The Sea Paddle NYC is an internationally renowned charity event, and serves as the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance’s primary fundraiser. Created in 2007, the 25-mile paddle around Manhattan is one of the premier stand up paddle board (SUP) and prone paddle events in the world.

For anyone who participates in such events, exhaustion becomes complete satisfaction. On Saturday, that was true for pro-surfers Kealii Mamala and Will Skudin, along with Long Beach local talent TJ Gumiela. They all took on the rivers of the city Saturday to complete the paddle journey.

It was a brilliant day on the water: the winds were perfect, the current was on their side, and the sun was shining. The participants started under the Brooklyn Bridge, headed north crossing the George Washington Bridge, and finished at Chelsea Pier. We followed these waterman from the boat, making sure they were hydrated, fueled and sane. “I was only thinking about the next stroke, not the miles ahead," Will told me on the cab ride back to the car. TJ had a smile of determination throughout the race.

Originally from Hawaii, Kealii chases some of the biggest waves throughout the world, and in the summer he makes his home in New York, coaching performance kids and supporting the East Coast surf community. “I am a fish,” Kealii tells me. He is always ready for the next challenge; yesterday's was in support autism charities and the Surfers' Environmental Alliance. Kealii was introduced to the world of SUP by his uncle on the North Shore in the late '90s. As the sport grew popularity, so did Kealii’s passion for this new way to ride waves.

Photos and words by Andreea Waters.