Battle Of The Paddle: Thank You For The Memories, Sparky

 
Battle of the Paddle Jay Sparky Longley and Gerry Lopez

Jay “Sparky” Longley and Gerry Lopez, to whom we owe many thanks…

With the sudden, but not totally unsurprising announcement yesterday that Rainbow Sandals has cancelled the Battle of the Paddle (at least the 2015 edition, and most likely indefinitely), the SUP racing world is currently in a state of shock/mourning/confusion.

But as the dust settles and the speculation begins, we shouldn’t lose sight of one thing: Our gratitude.

No matter what happens next, we should all be grateful to the Rainbow Sandals crew for what they’ve given us. The Battle of the Paddle has been an amazing ride that has provided timeless memories, and those memories that will never fade.

The BOP hasn’t just been a great part of our sport, for many years the Battle was the sport. Jay “Sparky” Longley created the sport of SUP racing as we know it. Without the BOP, stand up paddling would look very different (and probably nowhere near as good) right now. The BOP has been a great financial burden for Rainbow Sandals since day one, however the team kept at it for seven straight years and for that we owe them our eternal thanks.

So thank you Sparky, thank you Gerry, thank you Pat, and thank you Barrett. Thank to you to the entire Rainbow Sandals team that gave us this crazy/epic/chaotic circus on the water.

Thank you also to the paddlers that all showed up to compete in the “Super Bowl of SUP” every year, thank you to the brands that helped fund the event by sending athletes, sponsoring and exhibiting, thank you to the endless photographers and video producers that gave us endless highlight reels, thank you Al, Dreu and Tracey for the entertaining commentary, and thank you to the thousands of spectators that filled the beach and made the BOP feel like a gladiatorial contest.

It’s been a wild ride, and a very entertaining one, and no matter what happens next or which path the sport takes from here, we’ll always be grateful for what Sparky has given us.

So in the spirit of gratitude, let’s look back over the years and relive some classic Battle moments. Below is a collection from all nine editions of the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle – seven in California and two in Hawaii (the 2x in Brazil weren’t made by Rainbow).

Enjoy this tribute, perhaps with Abba’s Thank You For The Music humming in your head, and then look forward to the next phase in the evolution of SUP racing. The future is uncertain, but exciting.

*****

2008, California

Men’s Elite Race Winner: Chuck Patterson
Women’s Elite Race Winner: Jenny Kalmbach
(skip to 1:45 to watch the Elite Race)

Bonus: Chuck Patterson’s Terminator-sunnies-inspired post-race interview


2009, California

Jamie Mitchell and Shakira Westdorp


2010, Hawaii

Danny Ching and Candice Appleby
(skip to 1:25 to watch the Elite Race) 


2010, California

Danny Ching and Candice Appleby


2011, Hawaii

Travis Grant and Candice Appleby


2011, California

Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby
(skip to 25:50 to watch the Elite Race)


2012, California

Danny Ching and Annabel Anderson

 
Bonus: More videos from the 2012 Battle of the Paddle


2013, California

Kai Lenny and Annabel Anderosn

Bonus: More videos from the 2013 Battle of the Paddle


2014, California

Kai Lenny and Candice Appleby

 
Bonus: Starboard’s aerial highlights reel
Bonus #2: BOP Salt Creek: Crashes, Carnage and Chaos