Danny Ching and April Zilg take top honors at the 2014 WPA Paddle Championships
Danny Ching and April Zilg walked away with victories in the SUP Pro Technical race at the 2014 WPA Paddle Championships held in St. Pete Beach, FL on October 24th and 25th. The WPA hosted the races in conjunction with the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Florida Sports Commission, Naked Turtle Rum, Salt Life Apparel, Cigar City Brewing and Hennessey’s Tavern Inc. There were approximately 250 entries in all races and the competitors enjoyed 85 degree, low humidity weather and the beautiful white sand beach at the Sirata Beach Resort on the Gulf of Mexico. The Open and Kids race competitors enjoyed light winds during both races early Saturday morning while the competitors in the SUP Pro Technical race battled 18-20 mph wind during their 6 mile split technical course Saturday afternoon. The 7.5 mile Distance race on Sunday greeted the competitors with favorable conditions of 2-4 mph wind while they raced up and down the coast of St. Pete Beach. The distance race welcomed all paddle classes and the turnout of OC1, OC2 and Surfski along with all SUP divisions was considerable.
Danny Ching from Redondo Beach, CA, considered the top paddler in the world on anything he paddles, earned his first WPA Championship after finishing second in the two previous WPA Championships hosted by Hennessey’s Tavern. Danny came to St Pete Beach to battle in the SUP Pro Technical race for the Salt Life Cup prize of $5,000 which would go to the winner who had accumulated the most points from all the WPA National Races during the 2014 season. Chase Kosterlitz, who entered the race as the Salt Life Cup standings leader, needed to finish the race no worse than 3rd if Danny won in order to walk away with the bonus. Danny finished 1st while Ryan Helm took 2nd. Chase finished in the much needed 3rd place and secured the $5,000 Salt Life Cup prize. Danny also won the OC1 title in the Distance race on Sunday and was 2nd overall behind Reid Hyle on a Surfski, which is considered a faster water craft. Danny came away winning $1,200 for his 1st place finish in the SUP Pro Technical race win and $500 for his efforts on the OC1 in the Distance race.
The WPA set up a split course for the Men’s and Women’s SUP Pro Technical race which allowed each competitor to decide whether they wanted to paddle on the right or left side of the course. The men paddled over five laps and the women paddled four laps. Most competitors chose the right side because of the wind angle and also because the left side wing buoy was dragging a bit during the race which made the left side slightly longer.
April Zilg from Wilmington, NC, came into the event as a darkhorse and while she ranks among the top women paddlers, Helga Goebel and Dani Schmidt were considered the two favorites to win the $3,000 Salt Life Cup bonus. April won the Women’s SUP Pro Technical race and by winning she secured the Salt Life Cup title by virtue of her win and Dani Schmidt finishing in fourth place. Dani needed to finish in third place to win the Salt Life Cup title, however Helga Goebel finished in second and Kimberly Barnes in third. April also came away with a victory in the Distance race by edging out Helga at the finish line by two seconds and Kimberly Barnes by ten seconds. April walked away with $3,000 for the Salt Life Cup bonus, $1,200 for the SUP Pro Technical race and $500 for the Distance race for a whopping total of $4,700 for a weekends pay.
Other great results were put out by Reid Hyle winning the overall and Surfski division over Randy Taylor in the Distance race, Gretchen Hines in Surfski Women, Danny Ching besting Jean Raas in OC1, Jennifer Peters in OC1 Women, JP Atherholt/Partner over Kaleb Cook/Christian Cook in OC2, Ami Marie Granger Welch/Partner in OC2 Women, Kim Caruso/Partner in OC2 Mixed, Mark Shen/Prone Unlimited, Mark Weinzierl/SUP Unlimited, Ryan Helm/14’ SUP, Jamie Twigg/12’6 SUP and April Zilg/12’6 SUP Women.
The WPA will be launching an official points and rankings division for the kids in 2015. They conducted their first WPA Kids Championships that included a 1 and 3 mile race for boys and girls in the age divisions of 8 & under, 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17. The competitors in the 3 mile race were able to compete on the same split course as the SUP Pro Technical race. John Willis finished first overall in the boys division of the 1 mile race and Kayleigh Sideris won in the girls division. The 3 mile race overall winner was Will Marston with Lexi Alston finishing second, both winning their 12-14 age division over Devin Foster and Mia Raffaele. Gracie Marston won the overall in the 9-11 age division. The Kids races will become one of the biggest classes allowing the sport of paddling to grow for the future. Congratulations to all of the Kids participants!
The complete 2014 WPA Paddle Championships results can be viewed by going to www.paddleguru.com/races. The overall results and Salt Life Cup final standing can be found on www.worldpaddleassociation.com. A huge thank you to all of the sponsors, St. Pete-Clearwater FL Sports Commission, Naked Turtle Rum, Salt Life Apparel, Cigar City Brewing and Hennessey’s Tavern for your support. The event would not have been a success without the amazing volunteers from the Hui Kai Wa’a Paddle Club and especially the efforts of WPA Regional Race Directors Rob & Karen Mirlenbrink and WPA Marketing Director Kristin Artz.
Look for upcoming announcements with the WPA/Salt Life Cup National Race Series, WPA Regional Race Series and the 2015 WPA Paddle Championships. For more information with Sponsorship Opportunities and Media Relations please contact Kristin Artz, WPA Public Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org.