Anderson, Ching Win 2014 SUP Champions Tour

2014 SUP Champions Tour winners Danny Ching and Annabel Anderson. Photo: Brian Munce
2014 SUP Champions Tour winners Danny Ching and Annabel Anderson. Photo: Brian Munce

2014 Sup Champion Tour Crowns Annabel Anderson and Danny Ching as Inaugural Champions

The inaugural season for the The SUP Champions Tour has come and gone with Annabel Anderson and Danny Ching taking overall titles. The Tour released a presser yesterday. Here’s the gist:

Six months ago several of the top male (Travis Grant, Connor Baxter, Danny Ching, George Cronsteadt, Lincoln Dews, Jamie Mitchell, Casper Steinfath, Chase Kosterlitz, Matt Becker, Chuck Patterson and many more), and female sup racers (Annabel Anderson, Jenny Kalmbach, Lina Augaitis and others) sat down with the goal to unify professional SUP racing around the world.

There are currently at least three entities that claim to crown a world champion: the WPA, World Series, and ISA. However, none of them have the support of all, or even most, of the athletes. And all are restricted to a particular board class and racing style.

The Champions Tour athletes wanted to support the biggest and best events (in the sport), events we felt deserved our support. (And we posed these questions to our panel): Does bringing top competitors to an event help grow the sport? When professional paddlers show up to events, does it help grow the event and make it better? Where do athletes rank at the end of the year based off race results at the best events, against the best racers?

The Champions Tour picked seven races that encompass a wide range of styles and board classes. The men were scored for their top five races and women for their top four results. Here are the seven:

Carolina Cup, Graveyard elite result, winner Danny Ching

Olukai Ho’olaule’a, line honors, winner Connor Batxer

Lost Mills, distance race, winner Eric Terrian

Ultimate SUP Showdown, race side final result, winner Kai Lenny

Gorge Paddle Challenge, combined 2 day result, winner Connor Baxter

BOP elite, line honors, winner Kai Lenny

BOP distance, 14′ elite division, winner Danny Ching

The tie breaker this year was a count back to next best result (sixth result for men, fifth for women) to reward consistent finishes.

So that’s the meat of it. Here’s where the racers that made enough starts to qualify ended up:

1 Danny Ching
2 Travis Grant
3 Connor Baxter
4 Georges Cronsteadt
5 Kai Lenny
6 Jake Jensen
7 Chase Kosterlitz
8 Eric Terrien
9 Slater Trout
10 Beau O’Brian

1 Annabel Anderson
2 Lina Augaitis
3 Sonni Honscheid
4 Candice Appleby
5 Jenny Kalmbach
6 Angela Jackson
7 Fiona Wylde
8 Andrea Moller
9 Kelsa Gabehart
10 Talia Decoite

A quick takeaway before we get into more analysis for the upcoming season: The Champions Tour was a really solid first stab at trying to unify a severely segmented sport. Think about all the events out there, all the genres, all the types of paddling festivals. The task of following all of them makes our collective heads spin here at the magazine. The events the Champions Tour picked are without a doubt, some of the best races on the planet. And the paddlers that support them some of the best athletes.

That said, there are also some quality events on circuits like the Standup World Series–which boasts an extremely international, and extremely young, group of athletes that follow it’s tour–that shouldn’t be set out to pasture or disregarded.

The Champions Tour has real legs, especially with paddlers like Ching and Anderson–two of this young sport’s all-time greats–lending their names to it. The events are solid and stand alone, without the tour, and the intentions of the CT’s panel also seem to be in the right place. Our only hope is for some sort unification to occur on some level. Because the truth of the matter? There are now simply too many talented paddlers out there willing to chase the best races in the sport. The time for a unified front is now.

To read more about the Champions Tour and see this year’s results go to SupChampionsTour.com.