2018 Red Bull Heavy Water to Return With Major Changes

The gnarliest race in SUP is returning for another year.

Red Bull and the APP World Tour just announced that the 2018 Red Bull Heavy Water will be returning to San Francisco, with the waiting period open from October 15 to November 2. But this year isn’t just a rehash of the previous two versions of this ultra-challenging race through double-overhead waves. Instead, organizers have come up with two major changes to the format.

First and foremost, women will be invited to participate in this year’s Red Bull Heavy Water. Their lack of inclusion became a major issue last year, as the male-only field incited women in the sport and spawned the #ipaddleforequality movement. While it is still unclear as to how many women will compete, the event page states, “…the location will guarantee 36 of the world’s best SUP athletes, waves over 10 feet high and consist of an open course stretching 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) starting from the San Francisco Bay and finishing at Ocean Beach.”

That leads us to the other major development: this year’s course will be run in reverse of the course from the previous two years. Instead of starting into the powerful beachbreak of Ocean Beach and then paddling into the San Francisco Bay for the finish, the Bay will mark the start line and Ocean Beach’s punishing waves will provide the final test for whoever wants to be crowned 2018 Red Bull Heavy Water Champion.

Last year, Casper Steinfath took home top honors. This year, choosing a winner is a crapshoot. But we’re looking forward to watching both the men and women challenge themselves in the toughest race of year.

For more information, let Kai Lenny and Izzi Gomez fill you in on some more race details and their expectations for what this new format will bring.

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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