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Stand Up Paddling Competitors Pummeled By San Francisco Waves

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Stand up paddleboarders from all over the world rode the waves at Ocean Beach Wednesday.

It was a race against each other and the sinister swells all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Leave it to Red Bull to sponsor an event that turns something as peaceful as paddle boarding into something radical.

A dozen of the world's best competitive paddle boarders came to San Francisco to take on Ocean Beach's infamous surf entry. And by all accounts, the surf won.

Stand Up Paddling tour director Tristin Boxford said, "We identified Ocean Beach as one of the more extreme, notorious locations in the U.S."

Normally, in a stand up competition, boarders fight their way through a surf break, paddle around a set of offshore buoys and then race toward a finish line.

They did that here too, but this time they made the boarders come in and out of the surf three times before heading out to open ocean.

It was an experiment for a rapidly growing sport and this was one time when the best in the world didn't make it look easy.

Most of the buzz in the sport centers around 24-year-old Kai Lenny from Hawaii, who's taking paddle boarding off the lake and onto the big waves.

But Ocean Beach had a few lessons to teach him as well.

Frequent Ocean Beach surfer Mark Ritchie said, "I don't know that they all would want to do it again judging by what's going on. It's pretty brutal."

Once out in open water the paddlers faced a 7.5-mile journey past Seal Rock, around the point, under the Golden Gate Bridge to a finish at Marina Green.

But there is a winner. It was indeed Kai Lenny of Hawaii.

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