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Paddling in paradise at the third annual Stand Up for Clean Water SUP race

Overhead view of the third annual Stand Up for Clean Water SUP race in Paradise Cove, Malibu
Overhead view of the third annual Stand Up for Clean Water SUP race in Paradise Cove, Malibu
Los Angeles Waterkeeper

The third annual Stand Up for Clean Water SUP race went off without a hitch this past weekend at Paradise Cove in Malibu. With a record crowd of approximately 180 competitors, this year’s event was bigger than ever. “We are really happy with the event and how everything turned out,” said Rick Hardy, Property Manager for Paradise Cove. “It was such a great group of people and we are looking forward to hosting again next year.”

Stand Up for Clean Water is an annual benefit for the Los Angeles Waterkeeper, an environmental non-profit working to raise awareness for the need to protect the regional watercourse. The group relied on an extensive network of volunteers to plan and coordinate the day’s festivities and earlier today the Waterkeeper’s Communications Manager announced the event raised a total of $35,000. “I couldn't have asked for a better team to work with and I look forward to working with you again in the future,” said Rachel Stich in a message to the volunteers after the event.

Low clouds hung overhead early in the morning as the team of volunteers and Waterkeeper staff began setting up the venue. Not long after the first vendors began to arrive and erect their tents, the marine layer began to pass and clear blue skies welcomed the competitors to the iconic Southern California locale. Among the first to arrive on scene was SIC Maui and Quickblade Paddles. Jim Terrell was accompanied by 10 time Molokai – Oahu paddleboard champion, Jamie Mitchell, who later put his paddling acumen on display, charging his 14’ SUP to a second place overall finish after the ever dominant Thomas “Maximus” Shahinian led the pack on his unlimited board in the five mile course.

The festival officially got underway with a colorful Hawaiian tribute as a troupe of hula dancers performed on the sand at the start line. Team SIC’s Lina Augaitis led the women’s field in the five mile course by a wide margin as the proud Lithuanian-Canadian added another victory on the year before heading out the following day to Abu Dhabi for the next stop in Stand Up World Series Tour.

In addition to the races, Justin Van Dyck of XSUP fame hosted a demo of his thrilling new game played while paddling a SUP. The on the water adaptation of hockey / ultimate frisbee incorporates a floating sock-type product which is tossed with your paddle to a teammate. It is much more challenging than it appears and the quick maneuvers required to outflank your opponents proved to be a fantastic way to perfect your pivot turns.

One of the feel good aspects of local SUP races is the community participation and the welcome atmosphere extended to newcomers and seasoned veterans. Stand Up for Clean Water was no different, as a number of paddlers took to the ocean for the first time in the short course, including the Waterkeeper’s own Liz Crosson, the Executive Director from their Santa Monica office. After the conclusion of the races, competitors were treated to a waterside buffet of fresh paella and chowder, courtesy of the Paradise Cove Beach Café, as an all-star composition of musicians from the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and more rocked the enthusiastic crowd assembled on the sand beneath the famed Malibu cliffs.

For complete race results, see SUP4cleanwater.org.