SBMM Board Member, event Co-Chair, and 1977 World Champion Surfer Shaun Tomson with participants at last year’s Paddle Out Party. credit: SBMM | Credit: SBMM

All manner of people-powered watercraft are welcome at Sunday’s Paddle Out Party, said event co-chair and 1977 World Surfing Champion Shaun Tomson.

“Grab a surfboard, kayak, SUP, canoe ― anything that floats,” said Tomson, who will join the group launch from Leadbetter Beach. “Or throw on a bikini or Speedo. Just get out there!”

The third year of the annual event, a benefit for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, is a chance to not only enjoy some fresh air, food, and music, he explained, but also to show gratitude for the small but mighty museum located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Harbor. 

“I love what they do,” said Tomson, who sits on the organization’s board. “It’s a great representation of our beautiful town. It’s a gem.”

The former world champ said he’s visited regularly since moving here in 1995 and is always awed by the Chumash tomol that greets visitors at the entrance. “People were traveling between the islands before Western civilization even began,” he said. “It gives you an appreciation for the roots of our community.”

Though the exhibits are always fascinating, he continued, events like the Paddle Out Party “gives people an experience that connects them even more with the water and the Channel.” And that, he said, helps fan the flame of environmentalism that Santa Barbara is so famous for.

“I’ve been all over the world,” Tomson said. “And this town is very, very positive and strong in terms of environmental sensitivity.” Local nonprofits like Heal the Ocean, Channelkeeper, and Surfrider are critical components of that continuing heritage, he said. 

The actual paddle-out will be about a mile, said Tomson ― who will be on a three-fin replica of a board he rode at Sunset Beach in the ‘70s ― and won’t be “terrifically challenging.” Participants can register as an individual or as a team, and though it’s technically a competition with opportunities for prizes, it’s much more about bringing people together to enjoy and appreciate the ocean. 

Tomson said he most looks forward to meeting new folks and mingling with fellow members of his “water tribe.” “I just like connecting with people,” he said. “Come get in the water with us.”

Learn more about the event and register here.


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