PaddleFest sparks interest in the sport

Last Saturday’s second leg of the Marianas PaddleFest has sparked a renewed interest on paddle sports in the community, according to OceanSoul Society representative Dino Manning.

Harumi Suzuki paddles her way to the women’s open crown in last Saturday’s Marianas PaddleFest held at the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s beachside. Race organizers are planning their next event as interest in stand up paddling has been increasing. (Jon Perez)

Harumi Suzuki paddles her way to the women’s open crown in last Saturday’s Marianas PaddleFest held at the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s beachside. Race organizers are planning their next event as interest in stand up paddling has been increasing. (Jon Perez)

Manning, who helped organize the stand up paddleboard racing event, said they will capitalize on this as they plan their next races. It was also the first time that a stand up paddling race was held in the CNMI.

“It was perfect weather and it was a fun atmosphere with some good racing. Based on the last two races, it’s evident that we have sparked an interest so we plan to continue to build and improve for our future events,” said Manning.

Jack Kabiriel led the list of winners as he topped the men’s open with Masaki Kitami (U16), Harumi Suzuki (women’s), Deanna Kapileo (U14), and Kaya Rasa (U12) duplicating his feat in their respective divisions.

OceanSoul, Windsurfing Saipan, and Hyatt Regency Saipan were the co-organizers of the first two races. The first stand up paddle race was held last June 28.

“I feel like the level of competition increased compared to the last race as a result of participants showing up consistently in the practice sessions prior to race day,” said Manning.

He added that there were a few youth paddlers since Saturdays and Sundays are usually a busy day for the CNMI sports community as various activities were usually held simultaneously.

“Overall the turnout was consistent with our last event in June. We did have a few less youth paddlers on hand due to multiple activities happening on the same day around the island,” said Manning.

Though it was not on their original plan, they held a fun race between four U8 kids—Kai Manning, Alonzo Acosta, C.J. Sablan, and Daniel—in a short course so they could also be part of the action.

“It was an unofficial race. Since one of our objectives is to get more of our youth active using paddle sports, we are exploring ways to get more youth participants out to our practice sessions and events.”

Guam Olympian Sean Pangelinan’s presence, Manning said, was also a contributing factor as the Beijing Games veteran conducted a clinic where he gave tips and other techniques of the sport before the start of the races.

Manning added that most of the participants were eager to apply what they learned from Pangelinan in the races.

Manning said race organizers would meet to plan and schedule their next event. “We don’t have a date yet for our next event but we received a lot of inquiries.”

Manning added that OceanSoul Society would like to thank all the volunteers that helped them with their two events and the Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service for their partnership to help their efforts in keeping the CNMI youth active and battle childhood obesity.

Bank of Hawaii, JET Holdings, Triple J Enterprises, Tan Siu Lin Foundation, KKMP 92.1, Kialoa Paddles, Infinity SUP, Better Surf than Sorry, Bomber Floating Eyewear, Fokai Industries, Power 99, and Saipan Apparel are the other sponsors of the event.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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