Many of the world’s most elite paddleboard racers from as far away as Hawaii and Australia converged 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 more than four hundred people of all ages competed in more than a dozen different events.
Aussie pro-surfer and 10-time Molokai to Oahu paddle race winner Jamie Mitchell took advantage of a 24-hour travel layover between flights from Hawaii to Tahiti to dominate the field of 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.”
The women’s 5.5-mile stand up champ was Shae Fouly of San Juan Capistrano, beating a competitive field of top female paddlers with a time of 1:08.30.
Top finishers in the prone paddleboard category were men’s winner Shane Gallas of Manhattan Beach with a time of 1:06:58. After an absence last year, Candice Appleby of San Clemente was back at the Pier Paddle with a lot of energy. She won the women’s 5.5-mile prone with a time of 1:13:07 and then came back later in the day to win both the women’s standup and prone divisions of the paddlecross race.
“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 prone division and Shane Gallas won the SUP category. The new event was a huge hit with spectators on the pier who lined up to cheer the racers in each heat.
The day began early under overcast skies with a field of more than 100 swimmers hitting the water for the one-mile ocean swim. Ryan Bullock of Hermosa Beach won the men’s division by a huge lead with a time of 22:24.2. Leah Timmerman of Santa Monica took the women’s race with a time of 24.47.
And congrats to my buddy BRODY WELTE who made it to the SUP Cross Finals! You inspire me.
“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.
Presented by Tommy Bahama, the annual event is made possible by other major partners including Heal the Bay, Sierra Nevada, Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Beverages, Honest Tea, Arrowhead, Clif Bar, Suplove, Quickblade Paddles, Shore Hotel, ZJ Boarding House, Santa Monica Daily Press, World Paddle Association, KIIS-FM, ALT 987 FM, CityTV Santa Monica, Pacific Park, ProSUP Shop, and National Doryman’s Association.
For immediate access to media use images from the event, email [email protected]