The Battle of the Brands. The BOB. It’s the one race a year where virtually all the major brands come together to duke it out for glory, bragging rights and market share.
Our sport (and our industry) is a bit like the Wild West right now: We’re growing so fast that new board and paddle manufacturers are popping up every week. But who’s staking the strongest claim?
I decided to run the numbers and see which boards and paddles the elite guys and girls are choosing today. While throwing a bunch of adrenaline-fueled paddlers into macking surf at Salt Creek isn’t exactly a scientific study of what brand makes the best gear, it does give us an indication of the current landscape. And either way, it’s kinda fun to dig into the stats… → READ MORE
The final event of the 2014 Stand Up World Series
is happening this weekend has just wrapped up on the North Shore of Oahu. Based out of Turtle Bay, which sits just down the road from famed breaks such as Waimea, Sunset and Pipeline, the World Series Finals will see a very small but hyper-elite band of young guns battle it out in what could be some very interesting conditions.
One week after the all-time, wave-fueled carnage at Salt Creek, the surf at Turtle Bay looks set to throw up another chaotic weekend of racing. Yesterday the North Shore was tipping a solid 10-12 ft plus (20 ft faces) and while the swell is expected to slightly dip today and tomorrow, I’m confident there will be some entertaining chaos to enjoy. → READ MORE
Here’s a very interesting post-Battle interview with Connor Baxter, which includes a lengthy discussion about *that* incident with his arch-rival Kai Lenny. The young Maui superstar lays it out very open and honest, taking us through exactly what happened and giving us his blunt assessment.
You should watch the whole clip but basically: Connor admits he was wrong, accepts responsibility for his actions, even apologises for setting a bad standard for the young spectators on the beach. However Connor also doesn’t hold back in accusing Kai of being a dirty racer, even using the word cheating to describe what happened. → READ MORE
We’ve just wrapped up the 2014 Battle of the Paddle here at Salt Creek, California. What a weekend… Action. Drama. Heroics. But most all: Carnage.
Yesterday’s Elite Race saw some of the most exciting stand up paddle racing ever, with a solid south swell rolling into the BOP’s new home of Salt Creek and creating some very memorable moments. Today’s Distance Race was a little mellower, however the performances were just as strong.
Click through for the full results plus the archive of our LIVE BLOG, which includes play-by-play from the racing and plenty of shots of the carnage… → READ MORE
Hands up if you wanna see the best young paddlers surfing and racing around the world in a non-stop, action-filled stand up paddle movie?
There have been some great SUP movies before now, but most of them focus on the “history” of SUP and its origins. Apart from slices of the H2O movies and some cool shorts from guys like Dave Boehne and Kai Lenny, there hasn’t really been a stand up paddle movie that focuses entirely on action. Until now.
In a generation of Red Bulls and GoPros, this movie was crying out to be made… → READ MORE
Euro Tour. Week 10. Germany. This weekend it was off to the northern German island of Fehmarn, where the “SUP World Cup” kicked off (see what we did there?) with a small but elite field of talent on display. Saturday saw the sprints while Sunday it was the long distance race, with combined results determining the overall event placings. Despite the small field, there were still a few seriously big names battling it out this weekend.
In Saturday’s sprints the Kai/Connor rivalry clicked into gear straight away, with the two young superstars locked in a duel right to the line. Kai narrowly took the honours on day one, however Connor had other ideas for the distance race on day two. → READ MORE
We’re right smack bang in the middle of the grand spectacular that is SIC’s Downwind Month, when the world descends on the Hawaiian Islands to chase big bumps and endless glides.
Downwind Month is about having fun in the open ocean no matter how fast you go, though it does happen to feature a string of big, elite races as well. In a week and a half it’s the grand daddy: Molokai 2 Oahu, which we’ll be covering LIVE on July 27th. However last weekend saw another big channel crossing: Maui 2 Molokai, where Connor Baxter defeated the likes of Kai Lenny, Dave Kalama and Travis Grant to claim his 6th straight M2M crown.
And thanks to EPIC Aerial Productions, we can now enjoy the race from above… → READ MORE
Downwind Month Glides on… Connor Baxter has just won the Maui 2 Molokai race yet again, beating an all star field and firing a shot across the bow ahead of the big one, Molokai 2 Oahu. This must be about the 6th or 7th time in a row that Connor has claimed the M2M title, however this year the win was more hard fought than ever. Connor edged out fellow Maui young gun Kai Lenny by a couple of minutes, while behind him was a who’s who of the downwinding world including Dave Kalama, Travis Grant and Livio Menelau.
Very interesting to look at today’s result in relation to the Molokai 2 Oahu race coming up in two weeks (and which we’ll have live coverage of). Today’s Maui 2 Molokai could be a bit of a form guide for the big one: All five of the top guys from today will be back in action on the 27th. → READ MORE
Looks like a bunch of all-star paddlers were in Vail, Colorado on the weekend for the GoPro Mountain Games. The event featured a couple of interesting SUP races: the downriver sprint and the SUP cross, both of which gave us a glimpse of what’s in store at the big Payette River Games next week.
Spencer Lacy and Haley Mills took out the destruction derby that was the SUP Cross, while Kai Lenny showed he’s one of those annoyingly “good-at-freakin-everything” kind of athletes, taking out the downriver sprint ahead of Mike Tavares. Over in the women’s sprint, Gillian Gibree was the quickest. → READ MORE
A small but elite field of young talent has launched the 2014 Stand Up World Series in Brazil this weekend, with Connor Baxter drawing first blood by making it a clean sweep of both the Sprint and Long Distance races. Meanwhile on the women’s side it was Angie Jackson all the way, with the reinvigorated Aussie proving too strong for a select group of local and international paddlers.
