For the seventh year in a row, unforgettable memories have been made on standup paddling’s biggest night of the year. The #PPG2017 Kickoff Party featuring the SUP Awards presented by Salt Life brought together a wide array of SUP athletes, filmmakers, philanthropists, industry members and everyday paddlers to celebrate our sport beneath the stars on a festive night at Doheny State Beach.
Dave Boehne returned to host the SUP Awards show and was in prime form, cracking jokes and wearing Trump masks (awkward?) in between handing out the coveted SUP Awards, which were voted on by thousands of fans from around the globe. Connor Baxter and Annabel Anderson took home the night’s highest honors, with Baxter receiving Male Paddler of the Year honors for a historic fifth time, while Anderson claimed Female Paddler of the Year for the second time in her illustrious career.
"Another year on the road and I don’t think you could script this,” Anderson said. “Everyone that has been a part of this year, thank you."
"It means so much for everyone to be here, I love this SUP community," Baxter said.
Top Male Paddler of the Year honors also went to Denmark’s Casper Steinfath (#2)-his first-ever SUP Award-and Maui's Kai Lanny (#3). For the ladies, it was Fiona Wylde (#2) and Candice Appleby (#3) receiving the honor for Top Female Paddler of the Year.
After overcoming grueling upwind conditions and an ultra-competitive field to win his second consecutive Carolina Cup, Titouan Puyo received a SUP Award for Best Male Performance of the Year. With an equally impressive and dominant performance at this year's M2O, Kiwi Penelope Strickland earned her first SUP Award by getting the nod for Best Female Performance of the Year.
In one of the most memorable moments of the evening, Chris Bertish gave a rousing speech after receiving a SUP Award for Top Expedition of the Year for spending three months and paddling over 4,000 miles to become the first person to complete a SUP crossing of the Atlantic Ocean back in March.
"It’s not what I did that was important, it was why I did it that was important," said Bertish. “For 93 days I paddled across the Atlantic. We all have our own oceans to cross and they feel too big and insurmountable. How do we achieve them? One stroke at a time. Just focus on what’s in front of you and stay focused. If you never give up, you can overcome any challenge, even the seemingly impossible.”
Proving the future of SUP is brighter than ever, Aussie Michael Booth capped his impressive year with a SUP Award for Male Breakthrough Paddler of the Year. He proved his mettle during last year's #PPG2016 Male Distance race when he crushed the competition. This year he continued his strong performance by taking the Euro Tour title. Meanwhile, teenage phenom Annie Reickert claimed the the Female Breakthrough Paddle of the Year after she rose through the ranks to become a top contender on the Women’s race circuit.
The SUP Awards Movie of the Year went to Brent Deal’s ConverSESSIONS, a film that documented SUP pioneers Dave Boehne, Dave Kalama and Colin McPhillips’ SUP surfing adventures in Mexico.
Rounding out the awards was a very deserving recipient in Tyler’s Dam that Cancer, who took home a SUP Award for Top Philanthropic Effort.
After the the hardware was handed out, attendees were treated to a musical treat with back-to-back performances from local musicians The Kalama Brothers and pro surfer Tim Curran, who got the crowd dancing and hollering well into the after-hours.