This year, Quiksilver Waterman is hosting the Waikiki Paddle Festival May 5-6 at Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki. It looks to be one of the biggest paddling festivals in the country, with events for standup paddlers, outrigger canoeists, surfskis and traditional prone paddlers. SUPthemag recently caught up with legendary big wave surfer and Quiksilver Marketing Director Peter Mel to talk about the changes at Waikiki and what to look for at this year's event.
SM: How did the Waikiki Paddle Festival come to fruition?
PM: We've been the presenting sponsor with Battle of the Paddle for the last couple of years so it was natural for us to continue hosting the festival. It's pretty much a new event now. We've included the outrigger canoe element, which is a really exciting part of it. There's a huge canoe community here and we felt we needed to help support it. One of our ambassadors, Mel Pu’u, is an avid canoe paddler and approached us about it.
This year Jamie Mitchell created a new "Survivor" format for us and it's one of the best elements. It's similar to a lemans start in cycling. You're actually competing for first, second and third on every lap with prizes for each lap winner. It gives athletes incentives to win laps early. They'll be little battles within the battle.
SM: Are you guys getting quite a bit of support over there.
PM: Totally. Hawaiian Islands (tourism) is helping us out, plus Maui Jim, Surftech, Alaska Airlines, Kona Longboard Ale. It's a WPA-sanctioned event and a qualifier for the national championship.
SM: So, you guys are hosting a live webcast? That always makes events more exciting.
PM:Yeah. One of the benefits is the event will be on Time Warner Cable both days. We're going to bring a helicopter in for the distance race. It's going to be exciting to watch, especially when you add in the "Mitchell" format. I don't think outrigger canoes have been broadcast live. We'll have Mark Cunningham on the mic, Beau Hodge, Kaipo Guerrero, myself, with all sorts of interviews including athletes and different standup personalities.
SM: Why has Quiksilver committed to supporting standup?
PM:It's still one of the fastest growing board sports. You can't deny it's still growing. There's a huge women's contingency. It's big. Quiksilver is about enjoying any body of water any way you can: surfing, SUP, swimming, just going for it in the avenue you choose. And our athletes bring so many different elements to water sports: Jamie Mitchell, obviously a world champion prone paddler, a fantastic standup paddler, and he was recently nominated in for the XXL Big Wave Awards. Mark Healey's a world champion spear fisherman, surfer, a shark whisperer; Mark Cunningham is a world class bodysurfer. For us, it's about enjoying the water.
For more info and to register for the event, click here.