Hanohano Ocean Challenge Recap
Written by Mike Wang (owner of Mike's Paddle)
Once a year hundres of paddlers (SUP, OC, Surfski and Prone) descend upon Mission Beach, San Diego, to attend one of the largest paddle race in the country. Hosted by the Hanohano Outrigger Club, it’s an amazing event with all the SoCal racers plus many folks traveling as far as NorCal, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and even Candana & Mexico! It has become a truly Pan West Coast Race over the years. And since many of the top manufacturer teams are based in SoCal, you have some high caliber paddlers from Starboard, SIC Maui, Quickblade, Infinity, and 404 as well as many very competitive amateur paddlers who have been training hard during the pandemic. I felt like it’s THE race to go during winter when it’s too cold everywhere else.
Surprisingly a very local race drew 700 paddlers! The short course was for SUP only (~5 miles) with some very wide turns, currents, around Disney Vacation Island and a very exciting finish. There were 165 stand up paddlers (the rest were OC & Surfski), 124 boards were 14’, 27 were 12’6 and only 13 under 12’6. Clearly 14’ boards have progressed to the dominant race length these days. Kudos for the organizers to still recognize the other classifications but it’s clear that 14’ are here to stay and going to the standard lengths in the future.
With so many great paddlers and local favorites I did some analyzing of the top ten mens and womens and wanted to show you how wonderful these folks are!
Top 5 Womens:
Candice Appleby – the Queen of SUP continue to surprise us with so many years of racing history and is still on top. How does she does she do it? Her Ocean Academy continues to train and develop young and adult athletes and we wish her and the Infinity SUP Team the best in 2023.
April Zilg – Many of us remember April’s early careers up and downs and she really persevered through hardship and have finally peaked in her paddling career (and more to come). April has also stared her own coaching business and she's an amazing one! She was less than 2 minutes behind Candice and I’m sure she’s going to make it up at another race this season. We whish her and the 404 team the best in 2023.
Lindsay Weidner – Lindsay is not a full time profession paddler. A RN by day and also pro by night! She’s not only a charger in race and surf, she also teaches yoga! Here’s what I mean by “amateur” paddlers being on the heels of pros – she was only 4 minutes behind April Zilg.
Soryn Preston – Under 14 being 5th in such a competitive race is definitely not an under achievement! Soryn, sponsored by SIC Maui, paddles race, surf and outrigger. She’s an all around athlete to watch for. Plus she has a dedicated dad who takes her to every race and training as well as having Canidce Appleby as a mentor and friend, so her future is bright!
Madeline Leblanc – A ray of sunshine usually accompany this bright and funny Canadian paddler from Toronto. She’s staying SoCal for the winter to train and escape the Canadian Winter. You can find her on a sail boat in San Clemente ready to paddle anytime. Maddi (how she calls herself) is one of the top Canadian Starboard SUP paddlers and have amazing background for teaching, racing and surfing. Look for her in the international competitions!
Honorable Mentions Top 10 Womens:
Samantha Eastburn (founder of SUP Pups) – if you have haven’t met this fireball of a person, go take one of her classes. She’s an amazing teacher, funny, exciting and patient on top of being an all around athlete in all board sports.
Kristin Thomas (OG racer/surfer and USA SUP board member) – What can I say that no one else know about Kristin? She’s THE most vocal advocate for our sport. Sponsored by Infinity SUP - she's still one of the best racers in the US!
Anik Wild (owner of Tahoe Waterman’s Landing): along with her amazing husband Jay Wild, they run a great paddle shop, OC club, and a café! Tahoe is a tough place to operate and train but they’ve managed to make it their passion and career. We wish them the best!
Katie Kasprzyk and Terri Plunkett (top ten with a 12’6) are all regular paddlers in the race scene, and we would love to hear more about them as we do more member related interviews!
Top 5 Men’s
Danny Ching – If Canidce is “Queen”, Danny certainly deserve the “King”s title (at least in SoCal). Adept in many watercrafts, Danny still brought it home sprinting past Bodie at the end and won the race by 7 seconds. Another paddler over 40 and with kids is peaking at his performance give us all inspiration and motivation to do better as we age. SUP is certainly sustainable as a life time sport. We wish Danny and his 404 brand the best in 2023!
Bodie Von Allmen – Bodie, from Oregon, has taken the SUP world by storm in the last couple of years, racking up various medals in different races. It’s amazing to see that Bodie still just 17 years old and is competing in open levels and winning them. As a SIC Maui rider, he’s certainly brought a lot of attention to the SIC RS!
Thomas Nielsen – Another young paddler coached under the umbrella of the Paddle Academy has made several debuts in local races. Coming a few seconds after Bodie is no small feat!
Riley Jaggi – Riley, another under 19 paddler, has risen to the 4th place in such a competitive race. Sponsored by 404, Riley races, surfs, OC, and is still attending college. We wish him the best in his future endeavors!
Dan Miller – Dan Miller is no stranger to the race scene with tons of race, foiling, prone and whitewater racing experience. In addition, he's a Doctor! Sponsored by NSP, he came all the way from Canada to this race.
Honorable Mentions Top 10 Mens
Pete Gauvin: always my local favorite in the SF Bay Area, was only 45 seconds behind Dan Miller. Paddling an old school 404 and over 50, he’s still at the top of his shape and we love him for it.
Rafael Apodaca: Rafa is one of the best paddlers from Mexico. Living in Sayulita, he regularly comes to SoCal and NorCal to compete and support his Sayulita Junior SUP Team. We are so inspired that he trains not only those who can afford it but also local kids who can’t and getting them into the sport early. Kudos Rafa!
Paul Pianowski: You can always find Paul paddling in SoCal with all the regulars. He’s intro on Facebook: One day I went Stand-Up Pddle Boarding THE END. ‘Nuff said. We love you Paul.
Ian Connor: Being an all around amazing athelete (Colorado waterman), Ian does it with grace in sup race, wing, surf, whitwater sup and many other disciplines. He’s also so generous that he brought a starboard for Maddi Leblanc from Canada to use for the race so she that she can get to the top 5!
Sean Pangelinan: We don’t always see Asian Americans being front and center represented in paddling sports, but Sean represented Guam in two Olympics at flatwater canoe sprinters. Sean is also an amazing personal trainer (owner and trainer at the Fit Lab) and still paddling at top shape! Coming in the top ten is a great accomplishment. We wish him the best in 2023!