One of the most highly anticipated new events to come along in a long time is just days away: The inaugural Quiksilver Waterman’s Festival, aka the Jamie Mitchell Survivor Race, is set to light up Huntington Beach this Sunday. There’s a plethora of paddling races on offer, including traditional prone paddleboarding, open races and a Dash For Cash, however the main event will definitely be the Survivor SUP Race.
And what a race it’s shaping up to be, with an absolutely STACKED field set to descend on southern California this week.
With paddling legend Jamie Mitchell at the helm, the might of Quiksilver behind it and a $30,000 prize purse on the line, this event has attracted an all-star lineup that will make it one of the most competitive races of the year. Just some of the guys on show this Sunday include Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Titouan Puyo, Danny Ching, Mo Freitas, Michael Booth, Slater Trout, Giorgio Gomez, Jake Jensen, Molokai hero and freshly minted Infinity Speed Freak Toby Cracknell, Ryan Helm, Josh Riccio, Martin Letourneur, Bullet Obra, Lincoln Dews, Leo Nika, … yeah you get the idea, it’s stacked.
It’s going to be a cracker of a race on the women’s side as well, with the likes of Annabel Anderson, Candice Appleby, Shae Foudy, Lexi Alston and SoCal’s finest getting ready to rumble around the unique, knockout course that is the “Survivor” race.
See our full coverage of the JM Survivor Race for more
I actually expect the race to exceed its 40% base score quite easily, at least on the men’s side, with my early calculations pegging it around 46%. If it wasn’t for a quite-literally-last-minute trip to Rio from the Olympic-minded Casper Steinfath, who will now miss the race, it probably would have become just the second event of the year to crack the magic 50% barrier.
It’s all happening this Sunday, August 14th, and we’ll have results and all the good photos and videos up as soon as they happen, so check back on the weekend to see who scored a spot on the podium and bagged the most points.
So, now that we’re officially into the second half of the season, what’s next?
Following the Quiksilver Waterman’s Festival will be another massive showdown up in Oregon, with the iconic Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge set to attract a big lineup of international stars once again this year. To honour its status as a true “Major” of the sport, we’ve got the Gorge pegged as a 6-star, 60% race, however I’m still deciding exactly how that’ll be ranked…
Last year we had two separate results at the Gorge (the Elite Course Race and the Double Downwinder) but the trend this year has been towards one event/one result. It’s a little tricky to make one result out of the two separate events in Hood River though, so I’m still running the numbers and trying to decide what the best points format is.
We could just combine the times to form one overall result, however if the wind is howling in the Double Downwinder then big time gaps will surely open up, meaning the relatively tight course race results will be almost irrelevant. There’s no perfect solution, so I’ll just keep playing with the numbers and make the fairest call next week (though I’d say I’ll probably leave it as two separate results, which would be exactly the same as last year).
Looking further ahead, there are plenty more big events happening in the final few months of the season.
The Japan Cup on September 10th/11th is probably the most under-rated event of the year. This week I’ve increased it from 2-star to 3-star status, due to recent interest from several top ranked athletes. Apart from being a great event, The Japan Cup will have a huge prize purse of approximately ~$29,500 USD (3,000,000 Japanese Yen), which is no doubt an attractive drawcard for many international competitors.
At the same time The Japan Cup is lighting up Chigasaki, one of the longest races in the world will be happening over in Holland, the classic 11 City Tour. Despite never attracting an all-star lineup, the 11 Cities has been slowly but surely building its depth of talent on the start line over the past couple of years. Though the real reason it gets a recognised on the SUP Racer World Rankings for season 2016 is because it’s arguably the greatest challenge in the sport (with apologies to Molokai). This is a HARD race to win… Conquering the 11 Cities requires a unique mix of physical endurance and mental strength — this five day event has broken many a fine paddler, and the winners truly deserve as much recognition as they can possibly get.
Other events on the world rankings radar include the men’s-only Red Bull Heavy Water event in San Francisco, which is loosely scheduled some time in September with a mammoth purse of $50k, including a world record $20,000 for the winner. I’ll take a closer look at its star rating as soon as the event gets the green light, though given the interest its already generated I’d say Heavy Water will probably slot in around the 40% mark.
There are also two World Series events tentatively scheduled for October in San Diego and then Turtle Bay. The World Series races always get a decent score on the Race Index, however we’ll wait for 100% official confirmation that these two events are going ahead before we award them official star ratings.
But of course the grand daddy of them all is the Pacific Paddle Games, aka BOP 2.0, which is set to take over Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, California from September 30th – October 2nd. The PPGs are one of only three 6-star events all year (along with Carolina and the Gorge), however I expect it to once again blow past its guaranteed minimum Race Index score — last year it peaked above 80% on the men’s side to have a massive impact on the World Rankings.
And although the climax of the season is early October, the racing continues almost all the way til the end of the year, including the big ISA Worlds in mid-November, which this year head to the tropical paradise location of Fiji. The Worlds are the only event that clearly count twice on the World Rankings, with both the course race and distance race locked in as 4-star, 40% races (the event was originally 5-star, however it was bumped down when the ISA bizarrely decided not to include more women).
Following that, we’ve got two final races in early December set to score a few more points: The 3-star King of the Cut, Australia’s premiere SUP race, and the epic Paris Crossing in France, which boasts the largest single start line (more than 500 paddlers) in the world of stand up paddling.
To make things a little clearer, here’s the updated Season 2016 Star Ratings (with potential changes to the Gorge to be decided next week).