OAHU, Hawaii - The trajectory of Mo Freitas towards becoming one of the most well rounded athletes in the sport has been astonishing. it all started with his breakthrough win back in 2012 at the Ubatuba Pro where he took the world by storm with the most progressive SUP Surfing to date, to take down the soon to be crowned, and first ever Brazilian World Champion, Leco Salazar.
He has continued to be at the cutting edge of SUP Surfing, continually redefining the sport's high performance parameters through board design, time on the water and sheer talent. It is therefore of no surprise to find Mo sitting in #4 in the World SUP Surfing rankings at the close of the 2017 season and you can't help but have the feeling that there is a great deal more in the tank here.
However, perhaps more surprising over the last few years has been his surge into the SUP Racing domain, as he has well and truly established himself as one of the World's most competitive racers. During the 2017 season he has come into his own, battling 2016 World Champion Connor Baxter (Starboard) every step of the way. Coming out of Maui, as a result of his sprint racing performance at Ho'okipa, he was able to take the overall ratings lead and adopt the yellow jersey coming into Japan. Connor was able to match this with his performance in Japan, meaning that they were both yellow jersey holders coming out of this.
Fast forward to Red Bull Heavy Water in San Francisco, and still a tie, it came down to who would finish ahead of the other in this dramatic race that would decide the 2017 APP World Racing Title. In one of the most spectacular races in the sport's history, Connor was just able to get the edge over Mo finishing one place ahead, thereby securing him the 2017 World Racing Title.
However, with a 4th in Surfing and a 2nd in Racing, Mo's ownership of the Overall World Title across both disciplines was self evident and well-earned as he is officially recognized as one of the sport's leading all-rounders and the 2017 Overall APP World Champion.
Fiona Wylde has long been celebrated as one of the most well rounded women in the sport and claims the Overall Title in 2017. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour
Fiona Wylde (Starboard) has fast become somewhat of a female 'Kai Lenny': phenomenally talented across multiple sports, Fiona never ceases to impress, from her competitive pursuits in windsurfing that see her in the upper echelon of the sport, to her performance level in all forms of surf, particularly in waves of consequence (see the photo above at Sunset this year for a glimpse of Fiona catching one of the waves of the event).
Like Mo Freitas, while her background was more in the surfing aspects of the various sports, she has been able to prove herself as one of the World's very best racers too, securing her first Racing World Title in 2016 and then finishing in a very credible 3rd place for 2017 and well within reach of another World Title.
Meanwhile, in SUP surfing, she was once again able to back up her strong racing finish with 2nd place in 2017 (a repeat performance of 2016 where she finished runner up), behind the now 4x World Champion and Starboard teammate Izzi Gomez. There is no doubt that Fiona is more than capable of World Title in SUP Surfing, and will certainly continue to be a force to be reckoned with on the APP World Tour.
Given her dominant performances across both disciplines, like Mo Freitas, there is no surprise that Fiona has secured the Overall World Title in 2017, with a 2nd and a 3rd place establishing her as the clear all-rounder in the sport and well-deserved Overall World Champion.
James Casey demonstrates his well rounded abilities with a strong finish in both Surfing and Racing to take 2nd Overall. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour
James Casey's powerful approach to surfing has earned him notoriety over the past few years as one of the leading power surfers in the World, particularly in waves of consequence. Specifically, his finish in the surfing discipline of the APP World Tour in 2016 was representative of this talented athlete from down under's raw ability.
While 7th place is still extremely credible given the caliber of competition on the APP World Tour, there is no doubt that James was hoping to reach the final 4 once again. However, given that James is so far from one dimensional, his ever impressive approach to SUP Racing has seen him rise steadily up the ranks to be one of Australia's leading lights on the APP World Tour.
A 9th place finish in 2017 combined with his 7th place in Surfing propels him into the number 2 spot for the overall in 2017 - an impressive achievement given the sheer caliber of athletes on the APP World Tour and a clear sign of things to come from this powerhouse from Sydney.
