Standing Up To A New World Tour

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - December 16, 2009
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Longboard surfer Duane DeSoto at Teahupo’o in Tahiti

Some of the world’s best watermen are prepared to stand up to a new challenge, literally. A new world surfing tour set to launch next February will feature wave riding like few have seen before with big surf, big boards and big paddles.

“Stand-up surfing has been around for quite a while,” says professional longboard surfer Duane DeSoto. “With the different kind of waves we’re going to take these boards into and keep pushing the limits on them, it’s just going to be pretty awesome and extraordinary.”

The stand-up world tour debuts Feb. 6-14 at world-famous Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore. Call it stand-up paddling with an attitude.

“We’re now at a stage where these guys are pushing the limits, but there’s no platform for them to showcase what’s going on and show the evolution of the sport,” says Tristan Boxford, the Watermen League World Tour organizer. “These riders have an immense amount of skill and courage that’s required to harness a massive wave and just try to get into a barrel with a paddle. It’s exciting to see where these guys can take it.”


 

Several of the world’s best big-wave riders recently took part in a “contenders project” in Tahiti at one of the most punishing breaks in the world.

“That was a little bit more of an exhibition style in Tahiti, but it was still pretty rough with eight guys trying to catch the best waves to grab the spotlight and to be the guy,” says DeSoto with a laugh. “I had an instance at Teahupoo where the paddle knocked me off my board and put me over the falls pretty good. There are a lot more factors now.”

Adds legendary waterman and tour competitor Kainoa McGee: “Where we are now in the surf world is unprecedented, and this will be something people haven’t seen before and on a level they never imagined. This tour is going to allow us to go around the world and show people the kind of high-performance stuff that we’re trying to market.”

Boxford says after the debut at Sunset the tour will make stops in France, California and Tahiti with a chance of one more event in Hawaii at the end of the year.

“We’re trying to choose locations that will attract people’s attention from all demographics,” says Boxford. “We have South Africans, Australians, Hawaiians, Californians, French, English ... a bit of everyone. It is truly a world tour.”

Boxford says the sport is “definitely Hawaiian-dominant at the moment,” but the tour could provide surprises. McGee takes it a step further and sees the tour expanding in the future to include many different venues.

“The potential for that is even bigger because it’s not going to be limited to just wave riding,” says McGee, who has been a force in big waves on bodyboards and longboards for years. “We’ll probably do events that are downhill runs, get us in the lakes and rivers and just constantly mix it up.”

Perhaps runs like the one recently completed by Maui lifeguard and big-wave rider Archie Kalepa in the Grand Canyon. Kalepa became the first person to navigate a stand-up paddleboard 187 miles through the rapids of the Colorado River.


“People who are not ocean-based people are going to want to get involved and start endorsing it,” says DeSoto. “It’s going to bring a lot of outside money that’s not currently in the surfing industry.”

“The reach of stand-up paddling is far beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and the potential of this sport is huge because it’s not limited,” adds McGee.

And that includes sliding into a monster at Pipeline, a dream event that may soon be reality. You can bet these guys are up for the challenge.

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