Pacific Paddle Games - What was it like for the rest of us?

[By now you have seen recaps of the elite races. Looked at photos of the most crazy wipe-outs, and we have heard about how the pros came to play (and did not disappoint in the least). But our mantra at Cali Paddler is to Be EPIC (Every Paddler in California). And so we took the chance to get a recap from 'one of us' for this special 1st annual event that is being described as California's SUP and Prone World Stage. Read first-hand from Maggie Adams, founder of Blue Paddle SUP, about the Pacific Paddle Games held in Dana Point this past weekend. Thank you Maggie for your great interview below!]

CP: Hi there Maggie! First off, congrats on some GREAT racing you had this past weekend. What races did you do and what were your conditions like?
Maggie: I did both the Open 3 mile Techinical & Distance race. The surf was pumping-overhead sets (6ft+), lots of side chop during both races, and some head wind during the technical race. Temperatures were in the 90s. The technical race ended up being more like 4.5 miles, so I wish I had taken water with me! Note to self, always take water!

Three (of the many) stoked paddlers

CP: Outside of your races, what were some of the other ones that took place that were unique or special?
Maggie: It was super exciting to see all the groms racing this year. I think the youngest was Trevor Mencinsky at 7 yrs. old. Amazing watching these kids charge the surf.  Also unique to this event was a separate prone technical & distance race.

CP: This is the first time the event was has been billed as the replacement for Battle of the Paddle, which is quite a high bar to match. Can you share how it compared? How was the venue, the race and points structure, pro and open competition level.

I'm fairly new to the SUP race scene. I have only been racing for 2yrs. I did attend the BOP the last 2yrs. Seeing it back at Doheny is fantastic. I was going to do the BOP last year, but when I saw the surf at Salt Creek I backed out. Doheny has plenty of parking, and the vendors & racers are in close proximity to each other. So the vendors can watch the races, & spectators & racers can visit the vendors-pick up or buy some swag! This year there was the Manufacturer Team Challenge. This pits industry brand teams against each other, so whichever manufacturer accumulated the most points won a huge trophy & free advertising with SUP the Mag! This year the winner was Riviera (shown below) with over 11,000 pts. All the pros were at the Pacific Paddle Games-Candice Appleby, Annabel Anderson, Fiona Wylde, Danny Ching, Kai Lenny, Chuck Glynn just to name a few! I was super stoked to watch them battle it out around the buoys with in coming surf sets!

CP: What were some of the best storylines of the weekend? Inspirational efforts, gnarly wipe-outs, epic finishes?
Maggie: I think the biggest storyline of the week was the surf. Did you look at Surfline? I was looking at Surfline, Magic Seaweed, SolSpot, & Surf-Forecast. They were all saying the same thing-OVER HEAD SURF! Over head surf means at least 6ft. waves. Doheny hasn't had any action in 6 months, and now here we are at the Pacific Paddle Games all anxious over the surf! Maybe not everyone was anxious about the surf, but I certainly was, and I know some of my teammates were too. How often do you take your 12.6 race board in and out of the surf? The last time I did it was in August, and I wasn't racing!

Photo Credit: Gretchen Gamble

Okay enough about me & my race jitters. How about all the groms & their PARENTS! I loved watching these kids charge the surf. Such inspiration for anyone racing at the Pacific Paddle Games. They had no fear-at least they looked like they didn't. But I heard a couple of back stories from parents. Would you want to watch your kid charge a 4ft. wave on a race board, and than ride a similar wave in to a shore break?  Probably not, but the parents did & the groms did their thing & after all was said and done they all grew from the experience, and had a ton of fun!

Photo Credit-Lori Tresente Mencinsky

This kind of race is great for watching the pros in action. They are amazing in their skills & techniques. But for me it's also about the SUP community. I get to race with all my friends, we get to share a unique experience. I spoke with several open competitors who had never raced in the ocean, or this was their first race! Truly inspiring to me to suck it up & get out there and race.

CP: Were there any special shout-outs of paddlers and great people you want to put out there that helped make it a great weekend of racing?
So many people came together to make this a great race. People from SUP the Mag-Andrew Mencinsky and Loraine Gruber, Anthony Vela, race director & waterman extraordinaire did a spectacular job running all the races and keeping all the racers safe. Safety was a huge priority. All the groms 14U wore helmets, all the open racers had to have leashes and pfds. Of course, all the volunteers who volunteered their time-checking racers in, board caddies, and water safety staff. It takes a SUP village! I would also like to thank Performance Paddling & our #ppsupteam for all the SUP training, coaching, and encouragement. I couldn't have done it without them! Go #PPSUPTEAM

Pacific Paddle Games 2015- Start of Women's Prone Race (Marisa Kuiken in foreground) and SUP Finisher (Veronica Wold)
Start of Women's Prone Race (Marisa Kuiken in foreground) and SUP Finisher (Veronica Wold)

CP: Thanks so much Maggie. We can't wait to check in with you again for more awesome race features and recaps.

[ Picture credits: Big Surf photo-Gretchen Gamble. SUP Kids-Lori Tresente Mencinsky. Additional Pictures-Maggie Adams.] 

Cali Paddler Team Writer Clarke Graves

Team Writer Maggie Adams - Maggie Adams is owner of Blue Paddle SUP in North County San Diego. She and her team of certified instructors offer lessons for individuals or groups, beginner to advanced. She is a great ambassador of paddling, and always excited to share and learn. Be sure to visit her website at and say hi at the next race.

If you have an idea for Maggie to write about or any questions, send it our way and we will pass it along!

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