, but in the river up-and-coming kudos go to fellow Hawaiian teen Noa Ginella.
At the inaugural Eddie Bauer/First Ascent Stand Up Paddle Sprint event held June 5 at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail., Colo., 16-year-old Noa Ginella, paddling for C4 Waterman, took top honors in the 40-person field, out-paddling everyone from river veterans Dan Gavere and Charlie MacArthur (pictured below) to fellow big wave stand-up paddlers from Hawaii. Hailing from the North Shore of Oahu, Ginella had never even paddled whitewater before the weekend's competition.
Earlier in the week, Gavere and MacArthur finished first and second, respectively, at the second annual Stand Up Paddle Whitewater Championships downstream in Glenwood Springs, Colo. In this event, however, Ginella bested Gavere by 16.7 seconds, finishing the three-mile course on Gore Creek in 18:15:53. Perhaps his big wave background helped. The creek was flooding at 1,200 cfs at race time, causing authorities to issue a high-flow warning and cancel the Games' Sunday whitewater events entirely. The high flows forced racers to drop to their knees and stomachs to clear bridges and brace through rapids to remain upright.
"It was a great race," says Ginella. "I took two falls, but relied on advice from Uncle Brian [Keaulana] to take deep, easy strokes and just keep going." C4 Waterman co-founder Keaulana was one of eight competitors traveling over from Hawaii to compete in the event, a posse that also included surfing icon Archie Kalepa. The company's team of Hawaiian big wave surfers won six of 10 of the top slots in the men's division and swept the podium in the women's division.
But it was Ginella, paddling a prototype 12'6" iSUP inflatable, who stole the show. "Noa's an amazing athlete," says C4 Waterman co-founder Todd Bradley. "Anytime we've put him in a competitive situation, he excels."
Bradley seconded MacArthur. "I'm especially proud of the women," Bradley said. "They really helped prove this sport is truly for both men and women."
In all 40 competitors, six women and 34 men, competed in this first-ever SUP sprint. For the women, with a winning time of 21:00:49, Jenny MacArthur of Aspen, Colo., beat Nicole Duke of Boulder, Colo., by nearly 37 seconds, while Jen Koki of Hawaii glided to third place. "There's a great, young field of women coming up," says MacArthur, who lost time when he had to run back upstream to retrieve his board that was stuck in a hydraulic. "The sport's growing and it's definitely here to stay." See an interview with Noa from Vail here.
1. Noa Ginella - 18:15.53 (Kahuku, HI)
2. Dan Gavere - 18:32:23 (Hood River, OR)
3. Dave Collins - 18:38.95 (Lamanzilla, MX)
1. Jenny Macarthur - 21:00.49 (Aspen, CO)
2. Nicole Duke - 21:37.29 (Boulder, CO)
3. Jennifer Koki - 21:39.57 (Honolulu, HI)