Kai Lenny takes off on a bomb at sunset. | Photo Courtesy: Waterman League
OAHU, Hawaii - It is that time of year again, and the Stand Up World Tour will kick off at the end of next week with the Turtle Bay Women’s Pro, followed by the Sunset Beach Pro on the 10th February out here on Oahu’s Fabled North Shore. Coming into its 6th year, Sunset has never failed to provide a magical start to the year, as the best of the best come together at this iconic North Shore wave to do battle at the first stop of the World Championship season.
For Sunset, an opening event at Turtle Bay Resort on the 9th from 5pm will lead to a first possible start on the 10th morning at 8am HST, with what is set to be one of the most exciting Trials events yet. It will all be brought to you LIVE at www.watermanleague.com, so make sure to stay tuned for the real time updates on facebook as Sunset will dictate whether we go each day or not. The holding period for Sunset will run from the 10th – 18th February.
The Best of the Best to step up to do battle at one of the World’s most iconic waves. | Photo Courtesy: Waterman League
This year’s event is more stacked than ever, coming off the most competitive year yet on the Stand Up World Tour last year, where we saw Kai Lenny (Naish) and Caio Vaz (Art in Surf) battle it out until the end for the Title, and an incredibly tight battle for 3rd thru 6th making for an exciting finish to the year.
Caio Vaz will be looking for vengeance in 2015, and a repeat performance of his stunning 2014 victory here at Sunset that set the tone for his year and dominance thru the first half of the season last year. However, with 3 victories here at Sunset and 4 World Titles, Kai Lenny will be looking to stand strong at home and start the year as he intends to continue. Sean Poynter (Starboard,FCS) is back and finished the year on a roll in 2014, with a win at the Finals in France and a consecutive win at the Location X ehibition event in Morocco. However, right behind him, Poenaiki Raioha (F-One), Zane Schweitzer (Starboard, FCS) and Mo Freitas (Focus SUP), North Shore local will be looking to step up this year and close the gap on Kai and Caio.
Caio Vaz, last year's winner will be looking for a repeat win. | Photo Courtesy: Waterman League
The talent pool runs deep on the Stand Up World Tour, so while these are a few of the leading lights, expect some major performances across the board, as Sunset specialists, meet some of the younger progressive athletes for a showcase of performance Stand Up Paddlesurfing at its very best.
As the birthplace and global capital of surfing and indeed Stand Up Paddling, it is to be expected that the local contenders will be a major force to be reckoned with at the Sunset Beach Pro, with an intimate knowledge of the tricky line up and a weatlh of experience and expertise that will challenge the best of the best. The Stand Up World Tour wildcard process pays tribute to this local talent by awarding a minimum of 4 spots to the Hawaiian surfers to skip the Trials and go directly into the 48 man main event, with additional wildcards awarded to international athletes that have proved their worth across the globe and are worthy of their spot.
Kala Alexander, Sunset Beach specialist. | Photo Courtesy: Waterman League / Hank Fotos
Given the extent of talent, it is a challenging process to decide these wildcards, but a board comprised of World Tour Officials and regional athlete representatives is charged with this decision through a voting process to determine the worthy candidates. The final list will be announced on Monday, but you can expect to see the likes of Kala Alexander who has been a standout in the history of this event, Bonga Perkins, the winner of this event back in 2012 as well as being multiple times Longboard World Champion and then of course Aaron Napoleon (Rogue), an undoubted legend in the sport.
From an international perspective, expect to see representatives from the US, Australia and Brazil, as the final list will be released at on Monday. To get a taste of what we have in store at this years prestigious Sunset Beach Pro, watch below.