New League Aims to Crown ‘True’ World SUP Champions

Fiona Wylde leading the charge at the 2017 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. | Photo: Gorge US Photography Fiona Wylde leading the charge at the 2017 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. | Photo: Gorge US Photography

SAN DIEGO, California - In theory, the athletes who attend and do the best at the biggest events in paddle boarding throughout the year should be crowned world champions. Surprisingly enough, this hasn’t exactly happened quite yet in our sport. New for 2018, an organization dubbed “The Paddle League” has been announced and it will aim to do just that by “crowning a true international champion” all while pushing to elevate and grow the sport.

What is The Paddle League?

The Paddle League will be a unified world tour showcasing both international and regional races that will be ranked by points stemming from SUP Racer’s leaderboard. This tour will be a major collaborative effort between event organizers, brands and athletes. Here’s how it works: 10 international races have been selected for 2018, the majority of which are classified as ‘Major Events.’ These Major Events will each be worth 100 points and the ‘Specialty Events’ will be worth a max of 60 points each. So, the more Major Events attended, the more points athletes have the chance to earn with the goal of rising to the top of the leaderboard by the end of the year.

The Paddle League is co-founded by Supconnect’s 2016 Man of the Year, Kelly Margetts, SUP Racer founder Chris Parker and Brian Meyer of Capital SUP. Margetts has the position of Tour Commissioner, Parker will be the Tour Architect and Meyer will head as CEO.

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The Pacific Paddle Games will be the final and last stop of the 2018 tour. | Photo Courtesy: Pacific Paddle Games

“We're not going to make big promises about this tour, and we're not going to pretend our sport is on the same level as Formula 1,” says Margetts, Parker and Meyer. “We don't believe in empty hype, we simply want to help contribute to the sport in a positive, leading way. Stand up paddling has given us so much and now it's time for us to give back, which is why we've been working day and night on The Paddle League for the past five months.

We're not trying to take over or tell anyone what to do: We're simply coming in underneath and providing a solid platform to help elevate the entire sport for the entire SUP community. We believe there can only ever be one “winner” in this -- the sport itself.”

Regional Leagues

In addition to the 10 major and specialty events on the schedule for the 2018 Paddle League season there will be at minimum two dozen regional Paddle League-affiliated races that span across the mainland United States, Hawaii, Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. These regional races are where the grassroots efforts will come in and will involve and welcome newcomers and support local paddling communities around the globe. The schedule for the Regional Leagues will be announced mid-February.

a1b656136702719c9b771ebb82ba1be9 LFirst stop on the tour will be the Air France Paddle Festival in Tahiti. | Photo: Supconnect

2018 Paddle League Schedule

Event # 1: Air France Paddle Festival

Tahiti, April 7
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 2: Carolina Cup

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, April 18-22
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 3: OluKai Ho’olaule’a

Maui, Hawaii, April 28
(Specialty event: 60 points)

Event # 4: Kerama Blue Cup in Zamami

Japan, May 12
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 5: Bilbao World Paddle Challenge

Spanish Basque Country, June 16
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 6: Hossegor Paddle Games

France, June 23
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 7: Mercedes-Benz SUP World Cup

Scharbeutz, Germany, June 30-July 1
(Major event: 100 points)
Paddle League live webcast

Event # 8: Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

Hood River, Oregon, August 18-19
(Major event: 100 points)
- Paddle League live webcast

Event # 9: SUP 11 City Tour

Netherlands, September 5-9
(Specialty event: 60 points)

Event # 10: The Pacific Paddle Games

Dana Point, California, October 6/7
(Independent Major: 100 points)
The PPGs is an honourary points race delivered live by our friends at SUP the Mag. The race will count for points but it's not part of the core tour and remains fully independent.

olukai connor baxter 2015 pc erik aederThe Olukai Ho'olaule'a will be a specialty event on the 2018 tour. | Photo: Erik Aeder

For more info on The Paddle League, check out their website HERE.

Last modified onMonday, 29 January 2018 17:55

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