London SUP Open Showcases Race Elite in Fierce Competition

Yuka Sato leading the way on the Thames. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour Yuka Sato leading the way on the Thames. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour

LONDON, England - The first stop on the 2018 APP World Tour exploded out of the gates in the iconic city of London on July 7-8, 2018. This multi-tiered event, featuring Pro, Pro AM and Amateur racing for all levels of paddlers was showcased in two iconic locations around the city, including a 4km course on the historic Thames River, 200 meter sprint races and an 11km distance course held on the Royal Victoria Docks in East London.

Thames 4km Race

The first competition in London, a 4km distance race along the historic Thames River ending at the Houses of Parliament and Eye of London on Saturday, July 7th set the stage for an incredible event. SUP athletes have never before tested these waters on their crafts or experienced the challenge of riding on the Thames.

City officials expressed enthusiasm for the APP event, saying:

"This historic race on the city's Thames is incredibly well run and organized. We welcome the APP World Tour to London and look forward to working together to build on the course in next year's competition. Really a well showcased event."

It was an extraordinary sight to see the two Quiksilver buoys bobbing in the water outside of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. A finish line that marked the history of the British people and celebrated the birth of the sport of professional stand up paddling. At the start gun, the men leapt to their feet and took off. Connor Baxter (Starboard) took an early lead as his quicker cadence launched him out in front with Michael Booth (Starboard), Travis Grant (NSP), Kai Lenny and Mo Freitas (Boardworks) right behind.

The 21-man field quickly split off into two draft trains with Booth overtaking Baxter and driving himself to the front. That is where Booth remained for the duration of the race as the men navigated the river turns and maximized glides from the inevitable boat wake to jostle for position on the Thames. Approximately 1km into the race, at the Battersea Power Station, Booth extended his lead, head down, paddle moving at a solid speed and the rest of the pack dropped off. Travis Grant and Connor Baxter powered forward together as Casper Steinfath dragged the larger pack behind him.

london sup open 2018 men london sup open 2018 michael booth

Men's 4km race on the Thames. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour

For the women, it was a dynamic battle between Manca Notar’s (Naish) fast cadence, Shae Foudy's (Infinity) tactical awareness and Yuka Sato’s (Starboard) formidable strength. Yuka, from Japan, has been on fire this season on the Euro Tour, taking multiple wins and a name for herself at every stop.

Manca's power challenged Yuka for a kilometer or more along the Thames with young Shae Foudy holding on a board length back. At the Battersea Power Station, Manca's rhythm began to slow and Yuka managed to pull out in front. Shae, waiting for her chance to pounce, took the opportunity to cross paths with Manca and came bearing down on the back of Yuka Sato. Yuka and Shae, paddled stroke for stroke to the finish line outside of the city's great Houses of Parliament. Yuka crossed the finish ahead of Shae and Manca finished in 3rd to round out the Top 3.

Winners on the Thames


Men's Top 10: 4KM Thames Race

  1. Michael Booth (Australia)
  2. Travis Grant (Australia)
  3. Connor Baxter (Hawaii)
  4. Bruno Hasulyo (Hungary)
  5. Daniel Hasulyo (Hungary)
  6. Kai Lenny (Hawaii)
  7. Leonard Nika (Italy)
  8. Tom Auber (France)
  9. Mo Freitas (Hawaii)
  10. Martino Rogai (Italy)

Women's Top 5: 4KM Thames Race

  1. Yuka Sato (Japan)
  2. Shae Foudy (USA)
  3. Manca Notar (Slovenia)
  4. Annie Reickert (Hawaii)
  5. Candice Appleby (USA)

Royal Docks 200m Sprint Race

london sup open 2018 men buoySprint races were intense. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour

Following the Race on the Thames, Saturday afternoon the competition continued with 200 meter sprint races back at the Royal Docks in East London. The Royal Victoria Docks proved to be a fantastic venue for the remainder of the London SUP Open's showcase events. With plenty of viewing room and alternative locations to watch the action, racers put on a show that repeatedly brought the crowds in East London to their feet.

This dynamic location is a part of London't great history. The Royal Docks were designed to accommodate large steam ships in the 1800's and featured the first hydraulic power to operate its machinery. The Docks also operated commercially as they were connected to the London railway systems.

Today, this aquatic arena offers a wonderful venue for housing watersports events like the London SUP Open. Flanked on one side by multiple hotels, including The Good Hotel home base of the APP World Tour for the week, and elegant walkways, eateries and a footbridge, the Royal Docks made for a spectacular event for the remainder of the weekend.

