The SoCal SUP community came out in force on the weekend to support some good racing and a good cause. The 2014 Stand Up For Clean Water event was held at Malibu and featured a who’s who of the paddling world, as well as one very large inflatable SUP.
Hundreds of paddlers turned up for the 5 mile, 1 mile and relay races, with all proceeds going to the LA Waterkeeper charity, which is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance and promotes the restoration of local beaches. We’re just waiting on the official results to come through and we’ll have them updated below. In the meantime enjoy some great pics of the action thanks to OnIt Pro. Seriously, how many tens of thousands of race pics have these guys taken over the years? They Facebook’d 1,497 photos from this weekend alone. I kid you not: → READ MORE
The UK’s paddling community came out in large numbers yesterday for one of the first big races of the year. The Head of the Dart race was held in Dartmouth, Devon and drew almost 150 paddlers, despite the fact that it’s still pretty darn cold in England this time of year.
Taking the overall victory by a comfortable margin was the UK’s winningest SUP racer, Ryan James, while Team GB representative Ollie Shilston won the battle of the 12’6 class and finished second overall. Coming home third was a rising youngster of the British scene, Pete Kosinski, a guy who trains on his own up in the middle of nowhere (Ireland) and who very graciously dragged this tired old racer home at the 2013 Battle of the Thames race (I still owe you a drink Pete). → READ MORE
Feel like doing an awesome downwind race? Then get yourself to Hawaii in July, because the Maui to Molokai SUP race (which covers a stretch of water often described as “The Best Downwind Run On The Planet”) has officially been announced for July 12th, 2014. There were recent suggestions of a date change, however it sounds like it’s officially locked in on its traditional weekend (two weeks out from the Molokai 2 Oahu race).
The Maui to Molokai, which I refer to as the little brother of Molokai 2 Oahu, is a 27 mile race that starts on Maui’s west coast and finishes in the Kaunakakai Harbor on Molokai. Paddlers enjoy some of the longest and steepest bumps in the world – you can almost just surf your way across the channel. → READ MORE
So who’s up for a downwinder?
Downwinding, aka the most fun you can have on a stand up paddleboard, has gotta be the epitome of stand up paddling fun (you’re not a card-carrying member of the Cult of SUP until you’ve done a downwinder). And the only thing better than a good downwinder is capturing an epic session in HD. So if you need a bit of motivation to get out there or just wanna sit back and watch some awesome downwind clips, here are three of the best… → READ MORE
As if Annabel Anderson’s trophy cabinet wasn’t full enough already, the Kiwi has gone and won yet another trophy. Or two. This time the awards weren’t from a race though, yet probably did more for her (and the sport’s) image than any SUP podium ever could.
The double-defending BOP champ took out the Sportswoman Of The Year and Overall Sportsperson Of The Year awards at the Central Otago Sports Awards last night. While nobody outside New Zealand has any idea where Otago is, think of it this way: It’s kinda like winning a trophy that says “You’re the best athlete in Southern California, period.” → READ MORE
Remember back in September 2013, when the Payette River Games came out of nowhere to announce the most lucrative prize purse in SUP history? Well time flies, because the event is now only 10 weeks away and competitor slots are selling out.
The 2014 Payette River Games are happening June 20-22 in the rather beautiful-looking country town of Cascade, Idaho and looks set to dish up one of the most unique & interesting SUP races of the year. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (on Mars) you’ll already be familiar with this event, but just in case you needed any extra reason to make the trip to Idaho, here are seven pretty good ones… → READ MORE
Remember how we mentioned that the ISA was off to Turkey, Casper Steinfath in tow, to promote SUP to the Olympic world at some big sports conference? Well that happened yesterday.
