Anderson, Ching win Carolina Cup

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Anderson, Ching win Carolina Cup

In one of the country’s toughest races, experience matters. That’s why Danny Ching and Annabel Anderson were able to fight through difficult conditions—and stacked fields—to win the Carolina Cup, the opening race of the newly formed Champions Tour.

The 13-mile course started in open ocean on the beautiful coastline of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina before racers rounded a jetty into the intracoastal waterway separating Wrightsville Beach from Wilmington. They then fought their way through surf and powerful current back out into the open ocean, racing against side wind and chop to complete the circle and reach the finish line.

Ching chose the right line when he re-entered the open ocean from the backbay. But he wasn’t so sure at first, he said. Australia’s Jamie Mitchell (5th) and Tahiti’s Georges Cronsteadt (2nd) took the more shallow, inside line—nearer to the shoreline—and created distance between themselves and Ching but he was able to slowly reel them in in the choppy side wind, beating Cronsteadt by 36 seconds.

It was a solid race from both Mitchell and Cronsteadt who each had real chances to win the race, as did third place finisher Travis Grant and Chase Kosterlitz, who finished fourth.

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On the women’s side, Annabel Anderson looked as casual as one could given the brisk winds, the current and how close the other ladies made it at the finish. The Kiwi pulled out a serious lead in the backbay but Hawaii’s Jenny Kalmbach and Canada’s Lina Augaitis worked together, trading off drafting, to nearly catch her. Kalmbach finished around six seconds behind Anderson and Augaitis crossed the end line another five seconds after Kalmbach.

Anderson has been noticeably absent from World Series events this year, instead choosing to work more in her native New Zealand, surfing and concentrating on local events while traveling less. “I’m just trying to keep it fresh,” she said.

Connor Baxter, on the other hand, was not able to stay fresh. The young Maui native has been fantastic during 2014’s early events but told us before the race that he was seriously drained after traveling around the world from Abu Dhabi. He actually was leading at one point in the intracoastal section of the course before finishing 12th overall trying to fight the exhausting side chop and tidal current, a surprising finish for one of the sport’s best athletes. But he wasn’t the only one who was tired. Mo Freitas, who also criss-crossed the globe from Abu Dhabi, finished outside the top 15 when he usually vies for top five finishes.

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If we’re to judge this new Champions Tour by the opening event then it seems like there’s good things to come. Aside from Kai Lenny and a few others, most of the sport’s best racers were on hand, including young Australians Lincoln Dews and Toby Cracknell, who finished 9th and 10th respectively. John Beausang, who does an incredible job organizing this event aimed at both pros and average joes (like us), was worried at first about being the Champions Tour’s opening event because of the strict guidelines set out by the Standup Paddle Athletes Association, a big-time backer of the new tour, and the fact that the Carolina Cup is a World Paddle Association-sanctioned event. “We didn’t really think we’d get a bump in athletes but we were pleasantly surprised,” he said.

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Beausang is hoping to hold a meeting among athletes and athlete associations such as SUPAA and the WPA later this weekend to hopefully get some clarity in a sport that now boasts two world championship tours and two athlete associations, a scenario that could potentially split the sport’s upper echelon, if it hasn’t already. “We ‘d just like to see how it all fits together,” Beausang said. “We owe a lot to the WPA and it’d be nice if we could all come together to create some unity.”

If nothing else, the Carolina Cup, with its array of races and demos, certainly did that for a thriving Southeast paddling scene.

Coverage brought to you by SIC Maui.

Stay tuned as SUP magazine brings you more Carolina CUP coverage.

1st: Danny Ching 2:23:56
2nd: Georges Cronsteadt 2:24:32
3rd: Travis Grant 2:25:01
4th: Chase Kosterlitz 2:25:47
5th: Jamie Mitchell 2:28:17
6th: Matt Becker 2:28:45
7th: Chuck Glynn 2:29:10
8th: Slater Trout 2:29:15
9th: Lincoln Dews 2:29:30
10th: Toby Cracknell 2:30:38
11th: Ryan Helm 2:32:54
12th: Connor Baxter 2:32:54
13th: Chance Fielder 2:33:41
14th: Rob Rojas 2:34:23
15th: Larry Cain 2:35:41
16th: Thomas Maximus 2:35:53
17th: Belar Diaz 2:36:50
18th: Jeramie Vaine 2:37:19
19th: Mo Freitas 2:38:07
20th: Ryan Murphy 2:38:09

1st: Annabel Anderson 2:49:13
2nd: Jenny Kalmbach 2:49:19
3rd: Lina Augaitis 2:49:24
4th: Sonni Honscheid 2:50:27
5th: Brandi Baksic 2:55:40
6th: Kelsa Gabehart 3:01:00
7th: Morgan Hoesterey 3:01:59
8th: Fiona Wylde 3:05:18
9th: April Zilg 3:08:15
10th: Helga Goebel 3:09:07
11th Mini Crash 3:14:40
12th: Bailey Rosen 3:19:36
13th: Mary Anne Boyer 3:21:41
14th: Kate Lewis 3:21:55
15th: Aimee Spector 3:23:37
16th: Kimberley Sutton 3:26:02

Please pardon any misspelled names.

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