Izzi Gomez steps up her racing prowess with a solid result on Maui to complement her World Title in Surfing to finish 2nd overall. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour
Izzi Gomez (Starboard) needs no introduction. With four SUP Surfing World Titles under her belt, she has clearly established herself as the most dominant figure in Women's SUP Surfing. It is also hard to believe that she has achieved this position in the sport at such a young age, and has been able to continue to grow, evolve and improve amidst an increasingly competitive environment that is the Women's World Tour.
While she has dabbled with SUP Racing over the past few years, she decided to really throw her hat in the ring in 2017, posting a solid result in Maui, with a strong performance as expected in the Surf Sprints, but also an impressive finish in the long distance race.
A solid performance at the start of the year was enough to strengthen her position overall to where, combined with her World Title in SUP Surfing, she now sits in #2 Overall for 2017. Another impressive feat by such a young talent with so much ahead of her. We very much look forward to seeing much more from Izzi Gomez over the coming years on the APP World Tour.
Casper Steinfath completes another stellar year on Tour with a podium finish for the overall Surf and Race Rankings for 2017. | Photo Courtesy: Red Bull
Casper Steinfath (Naish) wrapped his 2017 season on a high with that spectacular performance at Red Bull Heavy Water in San Francisco, an event that demanded not only racing performance, but stamina, surf lecture, guts and grit determination to come out on top - a true test of a well rounded SUP athlete.
However, outside of this specialty race and focused on each of the disciplines independently, Casper is able to hold his own: with another podium finish in the SUP Racing Rankings for 2017 (3rd place) and an impressive performance in SUP Surfing (17th place - a phenomenal achievement for an athlete hailing from the relatively 'lesser known' surfing nation of Denmark, especially given the caliber of competition he faces), Casper finds himself in a great position for the overall APP World Tour Rankings that combines both Surfing and Racing and celebrates the all-rounder.
This strong finish propels the Viking onto another podium for 2017, with him securing 3rd place overall for the year.
Terrene Black adds to her Racing World Title with a podium finish for the Overall Result on the APP World Tour. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour
Terrene Black came onto the SUP Surfing scene with a bang in 2017, with a solid performance in a pulsing Sunset Beach line up that clearly positioned her as a force to be reckoned with on the APP World Tour.
She then opted to stay in Hawaii to log extra surf time and prepare for the racing opener that took place on Maui a few weeks later. Again, she came out of the gates strong and was able to secure a well deserved victory in Maui that sent a shot across the bow of the women's fleet that Terrene was here to do business in 2017.
She continued on in Japan, with another strong performance, clearly illustrating that she is one of the most well rounded racers in the sport, able to consistently perform across long distance (also a previous Molokai to Oahu Champion) and sprint courses, as well as on flat water, in surf and Open Ocean conditions.
With her first World Title secured in Racing combined with an impressive 7th place in surfing, Terrene secures another podium finish for the 2017 season with a 3rd place overall across the 2 disciplines. An incredible performance from this Australian talent and a clear sign of things to come.
Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour
About the APP World Tour and the Waterman League
The Waterman League is an event management and media production company headquartered in Hawaii focused on developing multi-disciplined water sports. The term 'waterman' refers to versatile athletes who can engage in various forms of water sports at the highest level.
As founders of the Professional World Championships for paddlesurfing (also known as stand-up paddling), the Waterman League has been crowning Men's and Women's Professional World Champions for both racing and surfing since 2010, with flagship events across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, now branded as the APP World Tour.
The APP World Tour produces a complete inventory of programming, including live and post produced broadcasts from all its events, with distribution to over 100 countries worldwide via premier global networks such as CBS Sports and Fox Sports Australia, supported by IMG Media.
Information is available at appworldtour.com and fans can follow events @appworldtour on Facebook and Instagram.