This year, TANDM Surf was one of the sponsors for the annual Harbor Hoot in the Dana Point Harbor. TANDM Surf recently released their SIT+SUP tandem kayak/paddleboard. So, naturally, owner John Clark planned on paddling in the event. He recruited his neighbor and friend Ruthe Spear to join him in the race.
Ages ago, Spear used to paddle. But she had a heavy, cumbersome board that was nearly impossible to load onto her car. She found it spent more time sitting in the garage gathering dust than time in the water, so eventually, she sold it and stopped paddling. When she learned of the new, inflatable boards on offer from TANDM Surf she was excited about the doors they opened for paddlers. When Clark asked Spear to join him in the Harbor Hoot, she lit up and agreed immediately.
Although Spear had experience on a paddleboard, it had been years and she had never competed in a race. The Harbor Hoot was a fun, welcoming event and she’d be paddling alongside Clark, so she felt comfortable entering.
“I sat in the front because I thought that would be more stable and that allowed John to paddle from the back,” says Spear. “I knew that he was experienced, and I could trust him and I was just there to be some extra muscle and enjoy it. The whole thing was about going out and having fun—it was a hoot.”
Although Clark and Spear’s priority was having fun and enjoying a shared experience, they also enjoyed the challenge of the race. They chatted throughout the event and occasionally would kick it into high gear in an effort to pass someone.
“It was so exciting,” says Spear. “When you’re doing something that’s a shared experience it elevates the experience.”
“Adding TANDM Surf to an event really changes the idea of a contest into having fun together,” says Clark. “The winners were the ones with the biggest smiles on their faces.”
The TANDM board made entering a race less intimidating because instead of paddling solo, Spear paddled alongside a trusted friend. If the opportunity to tandem race came up again, Spear says she would do it because it would be fun to experience with someone.
In addition to racing, Spear loves that the SIT + SUP is a fun way to get on the water with friends. Unlike her old paddleboard, it’s manageable and easy to use.
“It’s so easy and accessible because it’s inflatable,” says Spear. “You don’t have to be in great shape or have super good balance to do it—it meets you at whatever level you’re at.”
Because the TANDM SIT + SUP is a new board, the Harbor Hoot was the first race where the boards were used. Clark and Spear paddled in the open 3k race but there was also an exclusive TANDM Surf sprint race. First time and veteran racers were encouraged to enter, and the event was all about having fun—paddlers were required to hold hands with their partners as they crossed the finish line.
“The TANDM race fit in just right at the Harbor Hoot,” says participant Mel Wygal. “It was already such a carefree event in nature that paddling with a friend on the same board and trying to negotiate buoy turns was hilariously enjoyable. I think encouraging people to try tandem racing is very inclusive and helps sidestep the nervousness of a first-time racer since a friend is helping.”
“We enjoyed having the enjoyed having the first ever TANDM Surf SIT+SUP sprint race at the Harbor Hoot,” says race director Anthony Vela. “It was a fun and exciting event for all spectators and participants.”