A few years ago during the open ocean swim race at the South Bay Dozen in Redondo Beach, California, Anthony Vela chased down a small bump just as it began to form and rode the wave all the way to the beach – beating the pack by a considerable margin. “The man is like a dolphin”, said Mike Vaughan, owner of Pro SUP Shop in Marina del Rey and a fellow competitor that day. This Friday night the international recognized waterman will be accompanied by young gun Matt Becker when the two drop in at the Del Rey Yacht Club as celebrity guests at the club’s monthly Sundown SUP Race.
The Del Rey Yacht Club, a pillar of the sailboat racing community in Southern California, made the decision to add Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) races to their monthly race schedule as a way to demonstrate the club’s support for the popular new sport. According to a statement from the club, “In 2013 the DRYC Race Committee was approached by interested members about adding another category to the multi-class Sundown Series races. They too wanted to partake in the calm waters of the marina and race under Del Rey Yacht Club.” In what may have been a prelude to this year’s SUP racing season, it was Englishman Ollie Shilston who arrived first at the Del Rey Yacht Club. Shilston was in Los Angeles this past December picking up a pair of new SUP race boards from the highly regarded local shaper Joe Bark. His visit coincided with the club’s December race and he seized the opportunity to try out one of his new boards in California waters before heading home to his native Cornwall.
“I’m always inspired at the local races to see who is out there paddling,” said Anthony. “Local racing is important for everybody. It gives elite athletes a chance to race and meet athletes in the local area and provides local paddlers something to gauge themselves off of. Local races give us a chance to give back. It is not about going out and winning, it is about taking part,” he said.
The Del Rey Yacht Club’s Sundown Race is held the third Friday of each month. Visit dryc.org for the complete racing schedule and details of the event.