After tallying up the results from seven of the biggest races of the year, Annabel Anderson and Danny Ching have come out on top in the inaugural SUP Champions Tour.
Billed as having the world’s best paddlers at the worlds biggest/most important events, the Champions Tour was created to encourage the elite guys and girls to compete more than just once a year (i.e. not only at the Battle of the Paddle).
The Tour was also designed to “give back” to the events that have helped grow the sport (such as the Carolinas and the Gorges). The seven races were Carolina, OluKai, Lost Mills, the Showdown, the Gorge and the two BOP events (Elite Race and the Distance).
You can check out the complete SUP Champions Tour leaderboard to find out who ranked where, but the top 10 women and men are:
1st: Annabel Anderson
2nd: Lina Augaitis
3rd: Sonni Hönscheid
4th: Candice Appleby
5th: jenny Kalmbach
6th: Angie Jackson
7th: Fiona Wylde
8th: Andrea Moller
9th: Kelsa Gabeheart
10th: Talia Decoite
1st: Danny Ching
2nd: Travis Grant
3rd: Connor Baxter
4th: Georges Cronsteadt
5th: Kai lenny
6th: Jake Jensen
7th: Chase Kosterlitz
8th: Eric Terrien
9th: Slater Trout
10th: Beau O’Brian
Nobody would question Annabel as being the fastest and most consistent female in the world. Likewise I don’t think anyone can touch Danny in head-to-head drag race, however waves (Battle) and bumps (OluKai) are the great equaliser, so overall I would have given Connor the nod as the year’s top performing male.
So what’s next for the SUP Champions Tour?
The fact it didn’t receive much fanfare throughout the year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole premise was to simply get the best paddlers competing at the biggest events. In that way it was a success, at least to an extent… There are still a lot of good paddlers that didn’t complete the minimum number of races, though the leaderboard looks a lot fuller than what we’d see on the World Series rankings, aka the only other legitimate Tour in the world of SUP racing.
And how about the Champions Tour’s goal of helping grow the events that deserve it most? While the Battle was always going to draw the whole world to Salt Creek, the Champions Tour can probably claim some of the credit in an increase of eliteness/exposure for Carolina, Lost Mills and the Gorge.
There’s still some work to do though. Just like the World Series doesn’t have Danny, Travis and Georges, nor did the Champions Tour have the support of Kai Lenny and a couple of the other young guns.
Though the simple fact that the SUP Champions Tour received more support overnight than the World Series has managed to attract in three years shows just how desperate the elite paddling community is for something more legit.
However while it’s a great idea in theory, the Champions Tour needs somebody running it, otherwise it’ll just remain an idea. A great idea, but just an idea. So I’ll be watching closely to see what happens in 2015, but for now let’s celebrate the awesomely consistent performances of Danny and Annabel, as well as the big events that have helped grow our sport such as the Carolina Cup, the Battle, Lost Mills and the Gorge Paddle Challenge.