Waikiki woman takes down sea of men in pro stand-up paddle event

HONOLULU — In another first for the sport of stand-up paddle surfing, the major honors for the C4 Waterman/Honolua Surf Co competition, went to a woman, Saturday.

Waikiki’s Candice Appleby out performed a field of world-class SUP surfers to win both the pro division and the women’s category. Among Appleby’s casualties in the pro ranks were Brian Keaulana (Makaha), Noland Martin (Makaha), and Noah Shimabukuro (Kula, Maui).

It was also a day of double victories for 13-year-old Maui stand-up paddler Slater Trout. Trout won the highest scoring heat of all the finals — the men’s amateur division against surfers more than twice his age — as well as the 12-mile C4 Waterman/Honolua Surf Co. paddleboard race from Hawaii Kai to Duke’s Restaurant, Waikiki, held earlier in the day.

The winner of the junior SUP surfing division was Kai Lenny (Pa‘ia, Maui). Like Trout, Lenny and three of his fellow finalists — Brendan Bradley (Honolulu), Micah Liana and Connor Baxter — contested the 12-mile paddleboard race earlier in the day.

The youngest of all was 10-year-old Liana.

Appleby fulfilled a dream, a dream that was inspired by the very surfers she overcame to taste this victory.

“Today was a total dream come true,” said Appleby, 23, a student at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, where she studies Tropical Plants and Soil Science.

“I live right down the street and I surf here every day. I’ve just been really focused and training hard.

“I can’t really say I was nervous. I felt honored to be in a heat with them. All those guys (in the final), I learned from watching them and they have inspired me to do what I do.

“Given the conditions, I think it’s whoever really wants it the most. You’ve got to be 100 per cent with your mind, your body and your spirit. The ocean conditions did play a part, but it takes your personal strength to get you through.”

Thirteen-year-old Slater Trout also breaks with convention. While most aspiring surfers his age have their sights set on the world of pro shortboard surfing, Slater is passionate about the sport of SUP, a sport that first resonated with an older crew before permeating the younger ranks, as witnessed.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this sport and pursue it as much as I can,” said Slater, who stands 6 feet tall and is from Lahaina, Maui.

“I started out shortboarding but it wasn’t going so well for me. I had some friends who started stand-up paddling and they got me started. From then on, every morning at 5:30 a.m., I was getting out there. That’s what got me here: practice and motivation.”

Another surfer who embodied the fire of SUP passion was lone Australian Stuart Murray.

He was in the amateur final alongside Trout and placed third. Murray came to Hawai‘i earlier this week to be married. The wedding went down on Monday, and by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning he was surfing in this event.

Not expecting to make it all the way to the final, he kept his original travel plans that had him flying out the next morning.

After qualifying for the final, his wife flew home Wednesday and Murray stayed on to honeymoon alone while waiting for surf. He is still married.

The C4 Waterman/Honolua Surf Co. event was part of the week-long Duke’s OceanFest. Various finals were held today with clean but very small one- to two-foot surf on offer.

Of all the events, the SUP surfers enjoyed conditions the most, able to squeeze out every point and inch of ride with their paddles.

Many thanks to sponsors C4 Waterman, Honolua Surf Co., Blue Planet, Nixon watches, Maui Jim sunglasses, and Sector 9 skateboards.

Stand-up paddle surfing combines the elements of two traditional Hawaiian ocean sports: canoe paddling’s paddle, and longboarding’s surfboard. Surfers paddle into waves and ride, always in the standing position, and are scored on critical surfing maneuvers.

The C4 Waterman/Honolua Surf Co paddleboard race from Hawaii Kai to Duke’s Restaurant, Waikiki, was won by Honolulu’s Brian Rocheleau.

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