Hundreds Compete in Santa Monica Pier Paddle Races

Hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators gathered Sunday to honor paddleboarding’s past and present at the Santa Monica Pier Paddle Race and Ocean Festival.

The event, sponsored by Honolua Surf Co., was part of the World Paddle Association’s championship qualifying series and featured some of the top paddlers in the country. The elite class paddlers raced on a 5.5 mile course which was won overall by Dialy Ndiaye with a time of 54:12. Lifeguard and prone paddler Anthony Vela was second overall with 54:31. Candace Appleby was the fastest woman, winning the women's elite prone paddle with a time of one hour four minutes and twenty seconds. Complete results will be posted at www.pierpaddle.com.

“Our company is all about supporting the traditions of these sports and of the waterman lifestyle,” said Pat Fraley, brand manger of Honolua, “This event was an example of all that and more.”

Paddlers in this year’s race ranged in age from 9-years old to people well into their seventies. Also present were a number of families with multiple generations who raced together. The Pier Paddle also showcased lifeguard dory races and an outrigger canoe competition.

“They were fantastic water races and a wonderful celebration of Santa Monica’s formative place in the evolution of paddleboarding, surfing and ocean lifesaving,” said Joel Brand, event director. “And it’s only going to keep getting better next year.”

While paddleboarding is exploding in popularity today, it has a long prior history, including a heyday in the 1940's when the Santa Monica Pier was a hub for racing. The sport disappeared for decades, eclipsed by surfing, only to be brought back to life with the innovation of stand up paddling, or SUP.
The Pier Paddle was a benefit for Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and its public marine education facility, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Heal the Bay will receive a portion of net proceeds from the event.

“Bringing paddle sports back to the Santa Monica Bay and the Pier is a wonderful measure of Heal the Bay’s 25-plus years of work to improve water quality,” said Randi Parent, public outreach specialist at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. “It’s gratifying that the paddle sports community has come together to support a cleaner, healthier bay for the benefit of us all, and particularly for the marine life.”

Event partners and sponsors include: Honolua Surf Co., Quickblade Paddles, Subaru of Santa Monica, Heal the Bay, ZJ Boarding House, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Daily Press, Rusty’s Surf Ranch, Mariasol Restaurant, Hawaiian Gun Rack, Positive Existence, H2O Audio, Clif Bar, SUP Connect, Coreban, Surftech, Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wilczy Studio, World Paddle Association, National Doryman’s Association, Marina del Rey Outrigger Canoe Club and Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club.

Photo: Stefano Paltera