SUP Community Comes Together at Paradise Cove

SUP Community Comes Together at Stand Up for Clean Water

Attendees Paddle and Party On Despite Heavy Winds

TBoyd_160416_16986-EditPhoto courtesy of Tom Boyd

Over 500 racers, beachgoers and supporters joined Los Angeles Waterkeeper on April 16 at Paradise Cove in Malibu for our 5th annual Stand Up for Clean Water paddleboard race, a Waterkeeper Alliance SPLASH Event presented nationally by Toyota and locally by Whole Foods Market of Venice.

What started and ended as a beautiful day at Paradise Cove, however, got dicey in the middle as unusually high Santa Ana winds kicked up during the day’s first race. “Many competitors were compelled to drop to their knees and even lie down and prone paddle,” reported Matt Chebatoris. Thankfully, potential disaster was averted due to quick thinking and community action.

The most experienced paddlers – those who were leading the 5-mile race – realized the danger posed by the winds and chose to aid struggling paddlers rather than continue to compete. LAW’s 24-foot Radon boat, on the water to help set the course, rescued 8 paddlers. Several additional competitors were assisted by LA County lifeguards and other volunteer boats that joined on the water. Paddlers who made it to shore against the strong headwinds were greeted by nearly everyone on the beach, who gathered to help our race directors account for all the competitors.

“I am truly thankful to the entire community that came together to make sure nobody was seriously hurt,” noted Waterkeeper’s Executive Director Bruce Reznik. “While no official awards were given out at this year’s event, everyone who attended is a champion in my eyes.”

Undaunted, attendees rallied to celebrate with Waterkeeper, even getting back on the paddle boards later in the day after everyone was safely accounted for and the winds calmed.

12957495_588117821359572_8237516750103825052_oPhoto courtesy of OnIt.Pro

The day started off innocently enough, as Malibu Mayor Laura Rosenthal welcomed nearly 250 eager paddlers around 9:30am, when the 5-mile Open Race kicked off. Shortly after competitors hit the water and raced toward the first turning point, however, the winds picked up, necessitating the race’s cancellation.

Refusing to let nature interfere with a great time, everyone came together to celebrate our beautiful coast as the beach party kicked into high gear. Enjoying live music from Alicia Murphy, The Originalites and L A River Bend, attendees were treated to Bob Morris’ famous seafood paella donated by Paradise Cove Beach Café, vegan paella from Marmalade Café, hot dogs from Tail o’ the Pup, and fruit bowls courtesy of our Premiere Sponsor Whole Foods Market of Venice. After a challenging day on the water, paddlers appreciated refreshing organic coconut water from EarthCoco, craft beer from Ninkasi Brewing, and fresh margaritas and tequila-infused popsicles courtesy of Patrón!

IMG_5599Photo courtesy of Tim Horton

The winds finally calmed around noon, and with many paddlers anxious to get back out on the water, emcee Anthony Vela rallied the crowd for unofficial and untimed kids and team relay races. Spectators gathered to watch the informal races, while other attendees visited paddle expo booths and participated in our raffle that included wonderful items like a Laird SUP board, Brawner long board, Oliver Peoples sunglasses, and more. Guests stopped by the LAW booth throughout the day to stay hydrated and learn about our work to protect our coastal waters and inland waterways.

After some time on the water, guests enjoyed the formal event program. Waterkeeper Alliance (WKA) President, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., captivated the crowd as he told the inspiring story of WKA’s inception in the 1960’s, growth and success as the fastest growing environmental movement in the world. Longtime event sponsors Denise Chow of LA Sanitation and Karen Matsuyama of Toyota discussed their commitment to sustainability and Stand Up For Clean Water, while LAW’s Executive Director, Bruce Reznik, introduced our work and the connection between this event and the Marine Protected Area (MPA) on which the race occurs.

Vela brought the program to a close as he announced the lucky winners of our raffle items – including diving lessons from Malibu Divers, surf lessons from Maui & Sons, a set of reusable glass straws from the sustainable Simply Straws, and clothing from Patagonia, to name a few! 

_DSC4973Photo courtesy of Adam Amengual

Stand Up For Clean Water is not only a great excuse to spend a day at the beach and on the water, but it also serves to educate our community about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and raise funds to support LAW’s work to protect these precious areas. Compared to our state or national parks on land, MPAs are areas of the ocean with particular biological significance where consumptive human activities, such as fishing, are restricted in order to protect or conserve marine life or habitats. Non-consumptive activities are allowed and even encouraged on MPAs. We hold our annual SUP race along the Point Dume MPA to showcase the importance of enjoying and maintaining these areas.

LAW thanks all of our amazing sponsors, underwriters, volunteers, racers, and everyone who came out to make Stand Up For Clean Water such a success.

“This was truly an event I doubt anyone will forget,” added Reznik, “not for the winds that altered the event, but for the resiliency and incredible spirit of the paddle community in overcoming those challenges. I speak for everyone who is part of the LAW family to say I hope we see everyone again next year!”

Check out the photos here!

LAWK poster

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