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Strong winds blow away Malibu paddle board race; gusts to continue

With the National Weather Service warning of a high risk of rip currents at local beaches, a  paddle board race in Malibu put on by a local nonprofit environmental group was cut short by strong winds Saturday.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper was to hold its annual Stand Up For Clean Water fundraiser, a day of races in Malibu’s Paradise Cove. About 150 contestants were on the water for the first race of the day, a five-mile course, when a strong wind picked up, said the group’s executive director, Bruce Reznik.

“It got pretty rough pretty quickly,” he said.

The contestant in the lead, world-ranked stand-up paddle board racer Danny Ching, decided the conditions were too dangerous to continue and turned around, Reznik said. The other paddle-boarders agreed, and the group began heading back to shore.

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“A lot of the really experienced athletes were helping the less experienced,” he said.

Waterkeeper sent a boat out to pick up some racers who were having difficulty and Los Angeles County lifeguards also sent a boat to assist, Reznik said.

As of Saturday afternoon, he said, all racers were accounted for except for two who were believed to have not shown up for the event. Waterkeeper staff are trying to contact those two people to confirm that they were not on the water and are safe, he said.

The group decided to cancel the five-mile race and indefinitely postpone the rest of the events planned for the day.

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Instead, Reznik said the several hundred participants and spectators who came for the event will hold “sort of a beach party.”

Gusty northeast winds are expected to pick up again Saturday night and will continue to affect portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties Sunday morning, the weather service said.

Twitter: @sewella

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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