OSAKA, Japan - Michael Booth takes victory on the final day of action at the Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan, in a thrilling distance race that thread its way through the beautiful waterways of this bustling city. Always a favorite coming into the distance race, Michael had some ground to make up after a disappointing 9th place (quarterfinal) finish in the sprint racing. As expected, the powerful talent from down under shot to an early lead, breaking away from the pack and holding the lead for the duration of the event, and resisting a heroic comeback from the New Caledonian phenom, Titouan Puyo in the closing stages of the race.
Michael maintained his composure and kept his head down to come out on top, taking the distance win, and in doing so, the overall win for the Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan, with ties being broken in favor of the distance result at Stop #3 of the 2019 APP World Tour.
However, beyond this event victory, Michael has been able to take the lead in the overall rankings after Osaka, getting ahead of the current World Champion Arthur Arutkin by the smallest of margins (just 250 points), meaning that we have an incredibly exciting title race on our hands coming into the backend of the year.
Titouan Puyo puts on a comeback for the ages to take 2nd in the distance race, once again making his presence felt on Tour. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
Titouan Puyo from New Caledonia came out of the gates all guns firing back at stop #1 in London, making a clear statement that he is a real threat on the APP World Tour both in distance (which we have come to expect), but also sprint racing. Using New York as his wildcard, Titouan was clearly back for more here in Osaka. However it did not start well, with a disappointing finish in the sprint racing on day one that saw him exit early, followed by an early mistake in the distance that did not bode well for the New Caledonian talent.
However, Titouan was able to regain his composure and pull back from what seemed to be an impenetrable lead that Michael Booth had built up, to challenge the eventual champion all the way to the finish line.
While his current rankings do not reflect the sheer talent and potential that Titouan has this year (currently sitting in 9th place overall, but with only 2 out of 3 results so far this year), he did secure a 5th place overall for Osaka and posted another strong distance result towards his overall ranking as he will have his eyes on Red Bull Heavy Water and Paris, still to come in 2019.
Arthur Arutkin continues his impressive form to finish 3rd in the distance, 3rd in Osaka, but slipping to 2nd in the overall ranking. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
Arthur Arutkin, the current World Champion, continues to impress on the APP World Tour, posting another strong result for the 2019 season, keeping his hopes of retaining his hard earned and well deserved World Title alive after stop #3 in Osaka.
Despite slipping to #2 in the world after the Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan, he is only trailing by 250 points, making it one of the most exciting title races yet starting to develop in the men's fleet: with Michael in the lead, Arthur is followed by Casper Steinfath in 3rd, who while he is over 6000 points behind, is currently only counting two distance races towards his overall World Ranking.
Arthur continues to look confidant and is one of the most consistent and well rounded athletes on tour, with one event win so far this season, and another podium finish in Japan.
Casper Steinfath takes victory in the Sprint Racing & does enough in the distance to take 2nd overall in Japan after a tiebreaker. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
Casper Steinfath from Denmark once again proved that he is one of the World's very best sprinters, if not the best, with another dominant performance at Stop #3 of the 2019 APP World Tour in Osaka. Coming off a win in the New York SUP Open sprints, Casper transitioned to the flat water arena with ease to take the well deserved win amidst a stacked final featuring some of the sport's greatest legends.
In the distance, Casper was able to do enough to take 9th place, tying with the eventual winner Michael Booth from Australia for points, with the tie being broken in favor of the distance race in Osaka (it was sprints in New York).
Despite not taking the event win, Casper has climbed further up the leaderboard after his performance in Osaka this weekend, currently sitting in 3rd place overall behind Arthur and Michael and putting him within striking distance of the top spot. This is particularly the case given that he is missing one distance race in his overall results (he did not take part in the distance race in London due to injury).
Osaka SUP Open sees stand out performances from established legends and new faces, for a weekend of racing to remember. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
There is no doubt that the APP World Tour Sprint Racing arena created at the Rose Garden on Nakanoshima Island not only provided some of the most exciting racing yet this season, but was also a massive hit amongst the local Osaka crowds that came to take in this World Championship Tour Event.
Outside of the top 3 overall athletes featured above, a well established legend of the sport reasserted himself in the mix at Stop #3 of the 2019 APP World Tour in Japan: Danny Ching proved that he is far from a one trick pony, putting on a sprint performance to remember in front of an ecstatic local crowd to finish 2nd in the sprints and 4th overall for the event.
Multiple times World Champion Connor Baxter from Hawaii also put on a show worthy of note, coming out of the gates strong in the sprint racing and eventually finishing in 3rd behind Danny Ching and Casper Steinfath.
Finally, Rai Taguchi, a young local talent proving himself truly worthy of his Wildcard, fed off the crowd's excitement and fervor, putting on an incredibly impressive performance, almost making it all the way to the finals. Rai is certainly a face to look out for on the APP World Tour moving forward and we are excited to see how he performs away from the comfort of his home crowd later in the year.
L-R: April Zilg, Seychelle Webster, Annie Reickert. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
Seychelle Webster has won both the distance race and also the overall event title after a hard fought weekend of intense competition at the Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan. It was not an easy road, and while Seychelle has exhibited formidable form throughout the season so far, the line up in the sprints was as tough as ever and Seychelle fell short of a finals berth, putting her in a precarious position for the overall event title, especially given the competition.
However, grit determination and a patience game played off for Seychelle as she bode her time through the race and made her move at the right time, allowing her to take the lead in the final stages of the race, and keep it through to the finish line to take victory in the distance race. Despite a tie with fellow American and friend, April Zilg, Seychelle came out on top, as did Michael Booth, thanks to the weighting towards the distance over the sprints in Osaka.
