Quiksilver Waterman’s Festival Predictions
Hype. It seems like an organic thing that just happens or doesn’t. But having watched events come and go and starting some of our own, we know that’s not the case. The Quiksilver Waterman’s Festival at Huntington Beach, California this Sunday is coming out all swagger thanks to Jamie Mitchell’s name and vision, Quiksilver’s support and sign ups from top racers from around the world.
Some of that hype is also due to Mitchell’s “Survivor” format in which racers compete in back-to-back-to-back heats in a technical course in and out through the surf, with the last finishers being eliminated in each round. The surviving competitors get a few minutes to rest and then go out for another round until the finals. That also means that if you don’t get cut but still finish towards the back of the pack, you get less of a rest. So, not only do participants need to have the gumption to hammer out short, powerful laps but they also must do so again and again in a serious, power-endurance test.
It’s an exciting format and one that will challenge some of the best standup paddlers, prone paddlers and swimmers in the world. On the SUP side, the lineup is looking stacked. Connor Baxter, Mo Freitas, Travis Grant, Danny Ching, Casper Steinfath, Candice Appleby, Annabel Anderson, Terrene Black, Slater Trout and Toby Cracknell are just a few of the names confirmed to take on the JM Sufferfest.
The X factor for the race is the surf but this weekend’s forecast is calling for absolutely minuscule waves, which will greatly affect Sunday’s outcome. Huntington is home to dumpy beachbreak waves 98 percent of the year. But this past week and the coming weekend have held some of the calmest ocean conditions this season. It’s going to be even more of a technical, guts-for-glory style race. Racers aren’t going to have the luck of Neptune on their side, they’re really going to have to earn it.
It’s worth mentioning too that the race is open board class, which means you can ride whatever you want. If it was going to be bombing six-foot sets, I think we’d see a lot of 12’6″ action. With the small conditions I think we’ll see a lot of 14-footers on the water.
If there were waves, you’d have to go with names like Baxter and Freitas on the men’s side, who are some of the most dynamic and quickest racers in the sport--just look at Freitas’ Technical win at #PPG2015 or Baxter’s countless sprint-race wins. But the lack of surf will level the playing field some and I think veteran guys with endurance and sheer power like Grant and Ching have a real chance at taking this thing. For the women, it’s hard to look past Appleby, who excels in the surf zone, no matter how small. But Anderson never backs down from a challenge and the smaller waves could play to her favor. There will also be young challengers like Shae Foudy looking for their time in the limelight.
And that’s just for SUP. There’s a long list of hyper-competitive Australian athletes such as Lachie Lansdown, Lincoln Dews and Matt Poole lined up to support their boy Mitchell in the swim and prone divisions too.
You’ll be itching for action if you’ve been on the beach watching so don’t forget about the open five-mile paddle and the dash-for-cash series. There’s competitive fun to be had for everyone.
Stayed tuned to SUPthemag.com, facebook/supthemag.com and @supthemag on Instagram for updates on this Sunday’s action.