“What’s so weird about that?”
That’s the response I got after telling a friend that I was shooting Battle of the Paddle, a standup paddleboard race in SoCal.
Sure, SUP is a popular, um, mainstream water activity. Even I have
flailed at tried it. But to have a thousand boarders compete in a real race? Not only do I think that’s weird, I think it’s photogenic. And worthy of going back to Cali.
No doubt, baby.
I first learned about this Battle from beloved friend Kevin Sullivan, who shot it last year for the OC Reg. What I loved at first sight was the level of chaos on hand. These people are real athletes and give a shit.
Yeah, no costumes or pre-race beer bongs.
One thing that made me apprehensive about shooting this was that many of the visuals relied on graphic aspects and less on moments. Then there was being stuck at sea level, shooting from the beach. A helicopter would have been nice.
The next best thing, though, was getting an unsolicited offer for a boat ride along the course. (I’m still shaking my head at this, because it so rarely happens like this.) Thanks to the great folks at Harbor Boat Rentals for the free ride – and the ice cold Bud Light. Mucho Mahalo!
As with all wonderful Weird Sports® events, I found myself smiling with friends. Was bummed that Sully couldn’t make it again this year. But I did have a couple of the best sports shooters alongside me.
Was great to Hang 10 with dear friend Rob Gauthier, a stud staffer at the LA Times. (That’s him with the gray tee above Instagramming a photo in the makeshift pressroom.) I love Rob’s passion for photography and covet his work ethic. I feel fortunate to have friends like him.
The Donald (Miralle) was also there not just to shoot, but also to compete. In fact, he won his event, but placed 4th because he dropped his paddle before crossing the finish line. (Sounds like a bullshit technicality to me.) Donald also danced hula onstage and met surfing legend Gerry Lopez, below left. Yeah, this dude is an Achiever.
I’ve got to admit: I shot a shit ton of photos this day, north of 5K. Yeah, the Decisive Motordrive™ in action. Tends to happen when I’m out of my comfort zone and unsure what I’m shooting. My hope is that things will make sense when I’m back home in front of my computer screen.
Can’t say I’m a huge fan of my program, but it is what it is. And I try to own it. I’m swinging for the fences, looking for happy accidents and hoping to connect with something that could make Weird Sports® 2.
While I’m not sure what to make from this batch of images, I will say this was a good day and a reminder why I love what I do.
Shooting Weird Sports® is definitely a happy accident.