The fifth annual Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race and Ocean Festival returns this Saturday, June 7.
The 2013 Pier Paddle stood out for having the largest surf of any of the previous years when an uncharacteristically large summer swell sent 10-foot waves crashing onto Santa Monica Beach.
The huge surf cranked up the excitement for participants in the events, and for the thousands of spectators who lined the pier screaming with excitement every time competitors came in or out through the surf zone.
The swell peaked just in time for the Tommy Bahama Cup, a relay race that required teams of four to sprint out through the surf, around a short course of buoys and back to the beach as quickly as possible before handing off to the next team member.
“The Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival is a really special signature event that blends the Pier’s long history with contemporary trends in action sports and fitness,” said S. Jay Farrand, administrator of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation. “Between the entertainment, the family activities and the epic competition, it really takes advantage of the whole environment.”
Tommy Bahama, the popular beach lifestyle brand, will return for the second year as the presenting sponsor.
This year, the all day event will feature an expanded slate of new events, including, most notably, a multi-round Tommy Bahama Paddlecross competition where racers sprint out through the surf, around a short quarter to half-mile course, and back to the beach.
The top half of each heat moves forward in elimination rounds until one racer in each class is champion.
On the pier deck, manufacturers will show off the latest in paddleboards and equipment.
Historic exhibits will feature antique surfboards, paddleboards, lifeguard equipment and vintage automobiles tied to local beach culture.
Paddleboard racing was a popular Santa Monica sport in the 1940s with two paddleboard clubs headquartered on the pier. Hula dancers will perform throughout the day.
Live music and an awards ceremony will follow the completion of the races for the top finishers in each of the divisions.
For more information, visit www.pierpaddle.com.