Surf City sees a lot of action every year with surf contests like the US Open, but this weekend, the Waterman League brought the Stand Up World Tour to town and its first mainland stop during the Huntington Beach Pro.
For three days, standup paddlers competed in trial heats and then the main event on the south side of Huntington Beach pier. The competition brought out locals like San Clemente's Colin McPhillips, Dave Boehne, Pat Huber and others, as well as top standup paddle surfers from around the globe like World Number 1 Kai Lenny and Australian newschooler Keahi De Aboitiz– all pining for glory and points to move them up the World Tour rankings.
France's Antoine Delpero stepped up his game in the Finals, winning the contest and securing his third place ranking in the tour. Delpero's win this weekend has closed the gap between him and World Tour leader, Kai Lenny, with only a few points keeping him from taking the number one spot. The final saw great crowds on Saturday, but unfortunately didn’t see the quality waves the rest of the competition was blessed with.
Taking the second place on the podium was 3-time Longboard World Champion, Colin McPhillips, who was stoked just to have some good conditions. "I'm used to surfing blown out crappy Huntington all the time," McPhillips said, but his effortless style helped him make his presence on the tour known.
Less than half a point behind McPhillips was Brazil's Leco Salazar who took third in the event and also improved his rankings to second on the tour. Leco jumped ahead of Delpero by only 0.7 of a point and ending up on the heels of Lenny, who finished fourth with a phenomenal overall performance. Leco's jump to second place has created an intensely tight battle for the world title between himself, Lenny, and Delpero.
The Na Kama Kai Youth Challenge attracted some great groms again and proved that standup paddling’s future can truly shred. Hawaii's Mo Freitas won the Na Kama Kai after failing to advance through the Trials in the Pro event. Maui boy Bernd Roedigger narrowly missed taking the win from Freitas, finishing second with Santa Barbara's Tucker Ingalls in third.
Standup World Tour fans spoke in online voting and chose Maui's Zane Schweitzer and Kelson Kihe, Mexico's Hector Gonzalez, Florida's Iain McFarland and Brazil's Alexandre Magrinho for the first People's Choice Super Session. The young Schweitzer was chosen as the people's favorite, winning the 20-minute heat and a roundtrip ticket from Air Tahiti Nui.
"I'm working my way up the chain,” Schweitzer said, who could be seen throwing free surfing airs south of the contest and managed to land several in competition before being knocked out in the semi-finals. “It's all possible in this contest." Schweitzer came out of the event ranked 7th, with Aaron Napoleon and Robin Johnston knocking him back a few spots from his former 5th spot.
The event was a successful fourth stop on the tour and Waterman League's Tristan Boxford was happy with the outcome. "We've got to be stoked, we had pretty epic conditions for Huntington Beach," Boxford said. "Every local told us how lucky we were.” —Shari Coble
For more info: Standupworldtour.com