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Paddles and passions reign at the 2014 Mongoose Cup

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Not long after the final horn had sounded and vendors began disassembling their tents, I sat down with Mickey Muñoz and asked him what his favorite part of the day had been. “Watching the kids,” he said without hesitation. “They are the future of our sport.” Saturday’s Fifth Annual Mickey Muñoz Mongoose Cup was about more than winning. It was a celebration of life. A time to remember friends past and greet new acquaintances by welcoming them into the community of stand up paddlers.

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The day began with a moving tribute to the late Bob Risner as a decorated double hulled canoe led paddlers in a memorial paddle out in his honor. Green was Bob’s favorite color and Quickblade Paddles took the lead on an initiative to have commemorative ‘Live Like Bob’ t-shirts available for the price of a small donation to Bob’s memorial charity. Following the memorial paddle out, a flotilla of over 100 paddlers slowly made their way down Dana Point Harbor’s main channel for the Wounded Warrior Project Paddle around Harbor Island. The festive atmosphere of participants radiated throughout the procession as the sun shined brightly in the clear blue sky above.

Shortly after the return of the Wounded Warrior Project paddlers to Baby Beach, the event’s clinics and demos began. Approximately 40 participants gathered around Jim Terrell, the founder of Quickblade Paddles, as he staged a dry land paddle stroke clinic on the beach. “Paddling is an all body sport,” said Terrell, while paddlers eagerly shuffled for the best view of the four-time Olympian as he stood atop a SUP mounted on a platform above the sand. “The better you are able to engage all of your muscles, the faster [and more efficiently] you are going to paddle.” Nearby at the water’s edge, the Performance Paddling team of Candice Appleby and Anthony Vela instructed paddlers on race techniques – focusing on the critical disciplines of starts and buoy turns. The emphasis on these two aspects of SUP racing is vital, as moving up a position during a race typically proves to be a challenging endeavor when paddling along a straightaway.

I spoke with John Schuck, a Dana Point local who paddles out from Baby Beach five times a week, about the clinics. Schuck told me he learned some new tips from Jim Terrell’s paddle stroke demonstration. The switch – where paddlers change hands and paddle on the opposing side – was his biggest take away. “I learned how to change hands with more fluidity by sliding my hand up [the paddle’s shaft],” he said.

While some attendees took in paddling tips and techniques from the industry’s finest, others seized the opportunity to test their flexibility at the Indo Board and SUP yoga clinics. Michelle Gierst from Olympus SUP Fit in Redondo Beach joined Lauren Peterson, Suzanne Yeo and Julie Roach to lead a world class SUP yoga clinic for newcomers and experienced SUP yogis alike. XSUP, the on the water adaptation of hockey, was a hit as was the level of participation at the Adaptive Paddling clinic – both new editions to the offerings at this year’s Mongoose Cup. "Events like this are great because they provide an equal balance of fun for everyone," said Anthony Scaturro, from SIC Maui.

Just after noon, Barrett Tester and the event’s organizers elevated the excitement factor to the next level with the commencement of the men’s and women’s Sport of Kings SUP races. Competitors charged through a short technical course consisting of three buoy turns in the flat water off Baby Beach before finishing with a short sprint up the soft sand to the finish line. The races were organized in 12 person elimination heats with 50 percent of the field advancing towards the finals. Casper Steinfaith, the dynamic Dane from Team Quickblade, swept the men’s field by winning every heat through the finals. On the women’s side, Dana Point’s hometown girl Shae Foudy brought home a victory for Team Riviera in front of the boisterous crowd of spectators.

Results for each division are as follows:

Sport of Kings Men

  1. Casper Steinfaith
  2. Sean Pangelian
  3. Noa Hopper
  4. Greg Closier
  5. Karl Ring
  6. Jeremy Vaine
  7. Brendon Light
  8. Brian Hagg
  9. Trevor Bashor

Sport of Kings Women

  1. Shae Foudy
  2. Sarah Messina
  3. Aleanna Clark
  4. Christie Shoemaker
  5. Diane Wenzel
  6. Melissa Hillis
  7. Mel Plunkett
  8. Loraine Gruber
  9. Maggie Adams

In addition to the Sport of Kings Races, competitors had the opportunity to mix it up during the Luck of the Draw relay. Elite athletes joined paddlers of all experience levels in a thrilling competition while paddling out from the beach around two buoys. Highlighting the day, however, was the kid’s race. Young groms and grommets each battled it out in around a technical course of three buoy turns. Candice Appleby dedicated much of her time that day to work with others and was there coaching Malaya Ring, a new member of the Performance Paddling Competition Team, at the start line. Despite their age, the kids were no less competitive as they executed their turns with precision. Many manufacturers are now producing equipment specifically for younger paddlers and it was fantastic to see the high level of participation among the next generation of SUP athletes.

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