Amid a competitive field of almost 300 paddlers, Team Quickblade saw top finishers in the men’s and women’s Stand Up Paddling (SUP) field at yesterday’s Hanohano Huki race in San Diego, California. A multi-disciplinary paddle sport festival with its roots in the outrigger community, the Hanohano Huki currently lacks a dedicated elite division for SUP racing making the men’s 14’ and women’s 12’6” classes the de facto elite races.
Brandi Baksic, a respected endurance athlete from San Clemente, California brought home first place in the women’s race; the Quickblade Team Rider finished just over a minute ahead of her closest competitor. Using a new V-Drive paddle, Quickblade teammate Belar Diaz came in seven seconds behind a strong individual performance by Georges Cronsteadt of SIC to secure second place in the men’s 14’ class race. “It was a good sprint towards the end. A good race,” said Diaz, a native of Barcelona, Spain who now calls San Diego home. Admiring his new paddle, he commented, “It was definitely helpful in the sprint. The nice thing about the V-Drive is the catch. I felt like I was really in control and didn’t experience any cavitations.” Rounding out the top six were teammates Fernando Stalla (4th) and four-time Olympian Jim Terrell (6th), in the midst of fellow competitors Chance Fielder (3rd) and another Olympian, Sean Pangelinan (5th), from Guam. With the top 12 finishers in the men’s race all crossing the finish line within 31 seconds of each other, the men’s SUP race contributed an exciting atmosphere to the perennial winter series paddling event. “SUP is not a sideshow,” said Diaz. “We are becoming the main event.”