WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC - The Alderman family is back. For the fifth consecutive year, family members will load up the SUV and make the four-hour trek from Johns Island, South Carolina to The Carolina Cup in Wrightsville Beach, April 22-26.
Why the excitement? Joining parents Don and Jenny Alderman in the grueling Graveyard Race will be 13-year-old Dylan, alongside the world's best stand up paddle boarders, navigating the 13.2-mile ocean, inlet, and waterway course encircling Wrightsville Beach.
The Carolina Cup, one of the world's largest and most respected stand up paddle board races, is expected to grow to well over 1,000 participants in 2015. Last year's race attracted athletes from 31 states and 11 countries, according to John Beausang, one of the founders and race directors of the Carolina Cup.
"This year it's even bigger. It's possible that we will be the largest race in the world this year, or at least, in the top three," said Beausang.
"The Carolina Cup is really the only race we travel to besides Hawaii," said Jenny Alderman. "The reason we travel to Wrightsville is because the whole family has fun. Simple as that. Even though it is a large event with top athletes from around the world it really does have something for everyone."
Weeklong family-friendly activities include clinics, exhibits, demonstrations, and special events all culminating in four stand up paddle board races that meet the spectrum of skills from beginner to world-class Olympians and professionals. All races and activities are based at Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Aerial view of the 13.2-mile Graveyard Course. | Photo courtesy: NC Press Release
The signature event at the Carolina Cup is the elite Graveyard Race. Reigning three-time male champion Danny Ching (FCS SUP) of California, a multiple Battle of the Paddle winner and world champion OC1 paddler, will defend his title. On the women's side of the Graveyard, the top-ranked paddler in the world, Annabel Anderson of New Zealand, will return to defend her two consecutive titles.
Danny Ching will be looking to defend his title once again at the Carolina Cup. | Photo courtesy: Chris Mcquiston
Ching's challengers include Australians Travis Grant (FCS SUP), Jamie Mitchell, Kelly Margetts, and Lincoln Dews, Mexico's Fernando Stalla, Hawaii's Connor Baxter (Starboard), Florida's Slater Trout (Boardworks), and other world-ranked champions.
The Alderman's youngest son Jack, 11, will participate in the Harbor Island Recreational Race a 3.5-mile flat water adventure for beginner to intermediate SUP enthusiasts.
"They [the Aldermans] should get a special family award," said John Beausang. "They're enjoying the Carolina Cup the way we intended it, with the whole family having fun all weekend long."
The outdoor expo at Blockade Runner is "probably the largest on the East Coast," added Beausang. "Every leading manufacturer, including title sponsor SUP ATX, will be here with boards, accessories, gear, and clothing."
"You don't have to race to come down. It's such a great spectator sport. Even the pros, these top athletes in the world, are very approachable and nice," said Beausang.
A portion of proceeds will benefit The Ocean of Hope, paddlers and ocean enthusiasts dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Sarcoma Alliance to help those fighting cancer.
The Carolina Cup is sanctioned by the World Paddle Association.