2016 Semana Nautica Event Recaps

The 79th Semana Nautica Summer Sports Festival is underway in Santa Barbara, attracting thousands of competitors and fans to a handful of special events from June 29 through July 10.

The festival is a Santa Barbara tradition dating back to 1933 when United States Navy sailors started competing against local athletes. The festival has evolved into an assortment of competitions and community events built around the 4th of July holiday.

Below are some highlights from some of this year’s competitions.

6-mile swim winner

Abby Bergman

6-mile swim winner

Moby Coquillard


Already the most grueling event of Semana Nautica, a prevailing head wind added to the difficulty faced by the athletes swimming in the annual 6-Mile Ocean Swim from Goleta Beach to Hendrys Beach.

Moby Coquillard battled the challenging conditions to win the race in two hours, thirty-five minutes and four seconds. Chip Blankenhorn reached dry land in second place (4th overall) with a time of 2:41.24, followed by Rick Hubbard in third place at 2:43.42.

The women’s champion was Abby Bergman who came in second overall. The 19-year-old’s time was 2:39.27, edging Kristina Hill by nine seconds. Kelly Kosmo secured a top-five overall placement in a time of 2:42.16.

The west-blowing wind produced a consistent chop aimed directly against the 39 competitors who started the race.

“You just can’t get into a rhythm with your stroke,” said Coquillard, 53. “You just have to rotate yourself through the water and not get frustrated with it. So I just started laughing every time I’d get slapped in the face. About one every ten breaths I’d get water in my face and couldn’t take a breath.”

Coqiullard is a former Stanford swimmer and a veteran open-water swimmer having participated in a Maui Channel crossing, Trans-Tahoe Relay and Alcatraz Sharkfest.

Bergman, 20, is preparing for a solo swim of the Catalina Channel in two weeks. She said the 6-mile was good practice because of the challenge.

“It’s pretty choppy and usually against the current,” Bergman described. “Definitely one of the toughest race conditions I’ve ever done. And top-10 toughest training swims.”

Find full 6-Mile Swim results HERE.


Semana Nautica Biathlon

Cuyler Gabriel, left, and Becky Smith, right, became three-time winners of the Semana Nautica Biathlon.

Cuyler Gabriel returned to East Beach on Thursday to defend his title while Becky Smith came from behind to capture the women’s race in the 2016 Semana Nautica Biathlon.

The 5-mile biathlon consists of a four-mile beach run, then a 1-mile ocean swim. Gabriel won it for the third consecutive year. It’s also Smith’s third victory in the Semana Nautica Biathlon. Her past wins were 2012 and 2014.

Gabriel, a Santa Barbara native, swam competitively in high school and runs cross country and track & field at Cornell College in Iowa. The 19-year-old is training for the USA Triathlon Age-Group National Championships in August.

Gabriel raced out in front of the pack from the start and never trailed. His winning time was 47 minutes and two seconds. There was a steady ocean breeze on the water that created some chop. Overall conditions were relatively tame.

“The swimming was the challenging part,” Gabriel said. “The wind waves, just the time in between them was really difficult for me to handle, especially on the way upwind.”

Smith was second when she entered the ocean for the swim leg but managed to overtake second-place finisher Cindy Abrami. Smith’s time was 1:01.01.

Stepan Paul was second overall and Steven Hunt came in third.

Complete Results HERE.


Semana Nautica 15K

Runners reach Goleta Beach about two-thirds of the way through their 15K race.

Sergey Sushchikh and Addi Zerrenner were crowned 2016 Semana Nautica 15K champions on Monday morning at Hollister Elementary School.

Sushchikh set the standard on a new course in a time of 49 minutes and 30 seconds.  Ben Li, of Goleta, finished second in a time of 52:06. Matt Organista, of Carpinteria, captured the bronze in third place with a time of 52:39.

Sushchikh, 23, ran for UCLA after a decorated high school career up the road at Dos Pueblos. He becomes a two-time champion having won previously in 2012.

Zerrenner, 20, triumphed after a pair of top-three results in 2011 and 2015. Like Sushchikh, Zerrenner was a star distance runner for Dos Pueblos before competing in the Pac 12. Zerrenner’s winning time was 59:02.

Gina Battaglia, 31, claimed second place for the women, followed by Adilene Aldapa, 19, in third place.

Full results HERE.

The 15K route was changed substantially to have runners utilize more of the Goleta Bike Path. Starting at Hollister Elementary, the course quickly found the Obern Trail Bike Path.  A detour loop towards the 101 Freeway used up three miles. Then runners headed towards Goleta Beach and UCSB before returning the way they came, without doing the 3-mile loop, to Hollister Elementary.