Another strong finish for Seychelle in Osaka further solidifies her lead in the overall World Rankings after stop #3, as she continues to set her sight firmly on a maiden World Title in 2019. However, the year is far from over yet, with Red Bull Heavy Water still to come, and of course the final race of the year in Paris, where April in particular could be extremely dangerous to Seychelle's quest for the Title, and she is now well within reach.
Fiona Wylde takes an impressive 2nd place finish in the distance, 4th overall for the event and now 3rd overall after stop #3 in Japan. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
2016 World Champion Fiona Wylde from Oregon has still got it: despite missing out on the finals in the sprint racing spectacle on Saturday, Fiona came out of the gates all guns blazing, keeping pace with the very fastest women in the sport and like Seychelle, biding her time before making a move in the distance race.
The moment came as Seychelle made her break, Fiona chased Seychelle all the way to the finish line, unable to overcome the formidable world #1 in this race, but pushing her to her very limits to take a very worthy second place finish. Fiona ends up in 4th overall for the event in Japan, but moves up to 3rd overall on the APP World Tour following this all important stop #3 of the season.
Fiona's renowned comfort in bigger surf, and her very complete skill set in all forms of water conditions make her a real favorite for Red Bull Heavy Water coming up next month, as she will be looking to use this wildcard event as a replacement for worse results earlier in the year in what could be Fiona's moment to really capitalize on solid form and momentum coming into the backend of the year.
Yuka Sato puts on a solid performance in front of her home crowd to get a podium finish in the distance race amid an intense field. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
Yuka Sato is always smiling, but on the water, she is a fierce competitor, and driven to strive for the top with every event, day and stroke. With an impressive track record of distance results over the past few years on the APP World Tour, it was no surprise to see Yuka right up there in the mix in the lead pack coming into the final stages of the distance race. Making a break with Fiona and Seychelle, she was able to follow on from the two leaders to secure 3rd position in the distance race, a well deserved result for this phenomenal ambassador for Japanese stand up paddling, and in front of her home crowd.
While for Yuka, it was a disappointing sprint racing performance at this year's Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan, it was enough to secure 5th place for her overall in the event, and establishing her as 5th overall on the APP World Tour after Stop #3.
With Paris ahead of us, an event where we saw a breakout performance from Yuka last year, there is every chance that Yuka will take advantage of momentum coming into the final event of the year. Meanwhile, she is readying herself to take on the dramatic Red Bull Heavy Water, coming up next month in San Francisco, an event that can provide a very unique launch pad into the final event of the year in Paris from a ratings perspective.
April Zilg continues to put the World's best through their paces and post World Title performances in 2019, as she sets her sights on the prize. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
April Zilg is fast becoming one of the most dominant performers on the 2019 APP World Tour, after her distance and overall win in New York, followed by an impressive performance in some of the most competitive sprint racing yet on the APP World Tour yesterday in Osaka. While she looked as though she might have been a little depleted after the sprint races, April still did enough to take 5th in the distance, tying for points with the eventual event winner and World #1, Seychelle Webster.
However, with the weighting in favor of the distance racing in Osaka, the result went in Seychelle's favor, making it 2:1 for Seychelle out of the 3 events so far this year and establishing April as a real title contender, now sitting within striking distance of Seychelle in 2nd place overall after Osaka.
Annie Reickert has a breakout performance in Osaka, finishing 3rd in the distance and overall and jumping up to 4th in the world. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
It seems as though Annie Reickert from Maui has been on the scene for quite some time, and so it is hard to believe that she is still only just 18 years old. Indeed her performance over the weekend demonstrated anything but immaturity, as she held her cool and put together an impressive performance at the Osaka SUP Open, with a 2nd place in the sprint racing and 4th place in the distance, putting her in 3rd place overall for the event.
This is quite an achievement for the young talent from Maui and is certainly a sign of things to come as we expect great things from Annie over the coming years on the APP World Tour. Now sitting in 4th overall in the rankings after Stop #3 in Osaka, it is all to play for Annie, and, like Fiona, she is perhaps one of the real favorites for the upcoming Red Bull Heavy Water event, being that she is no stranger to big surf and has the talent and physical conditioning to match.
The Osaka SUP Open creates an unmatched arena' for the World's best to deliver a dynamic and exciting sprint elimination. | Photo courtesy: APP World Tour
The Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan saw some formidable competition this past weekend, with the World's best on the APP World Tour stepping up to do battle like never before. Outside of the above contenders, Lina Augaitis from Canada put on a great performance all the way through the sprint elimination. She also led the entire course in the distance, setting the standard for the pack for the women's division for the entirety of the race, that is until Seychelle Webster, Annie Reickert and Yuka Sato were able to take advantage and make a break for it in the last 1km of the race.
Also making her presence felt in the sprint racing was Jade Howson from California - still at school, Jade is already a major threat on Tour, posting solid performances, particularly in the sprint racing division as we are excited to see how she evolves as a competitor on the APP World Championship Tour. While her distance race was to let her down comparatively, the shot across the bows has been sent as we anticipate a great future for this young talent from California over the years to come.
Check out the full recap and highlights from Osaka SUP Open presented by Remax Japan by going to appworldtour.com and @appworldtour.
About the APP World Tour & Waterman League International
The APP World Tour is the Professional World Championship Tour for the Sport of Paddlesurfing (also known as SUP / Stand Up Paddling / Paddleboarding), officially sanctioned by the IOC recognized Federation for Surfing Sports, the ISA (International Surfing Association). Re-branded in 2017 as the APP World Tour (previously known as the Stand Up World Tour and Series) the APP has been crowning the sport’s World Champions for both Men & Women across Racing and Surfing since 2010.