SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2011) - In one of the most exciting nights in standup paddling history, the 2011 SUP Awards, presented by Teva, crowned the year's top paddlers, movies, expeditions and philanthropic effort.
Hawaii's Jenny Kalmbach took home the top women's honor while 17-year-old Connor Baxter finished tops among men. "My legs are shaking," Baxter said from the podium. "I'm stoked to see everyone here; it's a real honor. But it's weird to see everyone so dressed up."
San Clemente's Candice Appleby and Maui's Talia Gangini finished 2nd and 3rd in the women's category while Dave Kalama and Slater Trout finished 2-3 respectively in the men. "I couldn't be more honored to be a standup paddler," said Appleby, while Dave Kalama, in his excitement, gave away the top male winner, Baxter, in his video acceptance speech from Fiji. "It was a choice between surfing in Fiji or Southern California. Obviously, Fiji won out," said Kalama. "I'm so stoked, and I Just want to congratulate Slater and Connor."
Chris Aguilar's Destination 3 Degrees was named top movie among a crop of strong contenders in the best film category while Bart de Zwart's grueling unsupported paddle from the Big Island to Kauai finished atop the expedition category. Watermans Applied Science Paddle 4 Humanity was named top Philanthropic Effort.
"Standup is such a new sport, and I immediately fell in love with it," says Aguilar. "I work a regular job, and I really appreciate the opportunity to make this film. I'm inspired by these guys." While de Zwart said his expedition was "the hardest thing [he] ever did." And Waterman's Pete Stirling said, "Not only did we raise $50,000, we had a lot of fun."
In one of the more touching moments of the evening, Rainbow Sandal's Jay "Sparky" Longley was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in furthering the sport of standup paddling. Gerry Lopez took the stage and was greeted by a standing ovation before presenting Longley with the award.
"Everybody can standup paddle in three minutes," Longley said. "That's why people love it, and that's why we do it—for the fun of it."
More than 300 people enjoyed the SUP Awards video program that featured film from grand cinematic efforts including Aguilar's , H20 Overdrive's Standup the Movie, Jeff Vasquez's A Stand Up Paddle Movie and Brent Deal's H2Indo.
Paddling celebrities like Gerry Lopez, Jamie Mitchell, Danny Ching, Chuck Patterson and others came together in one of the greatest nights in standup history to celebrate one another. "I've never seen such an incredible array of talent in one room," said SUP magazine Editor Joe Carberry. "It was a great first year and we look forward to celebrating the sport like this for years to come."
Special thanks to the sponsors: Teva, Kona, Kru Vodka and Futures Fins. Stay tuned to SUPAwards.com andSUPthemag.com for full photo and video coverage of the night.