We’ve just wrapped up the second and final day of the 2014 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, with Connor Baxter and Annabel Anderson dominating an all-star field in what will surely be remembered as one of 2014′s best events.
After their respective victories in Saturday’s Course Race, the Starboard duo made it a clean sweep by claiming today’s unique “Double Downwind” event. With the winds lighter than usual for the Gorge (but much better than we’d feared last night), the elite field battled their way up the Columbia Gorge in back-to-back downwind runs. The majority of the world’s top athletes were on show today, which gave us some intense racing and a great spectacle (especially from my vantage point out on the media boat). → READ MORE
Woah… What a race. That was 13 miles of pain. I’m hurting.
Congrats to Danny Ching for muscling his way through this one and to Annabel Anderson for coming out on top despite a huge push from Jenny and Lina. Danny has now won this event three years in a row while Annabel has gone back to back in her first two attempts.
Click through for full results from all the races. → READ MORE
Tahiti’s infamous Iron SUP race was held again on the weekend weekend. For those unfamiliar, this is an event that combines swimming, running and Stand Up Paddling (like an Ironman race but with SUP instead of bike) in what must be a fairly brutal experience. This year the triathlon-style race included a 2k swim, 3k run and 4k SUP on Friday, before following up with an 8km course race on Saturday and a 15km Distance event on Sunday.
Unsurprisingly it was Georges Cronsteadt, Tahiti’s most recognisable paddler and a guy I rate as one of the best in the world, who took out the event. Though looking through the results, Georges clearly had plenty of competition. Just check out the times in the distance race: For example Rete Ebb crossed the line only a few seconds after Georges. I’d never heard of Rete either, but turns out he’s actually Georges’ cousin and also happens to be world champion in long distance V1 racing (rudderless outrigger canoeing). Not a bad résumé.
So yeah, there’s some talent in Tahiti that’s for sure. Kinda scary to think what would happen if we all the Aussie/Hawaiian/American/European paddlers went to Tahiti for a big race (hint: most of us would get seriously smoked). It’s probably a good thing that outrigger canoeing is so insanely popular in Tahiti – that’s the only thing keeping all these uber-talented paddlers from crossing over and focusing on stand up. → READ MORE
Fun little clip of the SIC crew’s recent trip to Mexico for the Punta Sayulita Classic, where team riders Georges Cronsteadt and Lina Augaitis dominated the event. The two world beaters each made a clean sweep, taking out their respective Elite and Distance Races.
As always with SIC clips there’s some cool aerial shots and great race footage mixed in with some words from the paddlers themselves, so sit back and enjoy (and check out the carange at the 55 second mark…). → READ MORE
Results are in from the Punta Sayulita Classic in Mexico and it looks like the weekend belonged to Team SIC. Taking out both events (the Surf Race on Saturday and 10k Distance Race on Sunday) was Georges Cronsteadt of Tahiti, while teammate Lina Augaitis from Canada was too strong on the women’s side.
In the Surf Race, Georges was the only paddler to make it clean to the first buoy, as a set swept through the field right after the start. From there, the Tahitian big guy controlled the waves and the race to finish around half a minute clear. Sayulita locals Ryan Helm and Fernando Stalla filled the men’s podium, with Ryan overtaking Fernando on the sprint up the beach to the line. Meanwhile Shelby Dela Rosa Taylor and Kristin Thomas took second and third respectively on the women’s. → READ MORE
So who wants to get on a SUP podium? Now’s probably a good time to have a crack at it, because the five best paddlers in the world are all carrying injuries and are all officially out of action at the moment.
In what is an amazing yet unfortunate coincidence, Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Danny Ching, Kai Lenny and Georges Cronsteadt – aka the top five guys in our Top 13 of 2013 list – have all suffered problems at the same time. Fortunately for these five guys (and unfortunately for everyone else) it’s the off season right now, meaning there aren’t really any big races that you could jump in on and magically gain five positions on the leaderboard.
The SUP racing “season” (if such a thing exists in our sport) roughly runs for seven months between mid-March to mid-October. All these guy got injured in late 2013, giving them a few months to recover and get back in shape before the big races start rolling again.
The injuries for Travis and Georges are the most serious, with up to six months recovery time, while the others should be back within a month or two. Though it’s worth noting that all these injuries were NOT caused by the normal stresses of Stand Up Paddling; they mostly happened while free surfing, except for Georges, who was just plain out of luck during the Battle of the Paddle. So here’s wishing the world’s finest a speedy recovery. But what exactly happened? Here’s a closer look… → READ MORE