Thursday, July 3, 2008

Semana Nautica kicks off 71st year


Kicking off its seventy-first year, the Semana Nautica Annual Summer Sports Festival is the grandfather of Santa Barbara sporting traditions. If it’s the grandfather, then Nite Moves, now in its twentieth year, is like an exuberant grandchild that carries on the spirit of promoting recreational sporting in the community.

Last night, Semana Nautica adopted the weekly race, Nite Moves, as its opening night event and party. They always expect a crowd at Leadbetter Beach on Wednesdays for the popular 5k run and 1000m swim.
“They reached out to me a couple of years ago because we have such a successful event here,” said Jake Clinton of, organizer of Nite Moves. “So I said ‘Why not.’”
Clinton said about 200 swimmers and runners of various skill levels participated in the opening night Semana Nautica event. Though competition is visible in the eyes and flexing muscles of some of the top runners and swimmers, many participants come to enjoy the company, food, drinks and live music as much as the thrill of competition.
First time attendee, Kristina Kurdyla, said, “It’s great. It’s the whole package. You get to run for fun or to compete with others or your own personal record. Then after, you can relax with the food and the music.”
Erik Hawkins broke the winner’s ribbon for the men, and Dana Battaglia came in first in the women’s race. In the swim, Daniel Matalizio made it through the ocean course, out of the water and across the sand before the thick of the pack.
Semana Nautica has the same versatile feel of providing the recreation and leisure side of community sports as well as the competition for casual athletes to frequent competitors. The events include rigorous races like the 15k run and 6 mile swim to fun games like the Krazy Kayak Kardboard Race where participants are given basic materials — tape and cardboard — and are timed while constructing a kayak and racing the course. Also on the less physical side of this community field day is the Tug of War competition, and various fishing competitions from spear fishing to the Kid’s Fishing Derby.
Jeff Farrell, board member of Semana Nautica and former Olympic swimming gold-medalist, said, “I first heard about the Semana Nautica when my son and I were into badminton in the 1980s, so we competed in the event. Back then it was held at a bar on De La Vina.”
Farrell explained that Semana Nautica originated when locals challenged sailors that were anchored off-shore with their fleet of battleships. He said the sailors eventually left the scene but it did not stop the Semana Nautica from becoming one of the largest events of its type in the country.
To find the perfect event to view, or even dive in, be sure to check out

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