There have been seven editions of the Battle of the Paddle since the iconic race kicked off in 2008: 5x in California (2008-) and two in Hawaii (2010 & 2011). In 18 days time we’ll see the eighth edition while later this year we’ll see a third destination with the Battle of the Paddle Brazil, but until then let’s look at some random stats from the past five years.
From winningest paddlers to the most successful countries and a few random states for the trivia nerds, this is the Battle of the Paddle by the numbers…
Australia, California, Hawaii: The Three Powerhouses
The dominance by Australia, Hawaii and California at the Battle of the Paddle is clear. No other region comes close to matching their depth of paddling talent, at least not at this race.
Elite Race Top 5 Finishes:
New Zealand: 2
Elite Race Victories:
California : 8
New Zealand: 1
Amazingly, apart from the 2008 BOP, there has been an Australian, Californian and Hawaiian male finish in the top 5 at every single Elite Race…
Only Georges Cronsteadt (4th in California 2011) and Annabel Anderson (3rd in Cali 2011 and 1st last year) have been able to break the lock these three powerhouse regions have on the BOP.
Danny Ching has NEVER lost the Distance Race
The Man won the BOP California Distance Race in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Danny also won the 2010 & 2011 BOP Hawaii Distance Races. There was no Distance Race at the 2008 Battle of the Paddle, which means NO OTHER GUY has ever won* the Distance Race… that’s quite an incredible achievement.
If only we could bet on SUP racing, this would be easy money.
(*with respect to Rob Rojas who won on his Unlimited last year, though Danny won the Elite 14′ class)
Candice Appleby: 4 Elite Race wins
Danny Ching: 3
Jenny Kalmbach: 1
Chuck Patterson: 1
Jamie Mitchell: 1
Shakira Westdorp: 1
Travis Grant: 1
Connor Baxter: 1
Annabel Anderson: 1
Yep, only two paddlers have won more than once. I have a funny feeling this will change in 18 days time though…
Connor Baxter’s Meteoric Rise
After not competing in 2008 and finishing 19th in the 2009 (albeit after sustaining a major injury mid-race), Connor Baxter has charged through the ranks, culminating in his victory ahead of Jamie Mitchell and Danny Ching at the 2011 Battle of the Paddle. Connor will probably start favourite to won his second Elite Race later this month.
California 2008: did not compete
California 2009: 19th
Hawaii 2010: 8th
California 2010: 6th:
Hawaii 2011: 3rd
California 2011: 1st
California 2012: 3rd
California 2013: ?
The Top 5 women at the 2011 and 2012 California Battles were identical
Annabel, Candice, Jenny, Brandi, Gillian. The exact finishing order changed from year to year, but the podium didn’t.
Candice Appleby has raced in all seven Battles and never finished worse than second…
The Queen of the BOP has three runner-up finishes to go with her four victories.
Slater Trout was 13 when he competed in the very first Battle of the Paddle
He’s raced in every single Elite Race since. In 2009 Slater finished 2nd behind Jamie Mitchell and in front of Danny Ching. At age 14.
Another famous name that started young is Riggs Napoleon, who competed in the 2010 Battle of the Paddle Hawaii Elite Race aged just 12 and a half (he went on to complete the Molokai 2 Oahu race two months later…)
Growth of the Open Race
The Open Race at the Battle of the Paddle California might not have the big names that the Elite Race does, but it certainly has more participants. The race has continued to grow each year and was officially declared “Largest SUP Race Ever” by Guinness World Records at the 2012 event.
2008: 217 paddlers in the Open Race
Can it possibly keep growing this year?
Qualifying Heats for the Elite Race were introduced in 2011
At the 2010 Battle of the Paddle in California 129 guys lined up for the start of the Elite Race.
There was no cap on entries, so all you had to do was pay your money and you were straight into the most prestigious SUP race in the world. Anyone that’s competed in the Elite Race will know that 129 is waaaay too many guys to have on the course at one time (there were also 30 elite women, just to make it even more crowded), so in 2011 organisers introduced two qualifying heats and instantly made the average level of competition in the Elite Race Final much higher.
These days it’s quite an achievement to make the Final. At BOP 2013 I’m predicting that several well known names won’t even qualify, that’s how deep the field is running these days.
The full name of the BOP is the “Rainbow Sandals Gerry Lopez Battle Of The Paddle”
Just in case you somehow don’t know who the guy is (shame on you), Gerry Lopez is an absolute legend in the surfing world and an all around zen master. He has one of the most recognisable names in surfing and is universally respected around the world.
“Mr. Pipeline” is also good friends with the man who owns and manages the Battle of the Paddle, Jay “Sparky” Longley, the founder of Rainbow Sandals (the title sponsor and company that bankrolls this event).
Having Gerry’s name in the title of the biggest event in SUP reflects on another major event, the Pipe Masters. Surfing’s equivalent to the BOP has long been known as the “Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters” in honour of Gerry’s contribution to the sport, especially at Pipeline.
The Most Lucrative Race In The World
Back in 2008 the Battle of the Paddle started with a bang, offering an unprecedented $25,000 prize purse. Over the five years since, the money has remained unchanged yet still no other SUP race has been able to take the BOP’s crown as “most lucrative race in the world.” That’s changing however, with two or three events set to be announced in the next month that will offer above the $25k mark, but for now at least, the BOP remains king.
Interestingly, the first two years awarded $10,000 to the men’s Elite Race winners but since then it’s been scaled back to $5,000. Despite the explosive growth of SUP racing over the past few years, those 2x $10,000 cheques (Chuck Patterson in ’08 and Jamie Mitchell in ’09) still remain the single biggest prizes the sport has ever seen.
The Real World Championship
Despite not officially having “World Championship” in the event title, the Battle of the Paddle is unofficially known as the one true World Championship of SUP racing among the elite paddlers. There are several other events vying for the title, some more successfully than others, but the BOP is still the only race that attracts virtually all of the elite talent every single time.
The Battle of the Paddle is unmatched in terms of elite paddler participation and is only matched by the Molokai-2-Oahu in terms of prestige (with Molokai considered the ocean racing world champs while the BOP is the surf racing world champs).