UPDATE: Check out the RESULTS from Oleorn 2013 (including the live webcast).
The Stand Up World Series hits Europe this weekend, with the big Oleron Island SUP Challenge happening on the West coast of France over the next few days.
Several of the world’s best men and women are in town, including Connor Baxter, Chase Kosterlitz, Annabel Anderson, Kai Lenny, Zane Schweitzer plus the Aussie contingent of Paul & Angie Jackson, Jake Jensen and Beau O’Brian. They’ll be up against Europe’s finest (including world beater Eric Terrien and the Danish Viking Casper Steinfath) and battling it out in the knockout beach sprints as well as the big 30km distance race.
This is the event that Annabel Anderson famously beat all the guys in last year, taking out overall line honours in the distance event. The New Zealander will be back again this year and will no doubt start as hot favourite in the women’s event, though she’ll have her work cut out to take the overall win two years in a row, as the field is going to run very deep in the men’s race.
It’ll be interesting to see if Kai Lenny can get one back on his rival Connor Baxter, who’s dominated the World Series so far this year (winning each of the first two stops in Chile and Brazil). Though just to mix things up at the top of the order, Eric Terrien put in the performance of his life last week in Germany (beating Connor and co) and has to start a genuine favourite in Sunday’s distance event.
Throw in some other big guns from Europe (including some young, local dark horses that I guarantee will take a few scalps) plus the Aussie all-stars and we should have a cracker of a race.
I asked the race organiser, Oleron local Didier Lafitte, what makes this event special, apart from the big names:
“I live on Oléron and I always knew that we had the potential to do something great. The venue is lovely; it’s an island with old sea fortresses right in the middle of the ocean that are just amazing. The scenery is very attractive. And this contest has an incredible story since last year with the unbelievable race and performance of Annabel Anderson.
We have waves here as well when the swell kicks in and we have the opportunity to do so many courses all around the island. So the wind direction is never a problem. During the contest we are going to organize a surf SUP event and fun races as well.”
Oleron is the first of three Stand Up World Series races that’ll be taking over Euroland this Summer, the others being Bilbao in a couple of weeks and Hamburg in mid-August.
The event also marks Week #3 of what we’ve nicknamed the “European SUP Racing Tour” presented by NSP, where many of the world’s best paddlers have descended on Europe for six weeks of big SUP races. We had Week #1 at the SUP Race Cup and Week #2 at the Lost Mills in Germany.
But if you can’t make it to Europe don’t worry; the Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge will be webcast live and you can watch it right here on SUPracer.com. The massive 30km main event is set to get started at 13:00 French time on Saturday (7am Florida, 4am California, 9pm Australia), while the Beach Race should get underway at 11:00 on Sunday.
So check back on the weekend to see who takes the crown, and in the meantime here’s the promo vid to get you excited…