Big Wins at Santa Monica Pier
Many of the world's elite paddleboard racers gathered at the Santa Monica Pier to compete for cash prizes in the 5th annual Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race and Ocean Festival presented by Tommy Bahama. Event organizers reported that upwards of four hundred people competed in more than a dozen different events.
Aussie pro big wave surfer and 10-time Molokai to Oahu prone champion Jamie Mitchell took advantage of a 24-hour travel layover between flights from Hawaii to Tahiti to dominate the 5.5-mile elite long course race. Mitchell said that good conditions out on the course allowed him catch some swells on the downwind leg and get ahead of the pack. He crossed the finish line with a time of 58.56 and almost immediately had to leave for LAX to catch his next plane.
"I woke up this morning and just thought it would be fun to come do a race," said Mitchell. "It was a fun time out there and the conditions were great."
Shae Foudy of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. took the women's 5.5-mile standup race, beating a competitive field of top female paddlers with a time of 1:08.30.
After an absence last year, Candice Appleby of San Clemente, Calif. was back at the Pier Paddle motivated, winning the women's 5.5-mile prone race with a time of 1:13:07. Appleby returned later to win the women's prone division of the PaddleCross race, before immediately returning to the start line for the SUP division of the PaddleCross race, where she also took the win.
"There aren't many events where you get to paddle three different kinds of paddle crafts in one day," said Appleby. "So much fun."
This was the first time that the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard races included PaddleCross, an exciting new sport in which racers paddled out through the surf and back to the beach around a short course and back to the beach. Top finishers advanced in an elimination round format until one victor in each category remained. In addition to Appleby's sweep of both prone and SUP women's PaddleCross, Mo Frietas of Hawaii won the men's SUP division and Shane Gallas won the prone category. The new event was a huge hit with spectators on the pier who lined up to cheer the racers in each heat.
"Every year the Pier Paddle has grown bigger and more exciting," said event founder Joel Brand. "The combination of athletic excellence in the water and on the beach, plus the diverse music and historical events on the pier deck, made this year's event one with something for everyone. I know I speak for our sponsors, our 100-person volunteer team and the pier ocean community when I say we were stoked so many people enjoyed themselves at the event today."
This was also the first year with a slate of special events just for kids, with dozens of young people from ages 5-17 competing in a beach run, a 250-meter open water swim, and two different paddleboard races.
"Tommy Bahama is so proud to be a part of an event that invites the entire community down to the pier to enjoy a day of fun in the ocean," said Rob Goldberg, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Tommy Bahama. "Our job is to help people make life one long weekend, and this event has all the ingredients like paddle boarding, live music and a festival atmosphere to let Southern California achieve that feeling."
There was also a lot of action up on the Pier deck, where seminal Ska act The Untouchables rocked a fired up post-event crowd with a set of favorites including their 1980's hits "Free Yourself" and "The General." Earlier in the day the performance stage swayed with the graceful moves of hula troupes from all over Southern California and the mellow sounds of Hawaiian slack-key guitar legend Jim "Kimo" West.
The Pier Paddle event is a benefit for Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and its public marine education facility, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium that is housed underneath the historic Pier Carousel. Heal the Bay will receive a portion of net proceeds from the event.