Anthony Vela and Candice Appleby Dominate Pier Paddle Race

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Today’s Santa Monica Pier Paddle Race and Ocean Festival elite class race was dominated by the power paddle couple from San Clemente, Anthony Vela and Candice Appleby.

Jeff Berting Pier Paddle

Photo by Jeff Berting

Vela won the men’s elite class 5.5 mile course with an overall time of 1:00:23, besting 2nd place Kyle Power of Agoura by 23 seconds. Defending champ Appleby scored her win with a 1:14:12, about two minutes ahead of 2nd place Brandi Baksic (also of San Clemente).

Complete finish-line results will be posted at pierpaddle.com tomorrow.

From the Santa Monica Pier Paddle Race and Ocean Festival:

Thousands of spectators gathered Sunday to watch some of the best watermen and waterwomen in the world compete at the 2012 Santa Monica Pier Paddle Race and Ocean Festival sponsored by Honolua Surf Company and Pacifico Beer. Spectators lined the railing of the pier throughout the day as racers navigated higher-than-normal surf at the start and finish lines. Competitive events this year included the long coarse paddle, short course fun paddle, one-mile ocean swim and the run-swim-run. Visitors to the festival were also treated to live music, hula dancing and dozens of vendors and historic exhibitors.

“Our company is all about supporting the traditions of these sports and of the waterman lifestyle,” said Pat Fraley, brand manager of Honolua Surf Co., “we’ve been involved in this event since the very beginning and we’re glad to see the Pier Paddle has grown every year.”

Paddlers in this year’s race ranged in age from 9-years old to well in people into their seventies. Also present were a number of families with multiple generations who raced together. The Pier Paddle also showcased lifeguard dory races.

A number of legendary figures from surfing and paddleboarding’s past were present. Jericho Poppler, surfing’s first Women’s International Professional Surfing Champion in 1976, raced stand-up paddle and placed first in her age-class today in the 2-mile fun paddle. Also on-site sharing stories her stories of paddling’s early days in Santa Monica was Esther Maire Lorenz, who won the US National Paddleboarding Championships at the pier back in 1947. “I think this is wonderful to see paddling coming back like this,” said Lorenz, “I just think there should be even more races.”

While paddleboarding is exploding in popularity today, it had a long prior history, including a heyday in the 1940s when the Santa Monica Pier was a hub for racing. The sport disappeared for decades, eclipsed by surfing, only to be brought back to life with the innovation of stand up paddling, or SUP.

The Pier Paddle was a benefit for Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and its public marine education facility, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Heal the Bay will receive a portion of net proceeds from the event.

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