The biggest change to the Battle of the Paddle this year is the introduction of “Elite” classes into the Distance Race. At previous Battles, Sunday’s long distance race was a shootout between the big boards, with the money going to the first few guys and girls over the line (which was almost always the unlimited paddlers).
But not this year. As SUP Magazine highlights, the 2012 Battle of the Paddle Distance Race will focus on 14′ boards for men and 12’6″ boards for women. Or at least that’s where the money will be (and so that’s where most of the pros will be as well).
There’s still going to be a “premium cash prize” for the first male and female over the line (which will presumably be unlimited paddlers) but there’s been a clear shift away from the unlimited class, towards the 14′ and 12’6″ boards.
Some pro paddlers are totally for it (“levels the playing field”, “easier to travel”, etc) while some are totally against it (“backward step for the sport”, “killing innovation” etc).
SUP Magazine has a great article on the topic, so go check out their post for more, including some comments from top unlimited paddlers Rob Rojas and Thomas Maximus:
Basically; the unlimited guys aren’t happy, but the 14′ guys are. Yep, this is probably going to be an endless debate.
I remember last year Chase Kosterlitz started a thread on Facebook arguing that it shouldn’t be all about the unlimiteds. And he made some good points. Now this year it’s the reverse, with the unlimited guys feeling ripped off. And they make some good points too… I’m just glad I’m not a race director :O