connor baxter barcelona

Connor Baxter wears the yellow jersey with authority as he reclaims his presence at the head of the pack coming into the 2015 Standup World Series. Photo: Albert P. Laborda/Waterman League

Baxter, Appleby Sweep World Series Stop No. 1 in Barcelona

The opening event of the 2015 Standup World Series, held over the weekend in Barcelona, Spain, played out in storybook fashion as last year’s World Series champion, Connor Baxter, ignited his 2015 campaign with commanding first-place finishes in both the distance and sprint races.

Baxter's dominance shouldn't have surprised anyone, but it may have been an upset for some. Fellow pack-leader, Kai Lenny, finished second overall in Barcelona, a valiant effort but without the definitiveness of Baxter's victory. Lenny earned his way to the Finals and nabbed second in the sprint race, but took an uncharacteristic seventh in the distance event, which found Lenny in a points tie with French racer, Arthur Arutkin. As the overall standing went to the racer with the highest single-event ranking, Lenny's runner-up finish in the sprint was enough to break the tie and synch the second-place overall title. Look for Lenny and Baxter to go back and forth throughout the World Series calendar.

Casper Steinfath

Defending European Cup titleholder Casper "The Viking" Steinfath heads to next weekend's World Challenger Series event in Finland after a fifth overall in Barcelona. Photo: Waterman League

Arutkin—a talented SUP surfer and burgeoning contender on the international race circuit—put on an powerful display at this year's World Series opener, earning third-place overall and awarding himself stature as the Series' unquestionable early dark horse. After beating many of the world's top competitors in both the distance and sprint races, Arutkin is on everyone's radar as a well-rounded threat for the 2015 season.

On the women's front, Candice Appleby delivered unrivaled dominance, claiming victory in both the sprint and flatwater races at the Barceloneta Beach race venue. Appleby's win comes after a less than ideal 6th-place finish at the Payette River Games, from which she left directly for Barcelona to seek redemption on flat water. There she found it in cunning style ahead of runner-up Angie Jackson, whose second-place overall finish was awarded after the points tie broke narrowly in her favor ahead of young Slovenian talent, Manca Notar.

While the 2015 Standup World Series is off to a characteristic start given the lead-holders and their traditional dominance, plenty of talented wildcards, such as Arutkin and Notar, are displaying early potential to shake things up drastically heading into Stop No. 2 on the Standup World Series, the Fehmarn World Cup, Germany in July.

Stay tuned to for more European event coverage and insight from the Standup World Series.

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First-place overall victors of Stop No. 1 of the Standup World Series—Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby—revel in the rewards of victory. Photo:

First-place overall victors at stop number one of the Standup World Series—Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby—revel in the rewards of sweet victory. Photo: Waterman League