– “15 gummy bears, three chocolate bars and a couple of SUP world titles.”
“Ooh, I’ll trade you half a pack of M&Ms for your world titles!”
– “Nah, you can have ’em. I’m sick of world titles anyway.”
And just like to kids on Halloween, it appears the world titles of SUP have been handed out like candy this year.
By my count, there were 44 individual “world titles” awarded this season — 22 for men and 22 for women.
Even if ignore the confusing number of junior, master and surfing world titles (which would be generous), we’re still left with at least 18 top-level titles — six from each of the “Three Acronyms” (ISA, ICF, APP). Several athletes won multiple, which means we “only” have 12 different world champions.
12 world champions…
How the hell do we promote a sport that has 12 world champions in a single year? How do we market a sport that has no clear winner, no clear leadership and no clear direction. How do we explain the “sport” of stand up paddleboarding to the wider sporting world? How do we even explain it to ourselves? → READ MORE
The “Danish Viking” Casper Steinfath has defended his Red Bull Heavy Water title in San Francisco today after surviving what is surely the gnarliest and most chaotic race the sport has ever seen.
The event certainly lived up to its name as the small but highly-elite band of competitors battled stiff headwind, strong ocean currents and 6-8ft waves. But the biggest obstacle was the fog, which rolled in mid-race and reduced visibility at the Ocean Beach finish line to virtually zero.
The athletes couldn’t even see the beach when they were turning the first outside buoy, nervously paddling like “gorillas in the mist” through one of the heaviest surf breaks in California. → READ MORE
Red Bull Heavy Water (Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool)
In brief: The big-wave destruction derbyrace known as ‘Red Bull Heavy Water’ has been called on for this Friday, October 18 after conditions were deemed gnarly enough to run what is arguably the most extreme event in the sport.
A few dozen bold paddlers will take to the waters off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach for an event that is part-race, part-battle for survival in a quest for a share of the $75k prize purse.
Such a record-level of prize money is sure to attract plenty of top talent, led by defending champ Casper Steinfath and for the first time also including female paddlers after last year’s “Paddle for Equality” protest.
The race is set for 10am Friday California time so look for updates and results on Friday afternoon.
Just when you thought the SUP racing season might be winding down, BANG!
It looks like the next two days will be the biggest weekend of the year as six international events take centre stage. From Scotland to Sardinia and Osaka to the Alps, let’s call it “Super Saturday” in September (even though one of these events insists on running Sunday).
“It was f#$%ing nuts! I’ve never felt so alive and focused in my life…”
That’s how Casper Steinfath described today’s epic Red Bull Heavy Water race to me shortly after he triumphantly crossed the line in San Francisco Bay, with the Danish Viking surviving massive surf at Ocean Beach to claim victory in what is surely the craziest SUP race ever witnessed.
Casper picked up a record $20,000 prize money after beating home a small but all-star field of paddlers, many of whom didn’t even finish after the event lived up to its name and delivered arguably the biggest waves ever seen in a SUP race. → READ MORE
Australia’s Terrene Black has made it two from two on the APP Tour, mirroring her Maui result at the Japan Pro-Am after outlasting Fiona Wylde, Candice Appleby and Sonni Honscheid in a weekend of rollercoaster results and conditions that produced a virtual tie in the small but elite women’s field.
The result boosts Terrene into the ultra-exclusive ‘Top Five Club’ on the updated World Rankings, with the Japan Pro-Am scoring 38% on the women’s Race Index. → READ MORE
In brief: SUP Racer is currently off the grid (sort of) exploring Iceland in support of the Starboard.Blue initiative, but while the site will be a little quiet over the next few days, there’s still plenty of racing happening around the world this weekend.
The most elite event this week is happening just south of Tokyo: The Japan Pro-Am will feature more than a dozen top ranked young guns and a few local dark horses keen to cause an upset. This is the second of six racing events on the 2017 APP Tour following the Maui Pro-Am back in May, and you can watch it live all weekend. → READ MORE
In brief: Michael Booth and Sonni Hönscheid have saluted on day two of the 5-star Maui Pro-Am after winning a long, hot, windless Maliko downwind run that tested the endurance and stamina of the small but highly elite field of assembled athletes.
Despite the relatively flat conditions, there was just enough texture on the water to break up any draft trains, with Boothy powering away from the field early and crossing the line about a minute clear of Connor Baxter. Mo Freitas was another minute further adrift in a strong performance that saw him claim the overall event crown. → READ MORE
The 2017 APP Tour kicks off this weekend, with the Maui Pro-Am marking the first of six racing stops for the Waterman League’s much hyped new global circuit that replaces the old Stand Up World Series.
A strong lineup of talent has descended on Maui for this five-star event, with the men’s side in particular looking set to be uber-competitive. → READ MORE
Two weeks ago, I sent out a survey to each of the world’s top-ranked paddlers asking which events they’d be competing in this year. The goal was to paint a picture of the biggest races in the world, which I think is not only an interesting insight for everyone in the sport to analyse, it also helps me to set clear ‘star ratings’ that will produce an ever more accurate World Rankings leaderboard.
The Waterman League has announced the final schedule for its bold new APP World Tour, the rebranded version of the old Stand Up World Series that comes with a lot of new hype alongside a major new investment round that may finally see the League fulfill the ambitious vision it’s been working towards for more than half a decade.
After a determined but under-funded five years that saw the World Series run on a shoe-string and often encounter financial difficulties, the Waterman League has landed a multi-million dollar investment from a Hong Kong-based private equity firm that will give them a fresh new start and secure the elite circuit for at least the next few years. → READ MORE