Chalk this one up as a win for mountain culture. Two years ago, Annabel Anderson, a former raft guide and ski racer from Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, jumped into the standup racing scene. Surprising not only the females, but also the males with her speed and power in crunch time, the incredibly humble Kiwi took the sport by storm with a fiercely competitive approach. Now, after an intense year of relentless travel, racing, and rehabilitating injuries, the 2012 winner of the SEA Paddle NYC and leading lady in the Standup World Series can add the coveted title of Battle of the Paddle Champion to her list of achievements. — SC
What does your Battle win mean to you?
To even make the podium is an amazing thing. And to be at the top of podium is a privilege, not a right. It really makes you appreciate the good days. I don't think I could have asked for better results. Actually, I'm slightly astounded at how I did. I guess it hasn't really sunk in yet, but the most amazing this is, when you've done something like this, no one can take it away from you.
This year you didn't race against the field of women until BOP and you also faced some adversity prior to the event. Did you feel like the underdog going into the weekend?
Because I have been competing on the Standup World Series tour and doing a lot of travel, I haven't really done any of the major US races that a lot of the other girls have. In July I tore the medial ligament in my knee and couldn't walk. I think it's better to be understated sometimes, but this weekend wasn't a fluke—I've had some great results this year and knew I'd probably be with the top five.
Since the BOP is basically the de facto World Championships, how does it feel to be called World Champ?
It's funny because I haven't been doing anything different— SUP is just as important to me as running or anything else I love to do. There are a lot of amazing watermen and women that made the sport what it is and have been here before me, but I think what's important is that we all have a responsibility to be sportsmanlike, especially now as a lot of kids look up to us.
So you're headed home for summer?
I'm going back [to New Zealand] for the Kiwi summer, but I'm still kind of in go-mode with plans to sort and figuring out the logistics of travel. When I'm back in New Zealand I'll be competing two or three times a week in the State Beach Series Races and other events. The Battle was good training for the upcoming summer— the State Beach Series might as well be the weekly World Championships, that’s how seriously the guys take it down there and man, they’re quick. There's always carnage with close to 100 paddlers on the start line and it's always a good time.
What else do you have in store for 2012?
I'll be taking part in the Paddle for Hope charity event in Auckland and then heading straight to Brazil for the Rocky Man Adventure Challenge as part of an invitational Kiwi team. The event is including SUP for the first time, so it's an honor be invited. My athletic background will be coming into play and I’ve been selected as much for my running ability as my paddling. There are a few other adventures in store. Watch this space.
Click here to read more about the champ.