After another successfully busy year of globetrotting, the Standup World Series heads back to headquarters at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore for the ultimate ending to 2013. With two racing events, and final points at stake, the best SUP racers from around the world will put everything on the line in the final leg of the run for the World Champion Title at the 2013 Standup World Series Finals.
Take a look as we break down the Finals’ two races, their courses, and dive deeper into the rivalries and current rankings of the World Series' top contenders of the year. --SC
Long Distance Race Course: Turtle Bay to Haleiwa
Saturday’s Long Distance Race is, without doubt, the longest race of the year for the World Series. At just under 13 miles in distance, it takes in the entire seven-mile miracle of surf breaks and some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. However, it also involves some of the most interesting variables, presenting its own challenges to every athlete while they race for the final points of the year.
• The Opening Stage: From the start, the opening section provides the fastest racing on the course, with ideal downwind open ocean conditions. The pack of competitors will fly down the first section from Turtle Bay, paddling southwest to Sunset in nearly no time.
• The Middle Section: Once competitors pass Sunset and Pipeline, the coast seems to run away and the wind turns more to an offshore direction, making it a much tougher paddle, as athletes will have to work hard and choose their line strategically to make it past Waimea and the latter section of the course.
• The Final Leg: The approach to the historic town of Haleiwa makes things interesting, as the coastline returns, the wind shifts to come from behind again, and the surf starts to hit, providing an exciting finish, as athletes will pass the harbor wall and enter Ali’i Beach Park for the final surf ride to the finish.
World Series Sprint Racing: Turtle Bay
Sunday’s Sprint Race course has been described as the 'ultimate arena for the sport,' where technical sprint racing meets the surf zone for one of the most dynamic and spectator-friendly spectacles in the sport, all within feet of the Hang Ten Pool Bar at Turtle Bay Resort. Adopting the World Series Heat Elimination format, the Sprint Racing will be greeted with a decent swell this year that will once again provide a show like none other for the final day of action at the 2013 World Series Finals, presented by Amp Energy.
The course is a simple triangle course, with the opening leg taking racers out through the channel. The competitors will then round a buoy towards Kuilima Point, followed by the final turn taking the athletes back through the surf zone into the finish.
Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny
As anticipated, it's a fight to the finish on the 2013 Standup World Series, with the World Title calculated from athletes’ top three results, making up for 70% of the result, and the prestigious Finals, making up the final 30% of the result. This means that Current World Rankings Leader, Connor Baxter, will be wearing the yellow jersey this weekend, but will once again face his arch rival, Kai Lenny, for the last time this year, as the two will once again go head-to-head and battle to the finish.
Connor and Kai have dominated this year's World Series and their rivalry has become a battle of the ages to get to this point, as both have notched up strong results throughout the year. However, Connor does have the edge coming into the Finals, as he managed to secure three bullet wins for his three counting results, which gives him the highest points possible towards the overall result, having won both long distance and sprint racing at all three of the counting events. Kai had one bullet win in Hamburg, and two results with second and first places counting towards his scorecard, so he'll need to put it all on the line this weekend to secure the Title.
Here are the exact scenarios:
• If Connor wins the World Series Final, he is the 2013 World Champion.
• If Kai wins and Connor gets a second place in both events, Connor is the 2013 World Champion.
• If Kai wins the World Series Final with a bullet win (winning both Sprint and Long Distance races), Kai will win the World Title, if Connor gets a second and a third or worse in the two races.
The scenarios will change depending on the two competitors' respective results in both Sprint and Long Distance Races.
Casper Steinfath and Zane Schweitzer
While the Title Race is very much in the hands of Connor and Kai, the stacked fleet of talented paddlers that's right on their heels can make or break the Title hopes of the two leading athletes, as they have all proved capable over the year. There's also an intense battle for the podium that's been brewing throughout the season between stand out racers Casper Steinfath of Denmark and Zane Schweitzer of Maui. Both athletes have had stellar a year, with consistent finishes across all events, and are currently lying in third and fourth respectively, just a point apart.
Zane has showed his prowess here at Turtle Bay, winning the inaugural Sprint Racing of the North Shore Paddle Challenge back in 2011, and wrapping up 2012 with a Finals finish, with this year's convincing performances showing his strength as a racer. Meanwhile, Casper has also shown his strength in Hawaii with a stunning performance at the 2012 World Series Finals, which foreshadowed the fact that he's become a force to be reckoned with throughout the 2013 Season.
Mo Freitas and Jake Jensen
Just a few points behind Zane and Casper is Haleiwa's local phenomenon, Mo Freitas, as well as Jake Jensen from Australia. Mo has had a spectacular year on both the Standup World Tour (surfing) and World Series (racing), and is currently lying in fifth place. As one of the most skilled surfers on the Tour, he has also proven he is a fierce racer too, and the combination of the two skills will serve him well on his home waters in Hawaii.
While Mo is just barely ahead, Jake Jensen has been on a dramatic roll the past couple of months, from a strong result in Chicago, to his win last month in the Long Distance Race in Huntington Beach (which gave him a second place overall for the event), he is a real threat on the Standup World Series and will certainly be someone to watch out for. Also noteworthy, is the fact that Jake is the only other athlete besides Kai and Connor to win either the Sprints or Long Distance at any of the World Series Races this year.
Kody Kerbox and Eric Terrien
Right behind Mo and Jake is Maui's Kody Kerbox, who has been putting on strong performance after strong performance this year, across both the World Tour and World Series. Kody is currently lying in third on the World Tour, with a ranking of seventh overall coming into the prestigious World Series Finals. Kody will certainly make use of his surfing skills and ocean knowledge to improve on his overall position for 2013 at the World Series Finals.
In eighth overall is the powerhouse from France, Eric Terrien. Always dangerous, Eric will be looking for a strong finish at Turtle Bay after a solid series of results throughout the 2013 World Series. Eric's stamina is unquestionable and his commitment to perform is impressive, so watch out for the Frenchman, especially in the Long Distance Race from Turtle Bay to Haleiwa.
Local Dark Horses
The list goes on, as far as men’s talent goes, and some other notable racers to watch out for will be the local dark horses, such as Andrew Logreco, Noa Ginella, and Riggs Napoleon, as local knowledge will certainly play into the equation at the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay.
In the women’s fleet, New Zealand's Annabel Anderson has once again been the dominant force across the entire 2013 season, but not without some fierce competition across all the stops on the Series. While another World Title is right within her grasp at the Finals this year, she'll have to watch out for the talent that's right on her heels.
Angela Jackson from Australia will certainly be someone to watch this weekend, as she steps up to do battle on Oahu’s North Shore and strengthen her standing. With second place finishes in France and Germany, Angela is in great position coming into the final event. Also to watch out for is French athlete Olivia Piana, who was on impressive form last year at the World Series Finals, and has posted some strong results this year on the World Series, including a third place finish back at home at the Oléron event in France.
The visiting competitors will be facing strong competition on Oahu, with Hawaiian racers Rachel Bruntsch, Halie Harrison, Mariko Strickland, and Jenn Lee, amongst many others. This all-important Finals event will not only conclude the final overall ratings for 2013, but will also provide the winning athletes with a major event result, bragging rights and well-deserved prize money.
The World Series has quite the buildup for this weekend as the 2013 tour comes to a dramatic close in SUP’s ultimate arena, Turtle Bay. It all starts this Friday, October 11, at 6pm HST, as Waterman League presents the 2013 World Series contenders at Turtle Bay Resort's Surfer the Bar.
You can watch it all go down live this weekend at WatermanLeague.com and SUPtheMag.com.