5 Takeaways from SUP’s Battle on the Thames

The face of jubilation.
The face of jubilation. APP World Tour

The 2019 APP World Tour has officially kicked off.
So what do you need to know? Well, if this past weekend in London is any indication, for one, it’s going to be a thrilling season. The London SUP Open featured new race formats, an iconic venue and thrilling photo finishes that proved the world’s top standup paddlers are hungrier than ever. Here are five key takeaways from SUP’s Battle of the Thames.

17-Year-Old Noic Garioud is the Real Deal

Last August, a 16-year-old from New Caledonia made waves throughout the SUP industry by securing a victory in the double downwinder at the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. The win was an upset, but young Noic Garioud is proving that result was far from a fluke.

The season-opening London SUP Open marks an opportunity for the top paddlers to set the tone for the upcoming season and Garioud was up to the task. After finishing sixth place in the distance race on Saturday, the now 17-year-old came back on Sunday and put the hammer down in the sprint races.

After dispatching elite paddlers including Connor Baxter, Itzel Delgado and Arthur Arutkin in the early rounds, he faced off against Casper Steinfath, Claudio Nika and fellow New Caledonian, Titouan Puyo, in the finals. Despite being the youngest of the bunch, Garioud put his head down and got the win. The result was enough to propel him to the Men’s Overall victory for the weekend over Michael Booth–who won distance race on Saturday–and Puyo rounding out the Men’s podium

Men’s Overall Results

Men's Overall Results
Men’s Overall Results APP World Tour

Seychelle Makes a Statement

Lots of question marks were swirling around the Pro Women’s field coming into this weekend. With reigning APP World Champ Shae Foudy still recovering from an abdominal tear, competitors and fans alike were anxious to see who would step up in London.

It would not take long for that answer to come into focus.

 

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That moment when you realize you just took out the biggest field in your life… This win felt, well, you can see for yourself… I don’t think there’s are many more satisfying feelings than reveling in a moment of sweet Victory. Knowing that you just absolutely crushed something. I’m still on cloud nine. This weekend for the distance race I used my @sicmaui RS 14×21.5 with my @blackprojectsup Tiger fin and hydro 78 pro carbon paddle. For the technical I used the 14×21.5 RS with the sonic fin and 83 pro carbon hydro paddle. So grateful that I have such amazing gear!💯‼️🙏🏻💙 #sweetvictory #victory #unizilla #roar #scream #londonsupopen #appworldtour #boundbywater #celebrate #proud #pride #stoked #standuppaddle #winning #finishline

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Seychelle kicked off the weekend with a hard-fought victory in the distance race over Canadian Lina Augaitis. The American paddler backed up that result on Sunday with blistering speed in the sprint races and managed to outlast fellow veteran paddlers April Zilg and Candice Appleby to claim a sweep on the weekend’s races. In the process, she also put the rest of the ladies on notice–this might just be Seychelle’s year.

Women’s Overall Results

Women's Overall Results
Women’s Overall Results APP World Tour

Thrilling Photo Finishes

In the world of racing, there’s nothing more exciting than a photo finish. Watching those heart-thumping final moments of a race as two competitors leave it all on the line is what we live for. The London SUP Open did not disappoint.

The Women’s distance race was a bonafide thriller, with Seychelle and Lina Augaitis separated by mere inches following a hour-long paddle battle on the Thames River. The Men’s distance race was certainly no snooze-fest either, with Michael Booth beating Lincoln Dews by less than a second.

Of course, the action didn’t slow down on Sunday with thrilling battles throughout the day in both the men’s and women’s fields. Many heats came down to a furious sprint to the end, including Seychelle edging out Zilg by only a couple feet in the finals.

Successful New Sprint Race Course 

This year, the Sprint races served as an exciting showcase of our sport at the Hackney Festival of Fitness. Race Director Anthony Vela designed a compact, tight course for the four-paddler heats that had racers rubbin’ boards throughout each heat.

To reign supreme, paddlers had to use both strategy and grit to defeat their competition. But don’t take our word for it, check out these highlights to see this close-quarters action for yourself:

Awesome Event at Iconic Venue

You can’t talk about the London SUP Open without first acknowledging just how iconic and beautiful this venue is. SUP racing along the Thames River is a sight to behold as the world’s best stroked past several of London’s most iconic sites including Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and under Westminster Bridge.

An iconic starting line for the Distance race in the London SUP Open.
An iconic starting line for the Distance race in the London SUP Open. APP World Tour

Meanwhile, the sport was also well-represented at London’s Hackney Festival of Fitness. This active lifestyle event was a perfect pairing for the APP’s City Paddle Festivals and was successful in getting new people on the water.

On Saturday, the APP hosted several SUP Open races for amateurs to compete on the canals. Meanwhile, fans got to cheer on their favorite paddlers on Sunday during the spectator-friendly SUP Sprint races.

Paddlers will now get a chance to regroup before resuming competition in August for Stop #2 of the APP World Tour in the Big Apple.

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The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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