In a major move that’s sure to create waves, world number three and ‘Queen of Molokai’ Sonni Hönscheid announced today that she’s departing SIC to join Team Starboard for season 2017.
In what is an massive pickup for the Tiki team, the current world number three will join the likes of Connor Baxter, Michael Booth, Fiona Wylde and a dozen more of the world’s best paddlers on the famous blue boards to create an absolutely formidable lineup.
Sonni has long been one of the world’s top female paddle athletes, consistently overpowering rivals to claim a near endless string of victories at home in Europe and in Hawaii. The most famous trophies in her ever-growing collection are the three straight Molokai-2-Oahu crowns from 2014-2016, while the powerful German also won the EuroTour title in both 2015 and 2016.
Though today’s move was not just about Starboard securing one of the world’s top athletes and Sonni getting her hands on some of the fastest race boards available, the deal also extends to art.
Sonni is a talented artist, and part of this new collaboration with Starboard will see her artistic creations on select Starboard equipment. This extends on the partnership Sonni already has with motoring giant Mercedes-Benz back home in Germany, where the name Hönscheid has been well-known for years thanks to the exploits of her famous windsurfing father Jurgen.
Although she flies the flag for Germany, Sonni spends most of her year in the warmer waters of the Canary Islands and Maui, which helps explain why she’s been the most dominant ocean paddler in the world over the past few seasons (in addition to Molokai, Sonni also currently holds the OluKai crown).
The addition of Sonni to the Starboard Dream Team gives the world’s winningest race team an even bigger advantage over its rivals. No other brand comes close to the blue boards on our Battle of the Brands leaderboard, and this signing will only increase the advantage. Starboard now has two of the world’s top four ranked women – Sonni and Fiona – and the world’s top two ranked men in Connor and Boothy.
Battle of the Brands will be updated next week to reflect the dozen or so high profile athlete team changes from the past couple of weeks — we’re just waiting on a couple more big names to officially announce their new stripes in the coming days. Needless to say Starboard will still be on top, though get ready for some big changes further down the leaderboard.
Those changes include Team SIC taking a steep hit and most likely dropping outside the top 10 completely, which would be a big fall for a brand who finished season 2016 just a few points shy of the #2 spot (a position they firmly held in recent seasons). Not only have they lost their top ranked athlete, high profile SIC athletes Kenny Kaneko (now with JP Australia) and Georges Cronsteadt (who joins the ‘Addicted 2 SUP’ pro team) have also switched camps in recent weeks in what must be a worrying sign for the brand.
But today’s focus is on the future, so congratulations to Sonni and Team Starboard on the new collaboration. It’s definitely an exciting season ahead for one of the sport’s biggest champions, while it’ll no doubt be another big year for the Tiki Team in general.
I just chatted with Sonni and here’s what she had to say about the move:
“After some amazing years with SIC full of unforgettable victories, good times and great experiences (for which I’m very thankful!), today I’m really happy to be part of the “Tiki Team” with Starboard. This new start is not only about racing on the fastest boards, but we also have some really exciting art projects coming along that will make the sport of SUP even more colorful. I’m looking forward to a great season on the blue arrows!”