Dana Point inhabits a special place in the pantheon of paddling locales. After SUP re-emerged in its present form on Maui, SUP made landfall in Southern California, much like surfing had a half-century earlier. A perfect storm of board-builders, water athletes, surf culture and waves made for the ideal place for the sport to take root on the mainland.

Today, Southern California—and especially Dana Point—is one of the world's paddling epicenters. The sport has blossomed here, grown here and will continue to thrive here. That’s why we decided to continue the rich tradition of surf racing here for another year with the Pacific Paddle Games, presented by Salt Life, at Doheny State Beach September 30 through October 2.

To start, there are the board-builders. Guys like Ron House, the Boehne Clan (Infinity) and the Riviera crew are all in the immediate area churning out some of the best boards in the business. Those boards are tested in the local waters from the downwinder from Dana Point proper down to San Clemente or at the surf haven of San Onofre or touring in Laguna Beach.

Then there's the harbor. Once the site of the infamous Killer Dana wave under the towering Dana Point headland, the harbor is now a haven for paddlers of all stripes from elite locals like Candice Appleby, Dave Boehne, Thomas Maximus, Chuck Patterson and a rotating cast of traveling pros to first-time standup paddlers to outrigger teams. If you want to train, this is the place to do it.

And what really adds to the prestige of the area is its history. Besides the rich surf lore of the area including the proximity of Trestles and San Onofre and the shapers mentioned above, The Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle established Doho as the premiere surf race venue in the sport. The event’s tenure legitimized the entire competitive discipline of SUP racing. Last year the Pacific Paddle Games were held during a weekend of perfect surf and sunshine to kick off the inaugural event. We’re hoping for the same this year.

“Doheny is the perfect spot for a SUP race,” says Colin McPhillips, a professional standup paddler and three-time longboard surfing world champion. “Its got different reefs that break on tides and swell, and it offers a stadium-like feel while your racing. It’s got everything rolled into one place, awesome racing for the pros, and a perfect introductory area for first-timers.”

McPhillips grew up in San Clemente, the town that borders Dana Point to the south and has lived in the area for 40 years.

Another local that will be competing at the Pacific Paddle Games is 17-year-old Max Fleming.

“Dana Point captures the essence of the Golden State; good surf, beautiful beaches, the harbor, really good food and great people,” Fleming says. “From sunrise to sunset you will see cars with every type of watercraft attached heading to the Harbor or to their favorite beach to launch or surf at. Dana Point is the perfect all-around waterman’s destination.”

No need to take his word for it. Come check out the Pacific Paddle Games on  September 30 in Dana Point.

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The Pacific Paddle Games have no association or relationship with the former event known as Battle of the Paddle owned by Rainbow Sandals.