The ultimate SUP “game” envisioned by Gerry Lopez and his buddy Sparky Longley is called ‘Battle of the Paddle.” When the elite racers fall, flail, and maneuver their way around the yellow marks placed right in the surf break it has to look and feel like one huge foamy battle.
The reality of the SUP contenders battling out for top spots in the one-of-a-kind BOP comes through best in other moments in and around the event. If you’ve ever been to an event when any of the top ten contenders, male or female, for SUP athlete of the year have been present you know what I mean.
In football you never get to sit with the best quarterback, on the bench before a game but in SUP the beach is open to everyone. Interaction with Candice, Conner, Karen, Suzie, Heather, Kai, Jamie, Chuck, Slater, Dave, and many others is easy and quite inspiring. The absolute passion for their sport and water, waves and wind they live by is contagious! They are a no excuses, hard -driving competitive bunch who train like there’s no tomorrow – but will share a pointer, a word, a smile and encouragement as needed. Clinics, blogs, movies – they share!
If you were like me, it was pretty tough to decide who to vote for in the various SUP awards offered to the public for input. I have a hand full of favorites all with top-spot accomplishments. In the recent 2012 SUP awards by Body Glove tough decisions were made. Candice Appleby was awarded top honors for women while Conner Baxter won for the men.
The one thing that struck me as I enjoyed the stories, tweets and Facebook updates was this quote from Candice, ““I want to thank the other athletes- you inspire me.”
That camaraderie and mutual respect may not be unique to the sport of standup paddling, but it is one powerful, compelling aspect of how the best of the best live their sport.
No matter where you paddle or SUP surf this weekend you can charge or chill with the attitude of those at BOP. Anyone can grab the attitude of Gerry Lopez who won the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence on the sport. He accepted his award and said, “I hope it makes a difference in how we all think. Surf with aloha and live with aloha.”
Okay, it’s Saturday! Grab your board, your paddle,and a friend then look for surf and inspiration – wherever you find it.