(Sant Monica, Calif.) - Stand up paddling is the fastest growing sport in the world. This summer the Santa Monica Paddle Race and Ocean Festival connects paddling's present with its past through races and a historic surfing and paddling museum that will take over the Santa Monica Pier, Saturday June 11th.
The event, sponsored by surf clothing maker Honolua Surf Co, is a benefit for Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and its public marine education facility, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Heal the Bay will receive a portion of net proceeds from the event.
"The rapid growth of stand up paddling as a sport has really provided an opportunity to embrace the history and heritage of the waterman culture", said Pat Fraley, Brand Manager at Honolua Surf Co. "We didn't really know what to expect last year but we were really happy how it turned out. Now, with the growth in the sport and the additions we're making this year, it will be a stand-out event."
Last year's race and festival brought paddle racing back to the Santa Monica Pier after many decades of absence and far exceeded expectations both in terms of the number of competitors who showed up to race and the enthusiasm of the thousands of spectators who watched from the pier.
The first race will kick off promptly at 9AM with race events scheduled back to back until 2 PM. Categories include traditional paddle board, stand up paddle, life guard dory and outrigger canoe races. Immediately following the 2:30 pm awards ceremony there will be live music on the pier and a competitor’s after-party.
A number of special guests who played important roles in the early days of surfing and paddling will be on hand this year, signing books, photographs and meeting the public.
Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman, the young girl whose Malibu surfing antics in 1950's inspired her father to write the 1957 novel "Gidget, the little girl with big ideas" which was subsequently turned into the Gidget movies will be at the race, talking surfing and signing copies of the reissued book.
More than sixty years ago, in 1947, Esther Maire won the Pacific Coast Paddle Board Championship at the Pier. She'll be at the event and is very excited about the return of paddleboard racing in general. She'll be bringing the board she rode in 1947 to include in the historical exhibit
Jeff Ho, whose support of the original Z-Boys Skate Team made Santa Monica ground zero for modern skateboarding in the 1970s will also be on hand
Mickey Muñoz, legendary surfboard shaper and one of the original pioneers of big wave surfing at Oahu's Waimea Bay in 1957 is among several people over 70 years old participating in the race
The museum exhibits also include memorabilia such as antique surf and paddleboards, lifeguard rescue equipment and photographs of the first paddle racing craze which hit Santa Monica in the 1940s.
For more information, visit Pierpaddle.com
About Honolua Surf Co.
“L’Esprit et le Coeur en Harmonie” or “Mind and Heart in Harmony” is the spirit of aloha and the foundation that the Honolua Surf Co. was founded on. Celebrating the lifestyle of the island waterman – Honolua is focused on the person who has built a life centered on the ocean and all it has to offer.