Last weekend's much anticipated Hennessey's-WPA World Championships was "a success," event director Tim Ritter said. Saturday's events drew in elite standup paddlers and prone paddlers from around the world, making for exciting races and a strong competitive field with lots of wins for Australia.
The day of racing began at 7:45 in the morning with the Elite Qualifier. Standup paddlers who had not already qualified for the afternoon's Elite race through previous WPA races competed on a 4-mile course at the Hermosa Beach pier. The Fun Paddle, a shorter 3-mile race, took place after the Elite Qualifier for non-competitive and novice paddlers.
The event of the day, the Elite Race, was an exciting one for many with $16k in prize money awarded across the board classes. In the stock SUP class, Aussie hellman Jamie Mitchell (above, with Candice Appleby) and Los Angeles County lifeguard Danny Ching took first and second after a grueling 6.6-mile battle. "Danny was ahead of Jamie for 2 and a half of the 3 laps and then Jamie just took him down," Ritter said. "Danny had about a 30 second lead on Jamie, so it was huge for Jamie to win in the end," Ritter added.
Mitchell finished with a time of 1:21:25, 28 seconds ahead of Ching. Ching is a well-known elite paddler in the competitive outrigger racing world, while Mitchell comes from a prone paddleboard background, dominating the famous Molakai to Oahu race for the past decade. Mitchell and Ching will meet in an exciting re-match at next week's Rainbow Sandals Gerry Lopez Battle of the Paddle at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, Calif.
Australian, Joel Mason, took home a world championship title for his win in the Unlimited Paddleboard class. Mason had a 3-minute lead over second place Unlimited paddler and winner of the recent Catalina Classic, Brad Thomas, of Redondo Beach.
Because of a strong headwind that picked up during the Elite Race and lots of chop, standup paddlers had a tougher race than prone paddlers. Mason had the fastest time of the day, nearly 8 minutes ahead of Brian Stockdale, the first SUP finisher and winner of the Unlimited SUP class, who finished with a time of 1:14:49. Just behind Stockdale was Dialy Ndiaye of Marina Del Rey, who finished in1:16:14.
San Clemente, Calif.’s Candice Appleby (below), was the champion of the Women's SUP division at 1:27:30, followed closely by New Zealander Annabel Anderson (1:28:32) and Brandi Baksic of San Clemente. "This year all of the board classes saw extremely tight competition," Baksic said. "The competition was stacked and it was great to see so many international paddlers come out, especially when the race incorporated lots of different aspects; with the rough conditions, the changing wind and beach start, competitors' skills were really tested," Baksic added.
Brian and Mark Murphy, brothers and Los Angeles County lifeguards took first and third in the Stock Paddleboard class, with times of 1:20:26 and 1:21:59. Second place Stock paddler, Jack Bark, finished close behind with a time of 1:20:47. Jo Ambrosi of Australia won the Women's prone paddleboard class at a time of 1:31:19. Ambrosi, recent winner in the women's division of the Catalina Classic, had almost a 30-minute lead over second place finisher, Kathy DeWet-Oleson of Ventura, who finished in 1:58.
Floridian and Water Monkey-founder, Chase Kosterblizt, took first in the 14' SUP class at 1:15:29, followed by Slater Trout of Hawaii, who finished at 1:16:21.
In the 14' paddleboard class, Jay Scheckman of San Diego took first at 1:16:18, with a good lead over second place finisher, Larry Felix, also of San Diego, who finished with a time of 1:27:18.
"It was a great day with around 200 competitors racing," Ritter said. "We had a lot of heavy-hitters out there, so I don't think we could have asked for more" Ritter added. - Shari Coble
For info and results: Hennesseyspadddleboarding.com