Along with International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre, Casper showed the gathered Olympic dignitaries what stand up paddling actually is with a brief but enthusiastic demonstration during the SportAccord convention. Granted it was held in a luxury hotel pool, which is a long way from the Ka’iwi Channel or the beach at Dana Point, but I’m sure the novelty value alone would have made everyone in attendance stop and take notice. And no doubt that was the main point of the whole exercise: Spread some basic awareness to those in power. → READ MORE
Thinking of heading up to Oregon for this year’s Gorge Paddle Challenge? Well now you’ve got twice as much reason to make the trip, because organisers have revealed this year’s GPC will feature not one but TWO downwind runs, with the awesomely-titled “Double Downwinder” race set to make its debut. In what is perhaps a world first, this year’s Gorge race will feature back-to-back runs on the famous Hood River downwind course, with both times counting towards the overall event rankings.
The “Double Downwinder” is exactly what it sounds like: You finish one downwinder, hop on the shuttle bus back to the start line and do it all over again. I’ve never heard of a SUP race holding two consecutive downwinders but when you’ve got conditions as good as the Gorge then it makes a whole lotta sense. Everyone goes there for the downwinding, so why not give people more of what they want? → READ MORE
One of the longest races, most unique and most grueling races in the world of SUP racing happened last month, yet if you’re not from the UK you probably didn’t even realise it existed. On the 22nd of March (yeah I know, I’m a bit late as well), the 2014 Great Glen Paddle took place in the Scottish Highlands, with a small but very bold band of stand up paddlers tackling the course for the first time.
The Great Glen Paddle, which has been running for several years as a kayak race, is like an ultra-marathon on the water. The course, all 93 kilometres (57 miles) of it, stretches from one side of Scotland to the other via a series canals and lakes (or lochs, including the most famous of them all, Loch Ness).
Paddlers have the option of either doing it in one day, or camping overnight halfway and making it a two-day voyage. However in a show of true British stubbornness, every single one of the SUPs decided to have a crack at the one day, 93 kilometre, non-stop course, which meant the first four or five hours were paddled in the dark. And temperatures were hovering just above zero. Oh and at one point it was snowing. WTF? → READ MORE
One of the more unique races in the paddling world went down yesterday, with the California Coastal Relay testing the limits of competitors in the original mecca of stand up, Orange County. There were two courses: 38 miles from Long Beach down to Dana Point or, if you wanted to keep it more realistic, an 18 miler from Newport to Dana. Paddlers completed the massive course in teams of two, with set changeover points every five or six miles.
The race enjoyed some very nice Spring weather and many of Southern California’s paddling community alumni showed up to enjoy it. Everyone from Danny Ching, Thomas Maximus, Brandi Baksic, Jimmy Terrell, Kristin Thomas, Chance Fielder, Taylor Rambo right through to honourary Californians Jamie Mitchell and Lina Augaitis were on show. → READ MORE
While everyone in Rincon was cruising round in boardies yesterday, spare a thought for our friends in Europe, who today were once again racing in wetsuits on the west coast of France.
Despite a growing scene right across the continent, France is definitely still the main engine room for SUP racing Europe, being home to probably half a dozen of the region’s fastest 10 guys as well as a good chunk of the actual races. One of the regular French tours is the Swell Beach Race Series in Brittany, which, despite often being held in freezing conditions, always attracts a good mix of talented and newbie paddlers alike.
I love following this particular little tour because we get to see who is in form and who has improved from one race to the next. For example today’s winner, Arthur Daniel, seems to be getting quicker and quicker and is definitely a name to watch in the future. → READ MORE
Ryan Helm has taken out the Rincon Beachboy SUP race in Puerto Rico for the second year running today, as over 300 paddlers hit the water for a record-breaking 6th annual event.
Ryan finished the 8 mile (12.8km) elite course in just under 1 hour and 10 minutes, though crossing the line just 30 seconds back was rising Californian dark horse, Sean Pangelinan. Mexico’s Javier Jimenez, who trains with Ryan and Fernando Stalla down in Sayulita, showed his fighting spirit to steal third overall on his 12’6, while “local guy” Bill Kraft finished 4th overall to take one for the islands. Over in the women’s race it was Helm’s Riviera teammate, Helga Goebel, proving too strong, beating not only all of the women but almost two-thirds of the men as well.
