O'Neill will also present the O'Neill SEA Paddle NYC, taking place on August 12th in the shadows of the world's most famous skyline. Featuring both a charity amateur race and professional competition, the 26.5-mile race will visit some of New York City's most celebrated landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge and Hudson River. Last year, the NYC paddle raised a total of $400,000, with proceeds distributed amongst Surfer's Environmental Alliance and several Autism organizations. Several hundred competitors are expected to participate in the 2011 event, including 50-100 of the world's best paddlers from around the world.
Adding a California touch to the festivities, O'Neill will host a Beach Party at the South Street Seaport's Water Taxi Beach for those who want to support event charity partners and watch each race's conclusion from Pier 40 on the East River. That night, the venue will transform into the 'White Water Evening,' where guests are encouraged to wear all-white with the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan as a backdrop.
During the SEA Paddle NYC and Tahoe Cup events, O'Neill will feature race jerseys made with 30+ UV protection that have been given the International Seal of Recommendation by The Skin Cancer Foundation. The Seal is awarded to sun protection products with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30. These UV protection lycra products, along with the highly popular Hybrid Series shorts, will be prominently featured at all upcoming SUP events.
"When Jack O'Neill created the first wetsuit, the brand made its mark in watersports, and supporting stand up paddle is another example of our commitment over the last six decades," said O'Neill's Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Steve Ward. "With the increased popularity of SUP, it's great to see the sport take off from both a casual and competitive standpoint. Adding SUP events, sun-protection products and prominent athletes to our brand roster makes perfect sense and exposes the sport to even more people around the world."
The first SUP athlete on O'Neill's roster, Rob Rojas was overall winner of the 2010 Hennessey's International Paddleboard Championships in San Diego, and has taken wins at the Hennessey's US Championships, Hobie Hennessey's Waterman Challenge, Waterman's Sunscreen Paddle for Humanity, Catalina Challenge relay and Tahoe-Nalu Distance Race.
A 37-year old from San Clemente, Calif., Rojas has a strong aquatic background, earning a spot on the Division 1 University of Virginia swim team. After college, he was introduced to the sport of Outrigger Canoe Paddling, competing in the 265 mile Texas Water Safari, which eventually led him to Stand Up Paddle. He started paddling full-time in 2006 with a 50-mile journey from Dana Point to La Jolla Cove as a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina Victims, then paddled his first competitive race in January of 2008 at the Dana Point Ocean Challenge. Today, Rojas is known to regularly train during the hours of darkness with a headlamp while in the water, one example of his true dedication to the sport.
"Joining the O'Neill team is an amazing part of a journey that started for me back in 2006, when I fell in love with stand up paddle," said Rojas. "In that time, I have worked extremely hard to improve my form and look to build a legacy in SUP and continue the success of other O'Neill athletes like Jordy Smith and Scott Byerly."
For more information about O'Neill athletes, events and apparel, visit www.oneill.com.