This past Saturday Isle had the fortune to rub elbows (along with paddles and rails) with the SUP community at the annual Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge here in Mission Beach/San Diego CA. With over 350 entries, the turnout was downright phenomenal. A giant hive of paddlers ready to do battle on the open water. From juniors, to seniors and all in between, everyone was eager to enjoy the uncommon summer like conditions in the dead of winter.
At 9:15, all racers gathered for a quick briefing before rushing to the best position at the starting line. Isle entered with 4 racers into the 12’6 class on our custom race model – Doug Pate, Craig Litty, Chad Holden and Sweet Jenny. We were dead center in the middle of all of the racers when the gun went off. The best way to describe trying to finagle your way through the cluster and mayhem is like trying to drive through a 50-car pileup during an earthquake. With riders of every level of experience some were bound to fall from the wake and turmoil created by 350 paddles. When you’re paddling full steam ahead and you see a downed rider, you try your best to avoid them (if help isn’t needed or course) and their equipment but when the next guy is 2ft from you in every direction, things get real personal, real fast.
Being that the race was 4.5 miles, at about the 1.5 mile mark, the herd started to thin out and become linear. For example, the first turn was about 25 racers wide, and toned down to about 3-4 after that. At that point the wake became manageable and the sun was making us earn those sweat beads across the face and back. What better place to paddle then our backyard in January when it was 72° out and not a cloud in the sky?! During stretches of the race we were able to locate some friends from the shore who grabbed some aerial footage from a DJI Phantom Drone with an attached GoPro. For those who haven’t seen these “R/C Angels”, you must look into them. They provide footage that would make Spielberg jealous. Trust us, you’ll be seeing more of this style filming from us in the near future.
All 4 Isle riders finished with smiles, laughs and some friendly trash talk with each other. Granted, we weren’t the fastest but we weren’t the slowest either. It’s a humbling experience to see exactly where you stand with your skills, fitness, and performance. Looks like it’s time to stop paddlesurfing and focus on distance! To make a long story short we had such a blast to experience this with so many other racers and kind hearted people. I can’t say enough about the pleasantries and the utter positive attitudes that people had at this event. It is truly unreal to see the tremendous growth within this sport – and it will only continue to get bigger from here on out. We hope to see some more Isle riders out there in 2015!
About the Author – Craig Litty the San Diego native, is the Operations Manager at Isle Surf & SUP. Joining the Isle team in 2009, Craig has been the voice on the other side helping thousands of our customers with any questions regarding Surf and SUP, his product knowledge is uncanny. Lit, Litty or Craigario as we call him has his foot in all athletics in and out of the water, and can be found at your local gym anytime he’s not at work.