So you thought the SUP racing season was over huh? Nope… The SUP racing season is never over.
While the Battle of the Paddle may have come and gone for another year, there are still plenty of big stand up paddle races left to run before New Year’s.
From Perth to Paris, Bora Bora to Brazil, here are four of the biggest…
#1. Battle of the Paddle Brazil
November 19th – 23rd
The most iconic franchise in the sport returns to the golden beaches of Brazil for the second year in a row, with a new location and a bigger prize purse expected to attract a strong field.
After date changes and funding issues caused the 2013 BOP Brazil to be more of a regional event than a full scale international contest, this year’s race is looking far more promising. The location has moved south to the beautiful Florianapolis, while the prize money now matches the California BOP: $25k.
Expect Brazil’s finest to give the internationals a good push in the battle for glory, bragging rights, and a year’s supply of acai smoothies.
If you wanna join in the fun, registration is now open. Though a word of advice to Aussies and Americans: You need a visa to enter Brazil (those smug Europeans have no such restrictions…).
More info on the official site
December 3rd – 7th
Bora Bora, French Polynesia (Tahiti)
Quite possibly the toughest paddling event on the planet, the IRONMANA challenge is a cross between a triathlon and a SUP race. It’s part-stand up paddling, part-swimming, part-prone paddling and all out pain.
Ironically, paddlers will suffer through the experience in one of the most spectacular locations on the planet: Bora Bora. Yes, that Bora Bora.
Better known for hosting wealthy newlyweds, the island will transform itself into an arena of agony for five days in December. Oh and here’s the full-length clip from last year, just in case you were wondering what pain looks like:
#3. Aussie Downwind Month
November 29th: The Doctor
November 30th: Fig 2 Fig
December 6th: King of the Cut
Perth, Western Australia
In five weeks’ time we’re going to see three great downwind races in the space of nine days near Perth, Western Australia: The Doctor, Fig 2 Fig and King of the Cut.
The date with The Doctor – a 28km downwind ocean crossing that is Australia’s answer to Molokai – has traditionally been in January. However after continually disappointing with wind conditions, the dates were brought forward a couple of months in search of bigger bumps.
But ‘The Doctor’ is primarily a surfski race while Fig 2 Fig is more of a local affair, so it’s actually the last race on the list, the King of the Cut, that could soon become Australia’s premiere event.
Australia has always been a bit of an anomaly in the paddling world: The nation has always been home to a disproportionately large number of elite paddlers, however those top guys and girls have never had big local events to show their stuff. Apart from a few good races such as the 12 Towers, the best of Australia have always had to travel overseas for a decent hit out.
But now with three great downwinders lining up, expect to see Australia’s finest plus a few internationals battle it out in what may well become West Oz’s answer to Hawaii’s Downwind Month. Sure, it’s more of Aussie Downwind Week right now, but this could be the start of something big.
#4. The Paris Crossing
The Nautic SUP Paris Crossing is the biggest race you’ve never heard of.
The Paris Crossing doesn’t have a huge reputation outside of Europe but that surely can’t last much longer. After a record-setting event twelve months ago, in which 300 paddlers hit the River Seine for Europe’s biggest ever stand up paddle race, the Paris Crossing has gone next level in 2014.
The event sold out all FOUR HUNDRED registration spots within 10 hours last month. After 48 hours even the waiting list had 200+ names on it.
With the waves at Salt Creek halving the size of this year’s BOP Elite Race and the 600 odd paddlers at Carolina being split between three separate races, I’m pretty sure the Paris Crossing will be the single largest stand up paddle race on the planet this year.
The appeal of this race is obvious: You can paddle through the heart of the Most Romantic City In The World, something that’s flat out illegal on the other 364 1/2 days of the year.
Though it’s not all roses & chocolate: The Paris SUP Crossing is held in the early parts of Europe’s freezing winter. Plus to avoid boat traffic the race starts in the early morning darkness. It’s not exactly Hawaii.
So even with the attraction of paddling passed the world’s most iconic landmark (paddlers race straight by the Eiffel Tower), organisers have done an amazing job in attracting so many competitors.
The Paris SUP Crossing is as much of a leisurely tour as a full on race, however this year we should see the most elite lineup yet: Connor Baxter and Zane Schweitzer are likely to compete for the first time, while I’d expect 2x champ Eric Terrien and the Danish Viking Casper Steinfath to return.
Either way, with 400 paddlers lining up at dawn in Paris, it’s going to be one hell of a spectacle.