Men’s Sprints

The afternoon SUP Sprints featured several rounds of competition for World Tour athletes. Each heat held six racers on the Royal Docks waters and featured a 3-buoy turn (200 meter) course in front of the crowds. The Top 3 racers from each heat advanced to the next round and a repecharge heat was held for “Last Chance” opportunities to make it to the next round.

The competition was fast and furious. For the Men's Pro Tour, the first heat set the tone for the day as Kai Lenny blasted off the start in a fantastic fury to hit the first buoy out in front. Throughout the comps, Kai asserted his skill and dominance to moved quickly through to the finals. Connor [Baxter], Casper [Steinfath], Mo [Freitas] and others all had to charge up their game in order to keep up with the blistering pace.

As the men advanced through the heats, Mo Freitas looked strong and focused, but heartbreakingly went down at the buoy in his semi-final in a battle with Michael Booth and had to fight his way back in the repecharge heat. In that round, the furious powers of Slater Trout and Arthur Arutkin drove the three men to an incredible photo finish where Slater and Arthur were awarded the win and advanced to the finals.

In that final heat, on the line were Kai, Connor, Casper, Arthur and Slater. Again, Kai’s furious speed gave him a nose length in front of Casper as he rounded the first buoy. Casper held on half a board length behind and kept maximum pressure on Kai throughout the course. The crowd all along the Royal Docks could be heard yelling for both Kai and Casper. Connor, in the mix as always stayed focused a board length back.

Around the final turn and in the race to the arch, Casper looked like he was ready to release his full Viking power, but the course just proved too short and Kai’s quick strength brought him home just ahead of the powerful Dane. Connor’s third place win was only a breath behind the two out front.

Men's Top 10: Sprints

  1. Kai Lenny (Hawaii)
  2. Caspter Steinfath (Denmark)
  3. Connor Baxter (Hawaii)
  4. Arthur Aruktin (France)
  5. Daniel Hasulyo (Hungary)
  6. Michael Booth (Australia)
  7. Bruno Hasulyo (Hungary)
  8. Slater Trout (USA)
  9. Mo Freitas (Hawaii)
  10. Tom Auber (France)

Women's Sprints

london sup open 2018 shaeShae Foudy claims the win for the Sprints. | Photo Courtesy: APP World Tour

The Women’s Sprint races were equally exciting to the men's with powerhouses Candice Appleby, Annie Reickert, Manca Notar and Yuka Sato in the mix. Looking fiery off the starts, even with her broken toe, Candice led the charge in her early heats forcing the young guns to fire up and get to speed quickly.

Yuka, Manca, Annie and Marie Buchanan held strong advancing round to round with Infinity’s Shae Foudy tearing through every heat out in front. In the final round, Shae’s explosive energy dominated the course as she powered to the front and held her ground through the finish making it a double win for Team Infinity for both the Men & Women in the Sprints.

Shae’s win was followed up by excellent performances by Manca Notar in second and Annie Reickert in third.

Women's Top 5: Sprints

  1. Shae Foudy (USA)
  2. Manca Notar (Slovenia)
  3. Annie Reickert (Hawaii)
  4. Candice Appleby (USA)
  5. Yuka Sato (Japan)

Royal Victoria Docks 11km Distance Races

Points awarded for the Sprints and Distance races culminated in the overall winners for this dramatic 1st stop on the APP World Tour. In the event of a tie-breaker, which occurred between Arthur Arutkin and Casper Steinfath, placement in the Thames 4km course proved the deciding factor.

The Distance Race showcased an 11km course around the Royal Victoria Docks featuring multiple buoy turns and the option of a “Super Lap” wherein racers could choose which of the 4 lap legs to shorten in an overall run for the win. This different style of course for distance allows room for tactical strategy as racers navigate four buoy turns per lap with the option of that Super Lap to create additional options for advancement within the pack or out in front.

Men's Distance 11KM Race

Off the line in the Men's competition, there was furious motion between two red nosed Starboard All-Stars as Aussie Michael Booth and Maui legend Connor Baxter raced for the front of the pack. Establishing a couple of board length's lead, Booth and Baxter set the pace around the distance course.

