The first ever Standup Paddle race on Santa Catalina island was held Oct 1st and 2nd. The Catalina SUP Festival featured not only 2 days of racing with a unique race format, but all weekend Tahoe SUP provided the curious visitors and locals alike a chance to demo some of the new 2012 line of boards.
Revo Sunglasses and Catalina Island Company also had the evening activities covered, with 2 premieres of the E X P L O R E Project: Catalina Island episode. The fun kicked off on Friday night with the VIP premiere, as SUP industry folks along with all the event sponsors gathered for a cocktail party and private viewing of the movie at the Catalina Country Club. It was an awesome welcoming to the island, as riffs from a jazz ensamble filled the outside courtyard and sponsors SKYY vodka, Sierra Nevada brewery and Bacardi had the libations flowing. The Tahoe crew was buzzing with excitement to not only view for the first time the final edit but share the project with their peers in the industry. It was more than fitting to return to Catalina to unveil the adventure that took place some 7 months ago.
The Director of the movie, Zac Smith, of the Fuze Group Inc., the production company that shot and edited the project, introduced the film to the standing room only crowd. And they really got into it, hooting and clapping at some of the scenes and the stunning quality of footage captured by the Fuze Group. Two of the E X P L O R E Project paddlers, David Defoe and Ronnie Ayres did a short Q & A with the crowd that lingered to learn more about what inspired the project and where the group is headed next.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, the Tahoe SUP Demo booth was up and ready to go right on the beach in Avalon town. Southern California sales rep, Chris Dunham, along with Defoe, the Nor Cal rep, spearheaded the non stop action, sharing their enthusiasm and passion for SUP with the lucky paddlers.
Down the road on Descanso Beach, the Elite race field was putting on a show for the spectators as they paddled 3 heats in a row, scoring points to advance to the final to be held in the afternoon. Racers had about 15 minutes to recover from each heat and then back to the starting line to have at the short but technical sprint course with slalom buoys. Ronnie Ayres was in there mixing up with the pro field and was able to advance into the final.
”This format was a surprise to everyone and although it is really difficult on the athletes to recover quickly to be ready to go again, from a spectator stand point they are getting to see 3 intense starts, race and finishes in 1 hour,” shared Ayres. ”What I liked was that none of us got out of the water in between heats. Everyone just floated around in the water, cooling down and laughing about the scenarios that played out on the course.”
Ronnie would finish 14th in the final with deep field that awarded cash down to 10th place. ”We tried a new board design for this race and once I got used to it the speed was obvious,” said Ayres. ”This was my first ocean race of the year and I admittedly struggled with the conditions. Clearly I need to get my butt down to the coast more often!”
On Saturday night it was the public’s turn to watch the E X P L O R E Project, this time at Descanso Beach on the grassy lawn overlooking the race course. The Moonsville Collective band warmed up the crowd with their down home blend of folk, blues and rock as the celestral light show kept perfect time.
If the setting wasn’t idyllic enough, during the film, a small herd of deer wandered out onto the grass around the screen and became a surreal backdrop for the scenery and magic of the movie. Tahoe SUP founder, Nate Brouwer, nearly at a loss for words, spoke about the appeal of the E X P L O R E Project.
”We are not showcasing some remote location that requires an extreme skill set to access. This is something that everyone can do. Adventure can happen in your own backyard and our standup paddleboards give you a new perspective with endless possibilities.”
On Sunday the Tahoe SUP Demo booth again was brimming with activity, enough that Chris Dunham deemed the weekend the “most successful Demo weekend ever.” Big words from the big man who operates in the epicenter of the SUP industry.
A short and long course distance race was also held on Sunday that took paddlers down the scenic coastline to Long Point and back.
For the Tahoe SUP team of Jennifer Lehrer, Sierra Davidson, Ernie Brassard, Doug Erwin, Nate Brouwer, Chris Dunham, David Defoe, Ronnie Ayres and a host of assorted family and friends, the Catalina SUP Festival served as the perfect retreat to bring all the members together to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Catalina. A great time was had by all and the gang looks forward to next years event!
Click here to read the TransWorld Business article about the festival and premiere!