Teen paddler makes big waves in outrigger races

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Tanner Douthit, 15, of Seal Beach is the new state champion in outrigger paddling.

Douthit,won last week paddling in the single men’s 1 year and under division in Santa Barbara.

“I’m so excited about the sport of paddling,” he said. “This win automatically qualifies me to be in the world sprints in Canada next year.”

Those sprints include teams from countries as far away as New Zealand and Figi.

Douthit started paddling when he was a fourth grader at McGaugh Elementary School and continued through middle school at McAuliffe and now while at Valley Christian High School.

“I’ve gotten a lot of my friends involved in the sport over the years as well,” he said. “They seem to enjoy it as much as me.  I love the uniqueness of the sport and it is really fun when we get to surf the waves.”

He started with the Kahakai team in Long Beach but has since moved to the Imua club in Newport Beach.  His love of the sport and the water has kept him going.

“It’s a lot of hard work but definitely worth it,” he said. “There is nothing like seeing the finish line when you feel like you have nothing left and knowing you gave it your all, especially when you win.”

Tanner is currently training for the September nine man race from Catalina to Newport and hopes in the future to be in the international competition between the Hawaiian Islands.  He hopes Outrigger paddling will eventually become an Olympic sport.

Teen paddler makes big waves in outrigger races