Forget surfing and boogie boarding. The latest ocean craze in Hawaii — and around the world — is stand-up paddleboarding, and an upcoming Waikiki event stands ready to help clients ride that wave.
Paddleboarders competing in the Battle of the Paddle. // © 2010 Pat Huber
Called Battle of the Paddle Hawaii, the festival takes place at Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki on June 12-13. It includes a series of races for all ages and talents as well as an exposition and live concert.
A Sport Born in Waikiki
Stand-up paddle surfing began more than 50 years ago in Waikiki. The famed beach boys who taught visitors from around the world how to enjoy the waves discovered that if they combined the paddle of outrigger canoeing with a surfboard, they could remain high and dry with a great view of visitors in the water. This let them watch over and photograph surfing tourists, then make some extra money from the sale of the pictures.
The sport was reborn in earnest about five years ago and has since traveled not only internationally but also inland to rivers, lakes and streams, meaning that clients no longer need a wave to enjoy the thrill of riding a surfboard.
The upcoming Battle of the Paddle Hawaii event showcases every aspect of the sport, including the world's best stand-up paddle aficionados.
"The way the Battle of the Paddle races are set up makes for close, tight and exciting racing, whether you're in the water paddling or on the beach cheering,” said world champion paddleboarder Jamie Mitchell of Australia. “Add the best paddlers in the world, throw in some famous Waikiki summer surf and a course that traverses in and out of the surf zone, and the crowd can't help but get involved. It all makes for a very exciting race.”
Open to Paddlers of All Skills — and Spectators, Too
Patterned after the annual Battle of the Paddle at Doheny State Beach in California, the Waikiki event stands to attract more than 300 seasoned competitors vying for a $25,000 purse. At the same time, it presents a stand-up paddle festival for all skill levels and ages, including free children's races. At the exposition, clients can catch free demonstrations and clinics, meet the world’s best board shapers and manufacturers, and check out this summer’s latest designs and innovations, including boards and paddles available to try at no cost.
“Stand-up paddling is so accessible,” said Mitchell. “You can pretty much get anyone on a board and have them paddling, which is very difficult to do on a traditional surfboard. Being able to get up and paddle quickly makes it very attractive and exciting for first-timers.”
Everyone who enters Battle of the Paddle Hawaii receives a free pair of Rainbow Sandals, a T-shirt and lunch. A special welcoming event and concert featuring local musicians will be hosted by Quiksilver on the evening of June 11.
“To us, the nature of the sport is all about what we’ve come to know as the aloha spirit,” said Rainbow Sandals founder Jay Longley. “For that reason, we are ecstatic to bring the Battle of the Paddle to Hawaii for the first time this year."
Battle of the Paddle Hawaii