The Connor/Kai rivalry, the recurring theme of the 2013 Series, returned on Day One of the Alagoas Pro, with the two superstars battling all the way to the finish line in the sprints. Connor got the win by half a second, while one wave behind was Aussie Jake Jensen, a paddler that I (and many others in Australia) have tipped to be one of the World Series title contenders this year. Coming home 4th was Zane Schweitzer, while rounding out the top 5 in the sprints was the Danish Viking, Casper Steinfath. → READ MORE
In an extraordinary development that will no doubt go down as one of the biggest marketing coups in SUP history, Kai Lenny, the reigning Battle of the Paddle champion and poster boy for a new generation of paddlers, has left his lifelong sponsor Naish to sign a multi-year deal with Team Starboard.
A full announcement is expected before lunchtime today, however we managed to catch Kai on the phone a few moments ago – while he was in between a Red Bull photoshoot and GQ suit-fitting appointment – to get the full story:
“Firstly I just want to thank Naish from the bottom of my heart for all they have done for me. Since I was a little grom, the Naish ohana has felt like my own family and I’ve been so fortunate to experience everything that the company has done for me over the years. Quite simply, I wouldn’t be the superstar I am today if it wasn’t for their continued support.
It will be particularly hard to part ways with my long time hero and mentor, Robby Naish, who has taught me so much about honour, respect and throwing the perfect shaka. However I hear that (Starboard founder) Svein Rasmussen has some really cool toys in Thailand that I’ll get to play around with, so I’m definitely looking forward to this new direction in my career. Plus (Naish team manager) Chuck (Patterson) kept wanting to take selfies with me ALL the time, so that definitely made the decision easier.” → READ MORE
There’s been a lot of serious news in the SUP racing world this week. Too much. We definitely need healthy (and occasionally heated) debates to ensure this sport stays on track, but we also need to remind ourselves why we love paddling in the ocean. Because it’s fun. And because it makes us smile.
Thank you Ashley Baxter, Connor Baxter, Kody Kerbox, Kai Lenny and Chuck Patterson for the reminder. → READ MORE
Kai Lenny has just signed with surf brand Hurley (and, by extension, its parent company Nike) to continue his rise up the ranks of ocean stardom and solidify himself as one of the highest profile paddlers on the planet.
The Maui superstar, known for mastering at least half a dozen ocean pursuits (seriously, is there anything this kid *can’t* do?), announced the deal on his Facebook page on the weekend, in between catching ridiculously oversized waves out at Mavericks. → READ MORE
So what do the world’s best SUP racers get up to in the off season? Train on their new 12’6″ prototypes? Practice their buoy turns? Do lots of dips & lunges? Well if your name is Jamie Mitchell, Matt Becker, Kai Lenny, Connor Baxter, Chuck Patterson, Dave Kalama or any of the other SUP racers who clearly have a screw loose, the answer is: Hell no, let’s go surf stupidly large waves instead.
I guess after six months spent grinding across flat lakes, surfing 12’6 race boards on 2 foot waves and riding bumps in the ocean that don’t even break, you might as well take it to the extreme opposite end of the scale, right? → 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
Kai Lenny, fresh off his big wins at the Battle of the Paddle and Stand Up World Series in the past few weeks, isn’t slowing down. Next week the star is off to France to further solidify his quest for a third SUP surfing crown, while in the meantime he’s been busy polishing off some new SUP race fin for next year.
Working with Pio Marasco from Maui-based MFC (Maui Fin Company), Kai has helped create a weird-looking new SUP race fin called the “Sprint5″. It looks like a regular fin that hit a rock and got snapped in half… but it clearly works. While a fin obviously doesn’t make all the difference, we did see Kai use this when he won the Battle of the Paddle a few weeks ago (before following it up with a victory in the sprints @ the World Series Finals two week later). → READ MORE
Kai Lenny: That event. That race. “That” wave…
As he rounded the final buoy and looked set to clinch the season-deciding race by a clean margin, the wave gods decided to throw one more obstacle at Kai Lenny.
A bomb set. The wave of the day.
A wave designed for boards much shorter than 12 foot six inches. A wave that even the two-time SUP surfing World Champ couldn’t negotiate on his yellow, carbon-wrapped, Naish race board.
Kai went down, hard, and suddenly his race (and season) were in jeopardy. Which made it that much better for those of us watching… → READ MORE
Well that was fun to watch…
Kai Lenny has just taken out the sprints in absolutely macking surf on the North Shore, somehow stealing the overall 2013 Stand Up World Series from Connor Baxter in the process. Australia’s young gun Jake Jensen was the overall winner this weekend though, with a third in the sprints plus his victory in yesterday’s distance race enough to give him both the “World Series Finals” event title and leapfrog him into third place overall for the 2013 season… → READ MORE
We’ve just finished two amazing days of SUP racing here at the Battle of the Paddle, with epic performances across both the Elite Races and Elite Distance Races producing perhaps the most memorable weekend in SUP racing history. Click through for full results and recap… → READ MORE
Watch highlights from Day 2 of racing action at the Huntington Beach Pro, the penultimate stop of the 2013 Stand Up World Series. After Kai Lenny took out the sprints in the waves on Saturday, Sunday saw the Distance Race. But unlike traditional distance events, this one utilised the surf as paddlers completed several 1-1.5 mile laps, going in and out of the waves at the end of each one.
This definitely made it more exciting to watch and also really mixed up the order of the race. A few paddlers got lucky, a few got unlucky but in the end it was the young Aussie Jake Jensen taking out the win. → READ MORE