May 11, 2015

2015 Jr Pro & Youth SUP Fiesta

11140763_10204186522770705_8619493428455562443_oSUP Fiesta 2015 was greeted with glassy 5 to 7 foot waves the morning of the contest. In its third year, this is the only SUP contest specifically for those age 17 and under. The event was held at Bolsa Chica State Beach, a few miles north of Huntington Beach Pier. Bolsa Chica is a beach break with powerful waves breaking both left and right.
The first events of the day were age group races on 12’6 standup paddle race boards. The race consisted of paddling out through the surf, around a buoy, and back to the beach. The youngest paddlers were assigned to water safety patrol swimmers equipped with wetsuits, flippers and red rash guards decorated with yellow lettering and the logos of the event sponsors. Watermen such as Zane Sweitzer, Rob Rojas, and John Alexiu made sure each grom made it safely through the impact zone. Parents on the beach cheered, prayed, and took pictures as some made it out easily, while others needed some help from their assigned safety swimmer. The courage these junior paddlers have is amazing considering that the 5-7 foot waves were truly overhead conditions for most of the competitors.
Days leading up to the event parents and athletes were talking of the coming south swell that was predicted to peak at 6-10 feet on the day of the event. As the swell approached, the forecast changed so that the waves peaked on the day after the event. Everyone including event organizers Candace Appleby and Anthony Vela were relieved but probably not as relieved as the parents. Thanks to the safety swimmers and the advanced skills of these junior paddlers, no one was hurt. There were a few dinged boards but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
It was amazing to watch these miniature athletes surf race boards back to the beach in waves that were easily 1 to 2 foot over their 5 foot frames. The entire cast of parents, judges, and safety personnel cheered for every paddler. The cheers were even louder when one of them rode a wave in all the way to the beach!!
11157529_10204185788032337_413339826062739747_oImmediately after the races, the sup surf heats began. The display of skill for kids so young is humbling to say the least. The use of their rail, paddle and their ability to judge waves was very evident to all on lookers. Mo Freitas placed first in SUP Surf for the guys and fellow Hawaiian Lara Claydon placed first in SUP Surf for the girls. Stayed tuned for the surf results by checking out and find the attached SUP race results.

Barry Blackburn