Participants in a paddle board race held on Aug. 13, 1949 line up for the start of the competition. The Santa Monica Pier is trying to revive the tradition with a race scheduled for June. (photo by Photo Courtesy Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives)

SM BAY — Restoring a decades-old tradition, the Santa Monica Pier and Honolua Surf Co. will kick off the summer of 2010 with the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race, featuring up to 250 contestants, a dory competition and a paddle gear exhibition.

The race will be held Saturday, June 12, organizers said.

“Santa Monica and the pier in particular have a rich history of paddleboarding and we’re thrilled to be bringing back that tradition and tapping into the growing popularity of stand up paddling,” said Pat Fraley, brand manager at Honolua Surf Co. “This will be a great day at the beach and the pier for anyone who enjoys the ocean or a good competition.”

Paddleboard racing was a popular Santa Monica sport in the 1940s with two paddleboard clubs headquartered on the pier and race results regularly published in the local newspaper. The sport’s popularity waned over the decades, but has recently made a dramatic resurgence.

The event is presented by Honolua Surf Co. and Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay and its public marine education facility, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will receive a portion of gross proceeds from the paddleboard race.

“Heal the Bay is excited to be a part of this wonderful ocean event,” said Natalie Burdick, Heal the Bay’s constituent development manager. “Not only will a portion of the proceeds support our efforts to make Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, safe, healthy and clean, but it also promotes greater awareness of, and deeper connections with, the Santa Monica Bay,”

The start and finish of the races will take place on the sand immediately adjacent to the pier with the course running north and south in the heart of the Santa Monica Bay.

The stand up paddle and prone paddleboard races feature 5.5-mile and 1-mile courses, both of which take paddlers by the historic pier.

“The pier is a world-class venue for an ocean event and restoring the paddleboard tradition to Santa Monica is awesome,” said Todd Roberts of ZJ Boarding House, which is helping to organize the event. “We are expecting everyone from some serious competitors to first-time racers who are just out to have fun and be a part of fantastic day at the beach.”

Participation in the race is limited and early registration is encouraged. The first race begins at 8:45 a.m., June 12. For more information visit www.pierpaddle.com.

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