Pacific Paddle Games: Day One Recap

Shuri Araki, Pacific Paddle Games, SUP Examiner, SUP Racing,

The 2017 Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life

The Pacific Paddle Games kicked off Saturday, September 30 in Dana Point, California. Weather conditions were perfect Saturday as paddlers from all over the world descended upon Doheny State Beach to compete for the $60,000 prize purse at the biggest event in SUP.

“It was an action-packed first day of the Pacific Paddle Games,” Salt Life president Jeff Stillwell said. “The Pacific Paddle Games are the pinnacle of excellence in this growing sport, and we are proud to return for the third year as the presenting sponsor of the biggest event in SUP. Good luck to all of the athletes on day two, including several of our own Salt Life team members.”

The competitive action kicked off with the Beginner Youth Super Grom Race, with 11 year-old Malaya Ring of Dana Point taking first place. In the 12-14 Boys Technical Division, Shuri Araki and Rai Taguchi, who both traveled to #PPG2017 from Okinawa, took first in their heats to clinch the division for Japan. Malaya Ring took the 11&U Girls Technical, while the top two finishers in the 12-14 Girls Technical — Sonia Caimari (first) and Duna Dordillo (second) came all the way from the Spanish island of Mallorca. Tahitian powerhouse Aroti Siaon Chin took the 15-17 Boys Technical Division to cap off the Youth Technical rounds and set a high bar for the adults’ Technical Races to come.

After the groms came the Open Technical qualifiers—the largest single division with 215 registered athletes. With only the first 16 finishers advancing from each the Men’s and Women’s Technical Finals, the paddlers had their work cut out for them weaving through the mob around the three-mile course in the surf.  

The Pro Prone division made their presence known with incredible speed and endurance, with returning PPG prone champ Matt Poole and Australian Lizzie Welborn out paddling the competition. Small three-to-four wave sets came through every few minutes as 117 of the world’s fastest male and female paddlers hit the water for the Pro Technical Quarterfinals. First-place finishers among the men included the Australian Lincoln Dews, California’s Danny Ching, Denmark’s Casper Steinfath and Australian Trevor Tunnington, with Steinfath claiming the day’s fastest time in 18 minutes 51 seconds.

The ladies closed out the Pro division with the Women Technical Semifinals. Two-time PPG champion Candice Appleby set out with higher-power to claim an early lead and hold it for a comfortable win ahead of runner-up Fiona Wylde.The second Pro Women’s heat went to the resounding favorite, New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson.

For the last races of the day—the Open Technical Finals—Open racers took to the Pro Technical course for the first time in PPG history. It came down to tight finishes with Maryland’s Brian Meyer and San Clemente’s own Jennie Sandvig scooping up first-place medals in this exhibition match.



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