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By Andrea Swayne
The month of June marked a great start to the summer stand-up paddling competition season for San Clemente’s Candice Appleby.
Appleby kicked off the month winning the Santa Monica Pier Paddle followed by taking the Open Women SUP Surf national champion title June 15 at the Surfing America USA Championship at Church Beach.
Then June 20-22 she took on another style of SUP competition in Cascade, Idaho at the Payette River Games—racing and SUP cross—earning the overall title and a $10,000 prize.
Appleby conquered the river in a 1.5-mile sprint race and the SUP Cross head-to-head race through rapids. Both divisions were run in heats over the three-day event.
Appleby had the fastest time on Day 1 and Day 2 in the sprint. Day 3 saw her earn second place after taking a fall. Her runner-up finish tightened the point spread among competitors, making for a close contest for the overall title in the SUP Cross.
Going into the SUP Cross finals, all five competitors had a shot at the top prize. Appleby finished a few seconds ahead of Olympic slalom kayak silver medalist Rebecca Giddens, for the overall title.
“Coming from an ocean background, I have the utmost respect for the river, or maybe I should say it was a little scary for me,” Appleby said. “It was fun to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone and come out on top.”
Despite her apprehension and little experience with rivering, the four-time Battle of the Paddle champion’s skills translated from ocean to river and served her well.
The event attracted top SUP and whitewater kayak athletes and paid out a total of $50,000, the largest prize purse in the sport so far. The top prize also made history, as the payout was equal for both men and women competitors.