Old-fashioned paddleboarding gets new life in Santa Monica
When Tom Blake developed wooden paddleboards to rescue distressed swimmers in the 1920s, the Santa Monica waterman had no idea he was creating a sport for the ages.Six decades after paddleboard racers last propelled themselves through the choppy waters off the Santa Monica Pier, scores of competitors took to the waves Saturday and demonstrated that the once-popular sport still has legs.
"When those racers took off, I actually had tears in my eyes," said Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. "This is something we've been missing."
Back in the 1930s and '40s — the sport's heyday — the women-only Manoa Paddleboard Club and the coed Santa Monica Paddleboard Club ran regular sprints in front of hundreds of spectators, and local newspapers printed the results.
In the 1960s, according to pier historian James Harris, interest in
paddleboarding gave way to the more thrilling and challenging sport of
performance surfing. With the broad adoption of stand-up paddling in
recent years, paddleboarding has seen a resurgence.
-- Martha Groves in Santa Monica
Photo: Competitors in a 5.5-mile paddleboard race take off from the Santa Monica Pier. The June 4 event was organized by Honolua Surf Co. Credit: Ann Johansson / For The Times