At the end of each year, SUP athlete and enthusiast, Anthony Vela, gives us a list of his Top 10 picks for events that occurred in 2014.
When I first started making this list in 2011, there were far fewer events, and paddlers. This is my own personal list of events that I have picked to be my top ten for several reasons. In my opinion, there are many factors that make up a great event. It's not about having the most prize money, but it helps. It's not about having the most competitors, but it helps. It's not about having the most elite paddlers, but it helps. There are small things that count, like, do the competitors get lunch? How are the awards? Is the event inclusive, or exclusive? Is the event fun for spectators, competitors, and fans? Does the event help our sport progress?
Taking these questions into account, and factoring many things together, these are the AV's Top Ten SUP Events in 2014
1. Payette River Games -- Largest $$$ purse in SUP history, many countries represented, 3 organic meals a day, amazing live webcast, fantastic coverage including Sports Illustrated, many of the sports biggest names.
The Payette River Games had a massive gathering of professional and amateur paddlers alike, competing for the biggest purse to date.
The 2014 BOP was full of dramatics with the new venue and solid swell.
The SUP Fiesta Jr. Pro is one of the best events out there to showcase up-and-coming rippers.
The 2014 Sunset Beach Pro showcased to the world how progressive the professional SUP athletes are becoming at surfing.
The Carolina Cup is arguably the biggest event of the year on the East Coast.
2. BOP California -- Salt Creek put on a great show, incredible races in men & women elite, challenging course, many of the sports top athletes there, great lunch provided, awesome goodie bags.
3. Race the Lake of the Sky -- Great location, hula-hoop and freestyle competitions, great food, no prize $$ but lots of the sports top athletes, spectator friendly, the Best Welcome Party of the year!
4. Stand Up World Tour -- Sunset Beach/Turtle Bay -- This event showcased the high level of men's and women's sup surfing. The men at Sunset showcased some of the best sup surfing ever seen! The waves were incredibly challenging and the surfers showed a progressive style of surfing to be appreciated by anyone! The women at Turtle Bay competed in some of the largest surf ever for a women's sup surf event.
5. Gorge Paddle Challenge -- Great location, some of the worlds top paddlers, amazing downwinder, well organized, plenty of races for everyone.
6. Junior Pro & Youth SUP Fiesta -- Assembled over 80 youth sup athletes from 8 states, 4 hawaiian islands, and 3 athletes from Brasil. The Junior Pro surfing portion boasted some of the top pros like Mo Freitas, Izzi Gomez, Fiona Wylde, and Yuri Daberkow. Live HD webcast, great lunch, awesome goodie bags, and excellent exposure from some of the industry's top media
7. Stand Up World Series -- Huntington Beach -- one of the most exciting races of the year, many different countries represented, great location.
8. Carolina Cup -- great location, many top paddlers, many countries represented, different courses for all levels of paddling, Blockade Runner hotel is perfect place for awards, vendors, and cruising.
9. Lost Mills -- Germany -- The biggest race in Europe, great prize $$, many top competitors, different races (200M sprint, & long course), BEER!
10. Santa Cruz Shootout -- amazing location at Steamer Lane, many top sup surfers, beginner location at Cowells, live webcast.
There are many other events that were amazing like Molokai, GoPro Mountain Games, the Paris Crossing, Stand Up World Series -- Turtle Bay, Rincon Beach Boy Race, SUP Showdown, and Stand Up World Tour -- Huntington Beach. This is my honorable mention list. When it comes down to writing only 10 events, and ranking them it is pretty difficult, but that's the fun. Try it for yourself and compare your list to mine. I challenge you to make your own Top Ten SUP Events in 2014 list and share it with us.
How many of these races will you attend in 2015?