The Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival held on June 10-11th was a full on waterman’s adventure. Both distance and technical sup races, prone divisions and lifeguarding competitions all took place in the wind & chop on the ocean where paddlers, swimmers, and row boats had to navigate a smack down shore break in order to complete the course. A feel good event and one that left everyone smiling, here is 15-year old Hobie team rider Lexi Alston’s take on the event.
In her own words: Lexi Alston, Hobie team rider at the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival
“I avoided collision and punched through the surf towards the buoy and then realized I was somehow leading the pack.” – Lexi Alston
It was quite the race day at Santa Monica. Conditions were on my favored side including chop and waves that stuck with us throughout the entire event. As the elite women started the long course, the surf immediately affected performance, giving some either an easy time or, on the other end, a tough race to work with. For my start, I took off at full speed through the shallow sand bar, taking high steps and dragging water on my heels. When I finally stood on my board, I felt my paddle hit sand, but kept going because the ongoing waves were crashing ahead.
Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race: Women’s Distance Course
My only focus in training for this race was to get an amazing start and then ease into the paddle. I wanted to follow others and take my time getting a good spot. Along with Candice Appleby, Jade Howson and April Zilg, I raced towards the first turn buoy. Candice, Jade and I got into a draft train, while April paddled a little off to the side, keeping the same speFor the first chunk of the race, I tracked with Jade and Candice for a while, but later lost them. The race went on and I fell farther behind, but at least I saw Byron Kurt, aka lizard.
April started gaining distance on Jade and Candice while I remained in a position that would place me 4th overall in the distance race. After finishing, I talked to the others about their experience and most of them said the surf that had thrown them off.
Technical Race: a footrace to the finish between Lexi & Jade
Next was the technical race. The horn sounded and we all went charging towards the water. As soon as I reached my full speed of running, my feet fell from underneath and I realized I ran right into a ditch! I saw everyone ahead, so I ran hard through the water with my Hobie 12’6″ Raceboard because it was still too shallow to risk hitting my fin. I jumped on and stood up as soon as I could. I avoided collision and punched through the surf towards the buoy and then realized I was somehow leading the pack.
Turning the buoy, time felt very slow. I took a small fall, but stood up immediately and then caught a bump that no one else was on into the beach to run around the flag for my second run through the surf. At this point, I felt really great about my position because I had never led this race before and I wasn’t feeling tired. It was just a full time rush! I knew by the time I got to the second turn, someone was close to my tail. Shae Foudy and I tried to catch anything we could to finish the race, but all we got was a small bump that brought us slowly to shore.
Knowing it was shallow, I hopped off early and sprinted as fast as I could through the deep sand. As soon as I finished my legs burned. It was so hot, but I was overjoyed for my and Shae’s results as she had just returned to this race after recovering from injuries and she was already killing it again. Everyone else came to the finish line and immediately congratulated each other and hugged in the joy of finishing.
Overall results for the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race: Candice, Lexi & April
The day was exciting and I ended with up a win in the technical and a fourth in the distance race to put me at second overall for the women. Standing on stage with Candice Appleby and my teammate, April Zilg I felt proud of myself and them because the day had been so great and we had each earned it. This Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival was one to remember.
By, Lexi Alston
Hobie Team Rider