The playing field at the 2015 Hanohano, shot on an infared camera. Photo: Steven Adams

The playing field at the 2015 Hanohano, shot on an infared camera. Photo: Steven Adams

The 2015 Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge

It’s not the most famous race of the year. Not the most prestigious or star-studded. Its prize purse is humble and its results are more for bragging rights than advancement on tour. But after yesterday’s showing at the course in Mission Bay, San Diego—a crowd of more than 500 racers—the Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge proved itself to be one of the biggest paddle races in Southern California.

The 19th Annual Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge, which hosted divisions for SUP, prone, outrigger and surf skis, saw the race's largest crowd to date with an overwhelming majority of entrants opting to take on the five-plus mile short race by SUP (there’s a long course as well, but it’s closed to standups). Of the 440 finishers, 302 crossed the finish line via standup.

Among the top finishers was Candice Appleby, who took first in the 12'6 SUP division with a time of 1:03:54. Infinity Boards' shaper, Dave Boehne, finished first on the Mens’ side of the same division with a flat time of 1:02. In the Mens' 14' division, rising Canadian star—Tamas Buday Jr.—finished 1st ahead of Chance Fielder (2nd), Noa Hopper (3rd) and Chase Koseterlitz (4th).

But perhaps the most intriguing result of the race—a best-overall time of 0:56:28—came on a craft so unique it demanded its own, unprecedented "Quad" class. Shaping brothers Dick and Dane DeBoer, along with Mike Vaughan and Annabel Anderson, paddled "The Ark"—a custom built, 43'6″, multi-person SUP—to victory nearly a minute ahead of the closest runner up in the SUP short course, Thomas “Maximus” Shanihan. In an Instagram comment posted after the event, Anderson said her experience on The Ark was “equal to the most fun I have had on a stand up board.

“This is my 15th year doing the Hanohano,” said Maximus, second-place finisher in the SUP short course and contender in the long course outrigger division. “Every year it gets better and better. Last year was a benchmark year for the SUP division with far more standup paddlers than we’d ever seen in the event. This year we had nearly 100 more standup entrants than last year. It’s awesome to see such tremendous growth in one of my favorite contests on the calendar.”

Maximus and other competitors praise the main organizer of this year's Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge, who’s also a leading conductor of Stand Up For The Cure—Dan Van Dyck—for what Anderson said was “one of the best produced and inclusive events on the calendar.”

“Every event Dan does is spectacular,” Maximus said. “I can’t say enough about him or the events he puts on. Dan goes above and beyond to put on the best event possible for everyone involved, from the sponsors to the competitors.”

For more on the Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge, visit the event’s website or click here.