Posted on May 04 2010
Micky Munoz Paddle Race brings out the SUPs!
Matthew Becker dug his paddle out in the water, his knees bent while he glanced next to his competition's board as it kept speed at his side. The 15-year-old Becker gained inches, then more against his closest rival - three-time world longboard champ Colin McPhillips. Most Stand Up Paddle races last for miles and competitors have to pace themselves. The Mickey Munoz Paddle Fiesta - a relay race around buoys at Baby Beach - was a full-blown sprint. “You just go all out the entire way,” Becker said. “It's the shortest I've done, but the most exciting. That neck-and-neck thing makes it fun.” Like many surfers, Becker discovered the sport on a day when the surf was flat. His uncle John, who was on his relay team Saturday, urged him to give it a shot
The young racer started placing well at races, and the Mickey Munoz event was no exception where they were leading the pack early. Eventually his team - H20 Overdrive - won the event.
“It's fun, but we're still a little competitive,” John Becker said with a smile. “We like to win.”
About three dozens teams battled it out during the event, just one of many Stand Up Paddle Races showing up along the coast. Mickey Munoz Paddle Race brings out the SUPs
The event was named after surf legend Mickey Munoz, who lives in Capo Beach.
“I'm flattered and humbled by it,” he said, his dog Gidget sitting patiently at the nose of his board. The event was to highlight safety within the harbor while using SUPs. New rules require life jackets be taken out in the water with paddlers “We wanted to promote harmony in the harbor with safety and etiquette,” Munoz said.
Not all are happy with the new rules. A petition was going around at the event against the new requirements.
“Instead we should be allowed to have a leash and the board we are on counts as a personal flotation device,” says David Haag. While he agrees that kids should wear life vests, the rules should not apply to adults. If the life jacket is required to be taped on the nose of the board, and the board flies away - what good is the life jacket? he asks.
When asked about the rules, McPhillips said he wasn't too worried about it because he uses the SUPs in the ocean, where the rules don't apply. “A lot of people don't like it. It's no big deal for me,” he said.
McPhillips - known for his talent on a longboard - said he's only been on a traditional board once since October. “It was like learning all over again for me,” he said. “I had that spark, that excitement, I haven't had for a long time.” The SUPs have given him a way to spend time with his family - his 3-year-old sits at the front of his board, his wife enjoys the sport, and his son Kai, 7, was in the competition with him on Saturday.
aime Donnelly, who will be opening up a store with three friends called Stand Up Paddle Company on April 1 in Laguna Beach, said the event was the perfect warm up for the season, and a great way to introduce people to the sport.
“It's a great event for beginners and first-time racers,” she said. “It's all about having fun. It's a perfect race to show the diversity of the sport.” posted by Laylan Connelly, staff writer for the OC REGISTER.