Local athlete Danny Ching of Redondo Beach won the 2013 Paddle Royal today. Officially known as the San Juan SUP Cup, the sixth annual Paddle Royal was a multi day celebration of SUP held December 5-8, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The event was the year’s final large SUP race drawing competitors from around the world and Ching walked away with his trademark smile after a hard earned victory capped the 2013 SUP racing season.
The Paddle Royal was the first SUP racing event in the world to combine a long distance race, short course, and sprints to determine an overall men’s and women’s champion. The men’s and women’s champions each earned cash prizes of $7,000 and $4,000, respectively. (A significantly smaller women’s competitor field accounts for the difference.) This year’s long course was modified on the day of the race for safety reasons due to high winds and surf in the open ocean leg of the race. As a result, competitors enjoyed the wind at their backs for the first leg only to find themselves battling upwind the entire return journey to the finish line. Ching finished the long course in third place, but came out on top in the short course and sprints to claim the overall event title. Danny Ching now has back to back victories at the 2012 and 2013 Paddle Royal. Jake Jensen, a young gun out of Australia, finished with the same point total today, but Ching’s first place finishes in the short course and sprints were the decisive tie breaker which enabled him to successfully defend his title.
In addition to the Professional racing class, Elite Amateurs, Recreational Competitors, and Keiki (children) were each granted separate racing classes in which to participate and enjoy the spotlight. The multiple racing classes are one of the unique aspects of SUP racing and provide both amateurs and professionals the opportunity to enjoy the spirit of SUP together. If you are interested in easing into the racing side of SUP, the Pro SUP Shop in Marina del Rey hosts a monthly Sundowner Race the second Friday of each month. The event is jointly run by Pro SUP Shop and the Del Rey Yacht Club and provides a family friendly atmosphere where paddlers of all ages and experience levels are welcome to enjoy the evening together on the water.