Tahitian paddling legend and current world number nine Georges Cronsteadt will officially be racing for the new ‘425’ Pro Team in season 2017 as the exodus from SIC continues.
Georges¹, who has been a permanent fixture on the international circuit over the past six years, joins 425 (aka “Addicted 2 SUP”) as he looks to retain his ‘King of Tahiti’ crown for a little while longer despite a new wave of young outrigger heroes following his lead and focusing on stand up paddling.
After some mixed results over the past couple of years, Georges finished season 2016 on a high note by claiming bronze for Tahiti at the memorable ISA Worlds in Fiji. Consistent results at the majors, including a strong finish at the Carolina Cup for the third year in a row and a battle all the way to the line with Connor Baxter in the PPGs distance race, saw the former outrigger champion jump back inside the world’s top 10 where he’s been for most of his career.
Known as both “425” and “Addicted 2 SUP” (Addicted 2 SUP = A2S = 425), this new boutique brand was founded by Tahitian paddlers last January, and while it’s now based in Bali it still has strong roots to the French-speaking islands.
Georges has actually been paddling 425 boards for a couple of months now, dating back to the ISA Worlds in Fiji, but now the news is official (he was using 425 paddles even earlier–as far back as the Lost Mills race at the end of May).
As he approaches 40, Georges may not be as nimble in the short course races as some of the guys half his age, however there are few paddlers that can match his raw power, efficiency and speed in the long distance events, especially when conditions are grueling.
A three-time champion of the uber-prestigious ‘Super Aito’ race, the Super Bowl of outrigger racing (or rudderless Va’a as it’s known in Tahiti), Georges was the first of the ‘Tahitian Army’ to make the switch to SUP back in 2009/2010. In the years since, his pioneering move has paved the way for a new generation of Va’a specialists-turned-SUP-racers that includes Niuhiti Buillard, Rete Ebb and Steeve Teihotaata, with dozens more dark horse contenders waiting for their opportunity to compete on the international stage.
Georges was a regular at the Battle of the Paddle in the early days but struggled to find the necessary sponsorship to complete a full international season, briefly spending time with early race teams such as C4 Waterman. His travel schedule changed dramatically after signing with Team SIC in 2013, and the ‘Raging Bull’ soon became a regular at the big events.
Although he suffered a dramatic broken ankle during the 2013 BOP, Georges was a core part of the squad that helped elevate SIC to the top-tier after the company was purchased by Flow Sports and transformed from a Maui-based downwind specialist into a global brand.
But things have certainly changed since those glory days.
Georges’ exit from Team SIC follows that of Kenny Kaneko (now with JP Australia) and Sonni Honscheid (who announced her move to Starboard earlier this week), in what appears to be an ominous sign for the brand. After finishing 2014 and 2015 as the clear #2 on the teams leaderboard (and ending 2016 within shouting distance of the top two), SIC has experienced a very sudden and dramatic fall from grace³.
However the focus right now is on Georges’ fresh start with the 425 Pro Team, so congratulations to the big guy from the little village of Mataiea on signing a new deal. We look forward to seeing where both Georges and the ‘Addicted 2 SUP’ team can go from here.
Tahitian powerhouse Georges Cronsteadt is now paddling for the 425 Pro Team (aka “Addicted 2 SUP”) as the mass exodus from Team SIC continues.
² Va’a (rudderless outrigger canoe) is the national sport of French Polynesia, which explains why the Tahitians are virtually unbeatable in the major outrigger races. The champions of the “Super Aito” race become instant national heroes, and Georges won it three times which explains why he’s considered paddling royalty at home.
³ When we update our Battle of the Brands leaderboard next week with all these latest athlete team changes, SIC won’t even be in the top 10 anymore…