The main pack held over 15 racers and was the seat of much action. Moves within the pack held significant impact on overall results. Travis Grant, Mo Freitas, Casper Steinfath, the Hasulyo brothers and the ever present Arthur Arutkin exchanged positions throughout the race, some taking time at the front to pull, other times joining the draft train on the long distance challenge.

But, as the heat of the day wore on and the men counted laps, the dynamic shifted. Kai Lenny, who was such a powerhouse in the Sprints the evening before, could be seen lagging towards the back. Casper made valiant efforts to move forward within the pack throughout only to be blocked by Grant and Hasulyo from gaining too much ground.

On the final lap, Booth pulled away from Connor and established a 3-4 board length lead ahead to power into the finish by himself for the win. Connor’s energy flagged in the heat and the pack caught him in those final furious meters of the race. Hot, tired, driving towards the finish, the crowd rose to its feet to see the finale of these great racers putting in one last herculean effort for the weekend.

Arthur Arutkin, conserving energy until the right moment, charged ahead as his final sprint brought him a 2nd place finish behind Booth. Next came Travis Grant, always a smart tactician in moments like this, as he made his move and pulled out of the pack to finish 3rd. He was followed by Casper Steinfath in 4th, Daniel Hasulyo in 5th followed by his brother Bruno in 6th place.

Men's To 10: Distance Race

  1. Michael Booth (Australia)
  2. Arthur Arutkin (France)
  3. Travis Grant (Australia)
  4. Casper Steinfath (Denmark)
  5. Daniel Hasulyo (Hungary)
  6. Bruno Hasulyo (Hungary
  7. Mo Freitas (Hawaii)
  8. Marcus Hansen (New Zealand)
  9. Claudio Nika (Italy)
  10. Connor Baxter (Hawaii)

Women's Distace Race

In the Women's 11km Distance Course, two front packs determined the line up. From the start, Yuka Sato surged out in front, pulling the lead train and grinding out the 11km in the heat pulling Shae Foudy and Manca Notar. Behind the front threesome, came Australia's Chloe Walkerdene and Annie Reickert with USA's powerhouse Candice Appleby. The two groups worked together around the rectangular shaped course, staying in rhythm until the final sprint.

In those final meters, after having pulled for the entire race, Yuka Sato was overpowered by young gun Shae Foudy who jack-rabbitted past her to claim the win. Yuka took a very solid 2nd place finish and Italy's ever-present Manca Notar completed the Top 3 for Women's Distance.

Candice and Annie came down to those final yards together where Annie drove into the finish just in front of Appleby to take 4th and 5th place respectively. Chloe Walkerdene, who is looking strong and progressing rapidly on these World Tour events finished 6th.

Women's Top 5 Distance

  1. Shae Foudy (USA)
  2. Yuka Sato (Japan)
  3. Manca Notar (Slovenia)
  4. Annie Reickert (Hawaii)
  5. Candice Appleby (USA)

Overall Winners for London SUP Open

london sup open 2018 ladies podium london sup open 2018 men podium

Podiums. | Photos Courtesy: APP World Tour

One of the many attributes of the APP World Tour that makes it a stand out event from other competitions is its commitment to creating a professional multi-stop tour that includes equal prize money for the Top 3 Overall Winners for both Men and Women. The APP World Tour is the only World Tour event that is sanctioned by the ISA (International Surfing Association), the leading governing body for the sport of Stand Up Paddle Surfing. The APP and ISA are in agreement to host high caliber events that are deserving of a world title status and they work together to create professional experiences through global media exposure, structured format and prize money to support the athletes.

“The opportunities I have had to travel the world going to places that are beyond just the surf zone have been amazing. To be here in London racing in the iconic city, thank you APP World Tour for putting us into this arena! Between what the APP is doing and what their partner the ISA have done, it’s really allowed us the opportunity to have a career in a sport we love. Mahalo!” – Kai Lenny

Scores based upon placement in the Sprints + Distance Course determined the Overall Winners for this first stop on the APP World Tour in London. To date, the leaders are Michael Booth & Shae Foudy! Here's the lineup:

Men's Overall Top 3:

  1. Michael Booth (Starboard)
  2. Aruthur Arutkin (Fanatic)
  3. Casper Steinfath (Naish)

Women's Overall Top 3:

  1. Shae Foudy (Infinity)
  2. Yuka Sato (Starboard)
  3. Manca Notar (Naish)

For more news on the APP World Tour, click HERE.
For more SUP race news, click HERE.

Last modified onWednesday, 11 July 2018 08:59

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