Malibu 2 Marina Championships

The one man season in Southern California has come to an end with the last race of the season happening over the past weekend on Saturday, March 28th. Who else is a little sad it is over? But, we are excited to get back in the big boats and start working on blend.

Malibu 2 Marina has become the Championship race in the So Cal Winter Racing series, as it is now the longest and final race of the season. M2M is put on by PaddleMe Sportswear and is a point to point race starting in Malibu and finishing at Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey. This year we came on as a sponsor for M2M to support PaddleMe with putting on this series staple. Super thankful for their efforts in keeping this eventful race on. We hope to be much more involved in the 2016 Winter Series, as well!

This week, we have a great recap from Jimi Spoto, Newport Aquatic Center’s Men’s and Jr. Team Coach. Jimi placed 4th in the Open Men’s division on the Ehukai, coming in after Maika Scott (3rd), Brent Campbell (2nd), and Team rider Danny Ching (1st), who were all representing the Puakea Ohana on an Ehukai. Way to go guys, sounds like it was one heck of a race!

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Waking up at 4:00 am on a regular basis makes you rethink your life choices. I drive down to the aquatic center to pick up the trailer with 16 canoes on board and start the drive to Marina del Rey for the PaddleMe season championship, Malibu to Marina. This race is the longest in the series at 16+ miles and has the distinct history of either being fogged out, or 10 knot headwinds, but also has the potential to be a great downwind race with a 2 mile slugfest through the harbor. I’ve been checking the wind report all week and no luck. The report calls for winds out of the south west on our south easterly course.

The morning goes by in typical fashion. The short course goes out in a 4 miles loop and everyone cames back with huge smiles on their faces. Good weather and a fun venue seem to be on order for the day, but one of the safety boats relays back that there is a thick fog bank rolling in with visibility approaching zero. In the past, what the organizers have done is cancel the race, but proceed as planned having a fun run from Malibu to Marina with the idea that all who wish to join must stay close to one of the many safety boats. It has worked before with most having a fun time, and at worst, no one was lost at sea.  As one of the keiki coaches I juggled the idea of not allowing the juniors to participate seeing as most had only been paddling less than 2 years and very little time out in open ocean. But once the bus arrived in Malibu it was clear that the fog was making a hasty retreat out to sea, RACE IS ON!!

After a safety meeting on the beach with Danny Ching and the local lifeguards, we all proceeded to the start line. Once the horn is sounded it’s a standard sprint and once I caught my breath and looked up I realized I was running 6th place. Time to settle down for the 2+ hour race ahead of me. Very small bumps seemed to be the name of the game and it wasn’t a matter of if you could catch them, but how long and how hard you wanted to paddle to stay on them, much like a boat wake. The payoff of these tiny bumps may have only been about 1 mile per hour, but after an hour of playing with it I realized I had moved into 4th place, and was moving on 3rd. Danny Ching and Brent Campbell, the first and second place paddlers, respectively, were out of sight so this was my race. Coming into the harbor I was higher off the rumline and Maika Scott edged me out going into the harbor by about a minute, and would hold his lead to the finish. Earl Almario made a great comeback toward the finish where we battled through to the very end where I edged him out by only 17 seconds, great racing!! Waking up at 4:00 am is all worth it.

All in all the day was fantastic. Everyone got to race, and mother nature cooperated just enough to come play that day. Talking story after the race and sharing some cold cervezas is everyone’s participation award. We tie down the canoes, tired and sore…we get ready for six weeks off from racing.

Time to push harder!! Here comes 6-man season!


Thanks to Jimi for sharing his race and perspective on the day. It is cool to get a little look into what goes into getting all those kids and canoes to each race! Also, big thanks to Cody and Chris Silvester, as always, for all the amazing photos.

Looking forward to seeing you all again in 5 weeks at Crystal Pier. Happy training!