(SAN CLEMENTE, CALIF.)— In one of the most epic nights ever for the sport of standup paddling, the best athletes and filmmakers in the industry gathered for the ultimate celebration at the 2012 SUP Awards presented by Body Glove. More than 300 people crowded into the San Clemente Casino to celebrate and recognize the top male and female paddlers, expeditions, films and philanthropic efforts of 2012.
With SUP magazine Editor-at-Large Sam George emceeing, San Clemente's Candice Appleby received top honor as she was named Female Paddler of the Year, while Connor Baxter of Maui was awarded Male Paddler of the Year for the second consecutive year.
“I want to thank the other athletes- you inspire me,” Candice Appleby said in appreciation.
“I’m so stoked, this is amazing,” Connor Baxter said.
Also receiving recognition for their athletic achievements in SUP were Maui's Talia Gangini and Annabel Anderson of New Zealand, who were voted second and third in the women's category, as well as Maui boys Kai Lenny and Slater Trout, who came in second and third respectively on the men's side.
“I feel so honored,” said Kai Lenny. “It’s so cool to be part of a sport with so much aloha and such great people. This night makes me stoked to be part of it.”
Standup for the Cure was named Top Philanthropic Effort after raising the bar in fundraising and supporting breast cancer awareness through SUP. Filmmaker Brent Deal's H2Indo was named Movie of the Year, while the late Michele Baldwin's 700-mile pilgrimage down the holy Ganges received honors as Top Expedition in one of the more emotional moments of the evening.
“Michele’s goal was not just to be a person doing this, but to raise awareness,” said Michele’s mother, Ruth, who accepted the award on her behalf. “It was a sacred pilgrimage. Your sport allowed her to prepare to die,” Ruth said.
With the admiration and respect of the capacity crowd, Gerry Lopez was presented with the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport. His help in progressing standup paddling in the areas of design and events is unparallelled. Lopez has also helped bridge the gap between standup paddling and surfing.
“I was humbled by the thought,” Lopez said of his award. “There are lots of guys out there that deserve it more. I accept this award and hope it makes a difference in how we all think,” Lopez added. “Surf with aloha and live with aloha.”
The night featured an awesome display of talent across the board. With the presence of elite athletes, icons and top industry professionals, the 2012 SUP Awards was an historic event in the sport.
"We were blown away by the excitement of the crowd," says SUP magazine Editor Joe Carberry. "People were so pumped. It was truly a showing of the sports best, gathering in one room to celebrate the year. We are so proud to have been able to provide the venue."
Special thanks to our sponsors that made the second annual SUP Awards possible: BodyGlove, Kru Vodka, Kona Brewing Company and Futures Fins.
Visit SUPAwards.com and SUPtheMag.com for video coverage and photos from the 2012 SUP Awards.