The 2014 Rincon Beachboy set a new record with a massive 310 competitors (from as young as 4 right up to 72 years old) descending on Puerto Rico’s west coast for the race. The event also helped raise $6,000 for charity, while the top guys and girls got to share in $16,000 cash prize money (which we were assured was paid out on the spot). This race has flown under the radar a little bit in the past, but it sounds like a massive, well organised event so I’m sure it’ll attract a stellar crowd next year. Could this be the Caribbean’s answer to the Carolina Cup? → READ MORE
A small but elite field of young talent has launched the 2014 Stand Up World Series in Brazil this weekend, with Connor Baxter drawing first blood by making it a clean sweep of both the Sprint and Long Distance races. Meanwhile on the women’s side it was Angie Jackson all the way, with the reinvigorated Aussie proving too strong for a select group of local and international paddlers.
The Connor/Kai rivalry, the recurring theme of the 2013 Series, returned on Day One of the Alagoas Pro, with the two superstars battling all the way to the finish line in the sprints. Connor got the win by half a second, while one wave behind was Aussie Jake Jensen, a paddler that I (and many others in Australia) have tipped to be one of the World Series title contenders this year. Coming home 4th was Zane Schweitzer, while rounding out the top 5 in the sprints was the Danish Viking, Casper Steinfath. → READ MORE
If you need a nice lofty goal to keep you motivated then here’s a good one for ya. Travis Grant, reigning Molokai champ and newly minted Green Card holder, scored an epic downwinder in his backyard on Oahu yesterday, averaging 14km/h (8.7mph) and regularly hitting bursts of over 20km/h (13mph/14mph). Trav is clearly having fun in his newly-adopted home of Hawaii.
Yesterday’s downwinder was on the classic Hawaii Kai run, which stretches from Hawaii Kai, around Diamond Head and finishes at top end of Waikiki. It’s been the site of some classic downwind races in past years and when it’s on it rivals any downwind run in the world. → READ MORE
In what is a fairly major announcement (to put it mildly), several of the biggest names in paddling have confirmed they’re working with several of the biggest races to create a new tour/ranking system for the sport of SUP racing. The basic story goes like this: There are a lot of paddlers who want to celebrate the grassroots nature of this sport by recognising and giving back to the events that have already provided so much for both them and the wider SUP community in general.
The idea is to take the seven biggest, standalone SUP races that already exist, connect them via a simple points system (where at each race, paddlers will earn x amount of points for finishing 1st, 2nd 3rd, 10th, 20th, etc…) and then rank everyone on a big ‘leaderboard’ that’s based on each paddler’s best four or five results of the year. This kind of thing – grouping the established major events together in a common tour – has been talked about on and off for as long as I can remember, but now, after a sudden burst of action behind the scenes, it’s apparently becoming a reality. It’s called the “SUP Champions Tour” and I think it’s a pretty bold new proposal.
The Champions Tour tour would see the paddlers and the events work together to try and unify the racing scene (at least to some extent) through this simple ranking system. Competitors would earn Champions Tour points based on their result at each of big races (Carolina, OluKai, BOP, etc). These points will be put up on the Champions Tour Leaderboard, which in turn will give both the paddlers and the fans something to follow throughout the season. At the end of the year we’ll be able to see where everybody ranks based solely on the major races that have, up until now, been well supported but totally isolated from each other.
That’s the idea anyway. It goes without saying that this whole thing intrigues me a great deal, not only as the person who runs SUPracer.com but as a fan of the sport in general. So over the past few days, I’ve been chatting with a bunch of the guys and girls involved with this effort in order to try and get the full story on why it’s happening, what it’s all about and where it’s going.
While the background to the SUP Champions Tour is a long and interesting tale, I think I can best sum it up like this: → READ MORE