Full Speed Ahead for Santa Barbara Coastal Sports

Plus a Polo Triple Crown and Another Foresters Championship

There has been no coasting along the Santa Barbara coastline this summer. It’s been full speed ahead in activities from triathlons to high-goal polo to kite sailors hitting 40 mph offshore. And the Foresters are throwing a party after winning their last 21 baseball games, including another national championship. Here are some highlights.

Triathlon: When Dave Gonzales sang the national anthem before the start of the Santa Barbara Triathlon last Saturday morning, Elizabeth Rodrigues said, “It brought tears to my eyes.” It was an emotional moment for her because she was producing and directing a triathlon for the first time along with her husband, Gerry.

Rodrigues described the three stages she went through as excitement, relief, and exhaustion.

For the 1,000 athletes who participated, it was swimming, biking, and running. They were excited too, as the popular race that starts with an ocean plunge at East Beach had come back after a year’s postponement because of the pandemic.

Kite sails adorned the skies last weekend during the Leadbetter Classic, the final event of a summer series sponsored by the Kite Foil League. U.S. sailors were the majority of the 20 contestants, but Israel, Mexico, Venezuela, and Canada also were represented. | Credit: Emma Deardorff Photography

Jon Waltman, 30, picked up right where he left off in 2019. He was again the winner of the long-course race (1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run) in 2 hours, 45 minutes, 10 seconds.

Waltman, a software engineer and professional triathlete, achieved his third victory in the hometown race; he also won in 2011. He benefited from his experience. “I was the only swimmer on course,” he said. The others mistakenly swam for a more distant buoy. Waltman was the first swimmer out of the water and never looked back the rest of the way.

Vincent Bouillard of Ventura was runner-up (2:49:16), followed by Santa Barbara’s Sean Harrington (2:55:13) and Kyle Visin (2:56:39). The leading woman was Katie Hahn, 31, of Manhattan Beach (3:17:45), followed by Sarah Terry of Santa Barbara (3:21:18).

Matt Benko, 54, surprised himself by finishing faster than his son, Tyler, 28, on the long course. “Bicycling is my strength,” Matt said. “Tyler played water polo in high school, so I knew he’d be better in the swim [almost 8 minutes faster], but he burnt his candles on the bike and fell apart in the run.” Matt (3:23:04) and Tyler (3:24:53) placed 40th and 49th, respectively, out of 325 finishers.

Longtime triathlon participant Dawn Schroeder said the idea is “to complete more than compete,” and that had to be the rationale for those who tried the sprint course (500-yard swim, 6-mile bike, and 2-mile run) Saturday. The results could not be figured out because some of the cyclists went only three miles and others the full six.

“A volunteer made a mistake [and told riders to turn around too soon],” Elizabeth Rodrigues said. “That falls on me.”

So there is room for improvement when the Rodrigueses make the triathlon a bigger, two-day event next year. And Tyler Benko can figure out how to pace himself to beat his dad.

Kite Foiling: Kite sails adorned the skies August 20-22 during the Leadbetter Classic, the final event of a summer series sponsored by the Kite Foil League. U.S. sailors were the majority of the 20 contestants, but Israel, Mexico, Venezuela, and Canada also were represented.

Markus Edegran of West Palm Beach, Florida, held off Santa Barbara’s Evan Heffernan in the 13th and final race to win the series by a single point.

Heffernan and Edegran are contending to represent the U.S. in Formula Kite at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Polo: Klentner Ranch achieved a rare triple crown at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, winning all three high-goal tournaments this summer. The foursome lifted the final trophy last Sunday after outscoring BenSoleimani.com, 11-9, in the championship match of the Pacific Coast Open. Jesse Bray, a rising young six-goal player, was named MVP, and his horse Disney was the best-playing pony.  Other members of the winning foursome were Santiago Toccalino, an eight-goaler from Argentina, and the father-son combo of Justin and Jake Klentner.

Foresters Party: The Santa Barbara Foresters celebrated on the diamond in Wichita, Kansas, when they won the National Baseball Congress World Series for a staggering ninth time this summer. Now they want to give their fans a chance to celebrate by holding a party on Saturday (Sept. 4) at the Carriage Museum at Pershing Park, with barbecue, music, and dancing from 3 to 8 p.m. Admission is $30 at the door.


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