Semana Nautica Ocean Swim

The one-mile swim takes off at East Beach in Santa Barbara.

Chris Braden and Olivia Smith raced to their first victories in the Mullen & Henzell One-Mile Swim. Braden, 25, exited the water first in 20 minutes and 31 seconds. Smith came in at 22:50 and was fifth overall.

Ben Brewer came in second overall with a time of 21:33. Rounding out the top five were Taylor Steffen in 3rd and Myles Peck in 4th.

Adrienne Brown, in sixth overall, was the second female finisher followed by last year’s winner Karen Schultz (9th overall).

The swimmers entered the water in front of the Cabrillo Bath House at East Beach and followed the buoys towards Stearns Wharf. After making the turn and swimming parallel to the beach back to the starting point, progress was slowed as competitors experienced an increased chop and fought against the current. The water temperature was listed at 63 degrees.

“It went really well out there. I just tried to swim as hard as I could from the start,” Braden said. “I knew someone was with me the last couple hundred meters, and that’s kind of my week spot in swimming is the sprint at the end, so I just wanted to get out as hard as I could and warm up.”

Braden is a Santa Barbara local who competed for the University of Colorado Triathlon Team. He has been winning all of the local ocean-swimming events of late, triumphing in the Nite Moves 1K on Wednesday and Reef and Run’s 1 Mile on Thursday.

Smith has been doing the same on the women’s side. Smith is a soon-to-be NCAA swimmer, heading to UC Davis in the fall after recently graduating from San Marcos High School. She was second in the Nite Moves’ 1K on Wednesday and first place at Reef and Run’s 1 Mile on Thursday.

“It got a little choppy coming home but other than that it was really nice conditions,” Smith said.

Find full results HERE


Chris Braden - Semana Nautica

Chris Braden makes his exit during the 2016 Semana Nautica Three-Mile Swim.

Chris Braden and Olivia Smith backed up their one-mile victories on Saturday by returning to East Beach on Sunday and winning the Semana Nautica Three-Mile Swim.

Both were able to match their 1-mile pace from the day before across the 3-mile course. Braden’s winning time was one hour and 10 seconds. Smith came in at 1:04.12, barely edging Karen Schultz by five seconds. Braden held a wide lead for a good chunk of the race. Myles Peck was second almost two and a half minutes after Braden.

“I was just worried about the cold mainly so I started out hard to try and warm up,” Braden said.

Braden was shivering for a few minutes after finishing but said using Vaseline on his body and having the sun emerge helped fight the cold.

The 25-year-old was able maintain his same pace in the three mile as he did in the shorter one-mile race. He said he didn’t feel any pressure from behind after his fast start.

Smith dealt with a stiffer challenge with Schultz on her heels.

“That was a pretty hard race,” Smith said. “I thought I was going to be able to cruise and kind of take it easy but I had a lot of good competition out there so it pushed me a little bit harder.

“Coming home was really hard. It was definitely a sprint to keep ahead of the two behind me.”

Find full results HERE

The Semana Nautica 3-Mile Swim was recently ranked No. 25 in America for best open-water swimming races by OpenWaterSwimming.com.


CBVA Men's Champions

CBVA Men’s Finalists (L t R): John Moran, Adam Cabbage, Shane Cervantes, Gabe Ospina.

Adam Cabbage and John Moran topped Shane Cervantes and Gabriel Ospina, 21-16, 21-16, in the championship match of Saturday’s Santa Barbara CBVA Open.

Cabbage and Moran controlled the match with strong defensive play from Cabbage and intimidating net play from the 6’5″ Moran.

Their familiarity with each other also made a difference. They have a long history of playing together including in a handful of events on the AVP Tour.

Twenty four teams started the day competing for $1,500 in prize money.

In the semifinals, the pairing of Ric Cervantes and Mike Stewart were topped by Moran and Cabbage 21-17, 21-13.  Jacob Landel and Chicory Roth were ousted by Cervantes/Ospina, 21-15, 21-16.

Find a detailed report of the tournament HERE from Barry Punzal of Noozhawk.


It’s the seventh year that UCSB Men’s Water Polo coach and NBC Olympics announcer Wolf Wigo has organized an ocean water polo exhibition at Stearns Wharf.  The inflatable goals and sidelines are set up in the open-water space between the Harbor Restaurant and the Santa Barbara Sea Center, allowing for spectators to line the rails on three sides.

“It’s just one of the coolest places to play water polo,” Wigo said. “Today the sun’s out, it’s a beautiful day, the water’s not too bad, and you get all the tourists watching, and it’s a great time.”

Teams played a round-robin format in an upper and lower division.

The wharf came alive with water polo on Saturday.

The wharf came alive with water polo on Saturday.