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Locals shine in first US SUP Tour event of the season

Emmy Merrill of San Clemente is chaired by friends and fellow competitors following her Pro SUP Surf win at the US SUP Tour event March 22-23 in Huntington Beach. Photo by Jack McDaniel/US SUP Tour
Emmy Merrill of San Clemente is chaired by friends and fellow competitors following her Pro SUP Surf win at the US SUP Tour event March 22-23 in Huntington Beach. Photo by Jack McDaniel/US SUP Tour

By Andrea Swayne

Four local stand-up paddle pros conquered challenging conditions all the way to the podium at the 2014 US SUP Tour kickoff, March 22-23 in Huntington Beach. Two San Clemente women brought home their divisions’ top prize.

Choppy conditions at the Huntington Beach Pier challenged both SUP surfing and SUP racing contestants who delivered exciting performances, highlighting their expert command of the waist- to shoulder-high waves.

For San Clemente-based professional stand-up paddle surfer Emmy Merrill, winning the Women’s Pro SUP division was a repeat of last year’s victory at the series’ debut.

“It felt really great to win the first one again, and set a precedent for the season,” Merrill said. “I went in considering it a training event for the ISA World Championship. This event had the highest caliber of talent of any contest I’ve surfed in before, and I appreciate that. It really pushed me to become a better competitor.”

Last year’s Men’s Pro SUP division winner, San Clemente’s Colin McPhillips, came up just short of the win, which instead went to Hawaiian Zane Schweitzer. His runner-up finish was inspired nonetheless, said Ian Cairns, US SUP Tour co-founder and US SUP Team head coach.

Cairns had his eye on both Merrill and McPhillips, who are members of the US SUP Team and will be traveling in May to Nicaragua for the International Surfing Association World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in May.

“This was a great warm up for Colin and Emmy and a good opportunity for me to see how they’re surfing leading up to Nicaragua,” Cairns said. “South Orange County is a hotbed of SUP talent and these two are definitely standouts in SUP surf.”

Candice Appleby of San Clemente earned top honors in the Women’s Pro Race division and took third in Women’s SUP Surf. But she didn’t have much time to let her results sink in, as Appleby, along with a number of other competitors, headed straight to Brazil for event No. 2 of the Stand Up World Tour set for March 29.

Brandi Baksic, also from San Clemente, claimed the third-place spot in the Women’s Pro Race.

More information, including schedules and event photos, can be found on the tour’s Facebook page.

US SUP Tour Event No. 1 Results:

Pro Surf Men:
1. Zane Schweitzer, Hawaii
2. Colin McPhillips, San Clemente
3. Ryan Helm, Mexico
4. Sean Poynter, Ocean Beach

Pro Surf Women:
1. Emmy Merrill, San Clemente
2. Izzy Gomez, Florida
3. Candice Appleby, San Clemente
4. Sophia Bartlow, Long Beach

Open Surf Men:
1. Kieran Grant, Florida
2. Fisher Grant, Florida
3. Nick Ventresca, Florida
4. Chris Gutzeit, Santa Barbara

Open Surf Women:
1. Izzy Gomez, Florida
2. Sarah Messina, Santa Monica
3. Karen Jacobson, Mexico
4. Avalon Gall, Laguna Beach

Open Race Men:
1. Javier Jimenez, Mexico
2. Hector Gonzalez, Mexico
3. Jedd Hasay, San Luis Obispo

Open Race Women:
1. Karen Jacobson, Mexico

Pro Race Women:
1. Candice Appleby, San Clemente
2. Halie Harrison, Hawaii
3. Brandi Baksic, San Clemente
4. Karen Jacobson, Mexico

Pro Race Men:
1. Slater Trout, Manhattan Beach
2. Mo Freitas, Hawaii
3. Brennan Rose, Hawaii
4. Matt Becker, Santa Barbara

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