Gold Coast, Aus — STAND up paddleboarding (SUP) continued its resurgence at Currumbin Alley today with the second annual Honolua Ultimate Stand Up Paddle Challenge wrapping up on the Gold Coast.
The first wave of stand up paddle surfing was attributed to the Hawaiian Beach Boys in the 1930’s who used to surf in Waikiki, Hawaii using canoe paddles to power themselves into waves.
Interest in the sport later faded out with the arrival of shorter and lighter boards, but the popularity has exploded on the Gold Coast with this year’s event attracting plenty of attention, with $1500 prize money up for grabs across a 40-strong field.
But it was no easy paddle for surfing’s ironmen, battling a devilish north westerly wind and testing 0.5-metre waves in the race for stand up paddle glory.
Burleigh Heads SUP ace and defending champion James ‘Billy’ Watson validated his standing as the country’s ultimate stand up paddle surfer, trumping a talented crew of surfers to seal back-to-back crowns.
Watson, 28, was in a league of his own in the multi-disciplinary paddle challenge; unleashing a skilful showing of the revived Hawaiian surfing style to finish in the numero-uno position on 2450 points after placing second in the surfing division and third in the race component.
“I’m so stoked,” said Watson.
“Conditions were bumpy today which made doing maneouves quite difficult, so I’m pleased to come away with the win.”
Currumbin Lifeguard Kelly Margetts finished behind Watson in second on 2110-points with Woody Jack (Currumbin – 2000pts) rounding out the top three.
In a tightly-contested surfing final, Currumbin gun Jack out-duelled defending champion Watson to snare bragging rights over his Burleigh Heads rival.
In a high-scoring final, Jack made the most of an early wave score (7.17) to dominate proceedings.
Despite a last minute charge by Watson, Jack held his nerve to take line honours.
The talented paddler finishing on a two-wave combined total of 15.00 (out of a possible 20) to Watson’s 12.33. The Gold Coast pairing of Guy Walker and Matthew Lumley finishing in third and fourth respectively.
Post final, Jack said he was stoked to be apart of today’s surfing final.
“I’m over the moon,” he said.
“I was kind of nervous at the start of the final, but I settled into rhythm quickly. I jagged a set wave right off the bat which really setup the win for me.”
Utilising the standard judging criteria as per the Surfing Australia Rule Book, competitors were also judged on how they utilised their paddle to push into waves and execute maneouvres.
Currumbin local Margetts crossed the line in first in the paddle race in a super-fast time of 27 minutes and 32 seconds, just ahead of Danny Sheard in 28 minutes and 46 seconds. Watson finished in third in a time of 29 minutes and 02 seconds.
Competitors were required to paddle the two-kilometre race involving both flat and surf water conditions for the second component of the one-day tournament. Paddlers raced from Currumbin Creek out through the surf and around a buoy back into Currumbin Creek around the M1 Highway Bridge and back to a finish line under the Gold Coast Highway Bridge.
However, the paddle challenge was not all about fierce competition.
The Honoula Ultimate SUP Challenge was designed to be a really social affair and was a perfect event for the public to have their first crack at surfing’s hottest craze.
Acting as a fantastic introductory to SUP, the prestigious event incorporated a free “Learn to SUP” clinic.