It’s almost time.
We’re just 12 hours away from the first major race of the season, the 7th Annual West Marine Carolina Cup, with the dozens of the world’s best paddlers and hundreds of weekend warriors set to take over Wrightsville Beach tomorrow morning.
But if you couldn’t make it to North Carolina this year don’t worry: We’re going to bring you all the action with our Carolina Cup Facebook Live Stream presented by Quickblade Paddles from 10am Saturday.
Don’t expect an ESPN level production, but do expect a front row seat for one of the biggest and most intensely-competitive races of the year.
The main event, the 13 mile Elite Graveyard Race, begins at 10am local time, which is 7am in California, 6pm in France and midnight Saturday night in Australia (Google “What’s the time in Carolina” to get your bearings).
While you’re waiting, here’s the elite race start list so you know exactly who to watch out for tomorrow, plus a replay of our preview show and some top 10 predictions.
See you in the morning.
Full Replay of our Quickblade Preview & Predictions Live Show
Thanks to everyone that tuned in for our live show with Quickblade’s Jim Terrell and special guests on the eve of the race. That was good fun.
If you missed it and want to hear our thoughts on the big race (plus some interesting insights from Travis Grant, Kelly Margetts and others) here’s the full replay:
2017 Carolina Cup – Elite Men Start List
If you want to follow the race from home and maybe throw out a few bold predictions of your own, here are the top guys that’ll be lining up at 10am tomorrow morning.
(Note: I’ve only listed guys ranked in the top 50 — there will be closer to 150 competitors in total)
Green = competing; grey = not competing. Obviously.
|17||Vinnicius Martins||86.64||JP Australia||Brazil|
|18||Trevor Tunnington||83.63||Starboard||New Zealand|
|19||Lincoln Dews||83.33||JM Paddleboards||Australia|
|24||Kenny Kaneko||65.60||JP Australia||Japan|
|25||Marcus Hansen||57.00||NSP||New Zealand|
|39||Chase Kosterlitz||33.36||JP Australia||USA|
|40||Manatea Bopp du Pont||27.43||Starboard||Tahiti|
2017 Carolina Cup – Elite Women Start List
The women’s field is much shallower than the men’s this year, with a few of the top ladies either injured or missing.
I don’t have the complete start list on hand, but you can check out my top 10 women’s predictions below to get an idea of the top ladies that are here in Carolina.
Boss Man’s Bold Predictions
Obviously this is an extremely difficult race to predict, at least on the men’s side, with about 30 guys that could realistically crack the top 10.
But the real x-factor is the wind.
If it blows strong as expected, look for the downwind masters like Titou, Trav, Mo, Connor, Beau O’Brian, etc to break away early and leave the stronger flat water guys with all the work to do in the mid part of the 13 mile course.
If it’s flat, and the weather here in Carolina is unpredictable to say the least, then Boothy will be nearly impossible to beat while dark horses such as Bruno Hasulyo will be right up there as well.
Bruno is my official dark horse pick: If the ocean goes calm overnight, I expect this guy to blitz it and finish top 3, however he’ll struggle if it’s too windy.
The other dark horses are the Tahitian outrigger stars Steeve Teihotaata and Rete Ebb. They easily have the talent to finish top 5, but they’re still somewhat unpredictable and could just as easily finish outside the top 15.
I’m also keeping a close eye on Josh Riccio after his impressive string of results over the past month. Definitely a solid bet for the top 10.
The forecast says 15-20 knot downwind for the race start at 10am, however it’s gradually easing off later in the morning and will only be 10-15 knots closer to the finish. So kind of somewhere in the middle – not really a true ocean/downwind race but enough of a breeze to break up the packs and make things interesting.
But anyway, enough rambling and hedging of bets, here’s how I’m
guessing predicting it’ll play out tomorrow.
(Updated Saturday morning with slight adjustments)
Predictions: Top 10 Men
1. Michael Booth
2. Titouan Puyo
3. Connor Baxter
4. Travis Grant
5. Danny Ching
6. Mo Freitas
7. Georges Cronsteadt
8. Arthur Arutkin
9. Bruno Hasulyo
10. Beau O’Brian
– – – – – – – – –
On the women’s side, I just cannot see anybody matching Annabel Anderson. Perhaps if it’s a strong downwind start, Fiona will beat her to the inlet, but after that Annabel will be too strong. Remember that Fiona beat Annabel by five minutes at the Gorge last year, however Carolina is only about 25% ocean vs 75% flat water, so I think the world number one’s strength will be too much for the young star.
Though the one to watch could be Olivia Piana from France, who picked up 2x silver medals in Fiji during the ISA Worlds. Olivia is highly under-rated and is a very solid bet for the top three in my opinion. Also keep an eye on Kiwi Penelope Strickland, who won gold at the Worlds and absolutely loves rough ocean paddling.
I’m also particularly excited to see how some of the up-and-coming and lesser-known names – Hannah Hill, Susak Molinero, etc – perform out there tomorrow. We’ll see a few fresh faces in the top 10 this year for sure.
We’re going to be following the leaders for most of our live broadcast, and because the men and women race together the ladies sometimes get lost in the packs. But we’ll do our best to park our boat in a couple of spots along the course to give you a closer look at how the women’s race is progressing.
Predictions: Top 10 Women
1. Annabel Anderson
2. Olivia Piana
3. Fiona Wylde
4. Penelope Strickland
5. Seychelle Hattingh
6. Lena Ribeiro
7. Susak Molinero
8. Hannah Hill
9. April Zilg
10. Carter Graves
Live Stream Starts @ 10am Saturday
So there you go. That’s who I think will be on the podium. But one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a hell of a race out there tomorrow.
Tune in to our Carolina Cup Facebook Live Stream from 10am local time* and find out exactly how it all plays out. The race starts at 10am but we should be on air about 10-15 minutes before that for a quick little preview.
NOTE: The live stream will be on SUP Racer’s Facebook page, not here on the site.
* 10am Saturday Carolina = 4am Hawaii, 7am California, 6pm France, midnight Saturday night in Australia; Google “What’s the time in Carolina” to get your bearings.