Connor Baxter, Candice Appleby Take Gold on Day One at Hayama Pro Japan

Stop No. 2 of the Stand Up World Series, the Victoria Cup Hayama Pro Japan, kicked off yesterday in epic style, with more than 300 athletes, including some of the world’s top racers, showing up to compete for a weekend stacked with racing action. The event opened with a 10 kilometer distance race, which saw Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby—who entered the event in the lead with yellow jerseys—both taking first and upholding their roles as the fastest racers in the series. Today, the action continues with the 6 kilometer open race, followed by sprint races for the pros.

kai lenny connor baxter japan

First-place winner Connor Baxter and runner up Kai Lenny hug it out after an epic battle to the finish in the Day One distance race at the Hayama Pro, Japan. Photo: Waterman League

Day One for the Men

Connor Baxter (Starboard) puts on another stellar performance in today's long distance race to take the win on Day 1 here in Japan, but not without a serious battle. Connor led through the first lap, but on the upwind leg on lap 2, Kai Lenny (Naish) was able to battle back to take the lead coming into the top buoy. Uncharacteristically, Kai falls on the outside buoy, but like Kai, he is straight back up and going within seconds. However, the slip up was enough for Connor to just take the lead, pole position that he would hold through to the finish line to take the win, despite a major surge from Kai in the closing 100m that led to an exciting finish, who was forced to settle for second.

In 3rd place, we saw another impressive performance from the young French talent Arthur Arutkin (Fanatic), who broke away from the the solid 12 person deep pack that led through the first lap along with Connor, Kai, Mo Freitas (Focus SUP) and Kody Kerbox (Naish), and was able to maintain his position to secure a well deserved 3rd place.

Mo Freitas, last year's Champion here in Japan was also in the leading pack throughout the race and was able to maintain throughout, battling for pole position at one point, and securing an extremely credible 4th place in the end, after a well fought out battle. In 5th place, Leonard Nika (Starboard) from Italy fought back after trailing Maui's Kody Kerbox (Naish) and Casper Steinfath (Naish) for much of the race, to just get the edge in a sprint to the finish.

A great result from all the athletes here in a challenging and hot long distance race, but a course that allowed for some great downwind racing for the World's best. Noteworthy performances also from the leading Japanese athletes Kenny Kaneko and Tomoyasu Murabayashi (Starboard) who finished in 7th and 13th respectively.

Here is the Official Top 12 from today's racing:

  1. Connor Baxter (Starboard)
  2. Kai Lenny (Naish)
  3. Arthur Arutkin (Fanatic)
  4. Mo Freitas (Focus SUP)
  5. Leonard Nika (Starboard)
  6. Casper Steinfath (Naish)
  7. Kenny Kaneko
  8. Kody Kerbox (Naish)
  9. Zane Schweitzer (Starboard)
  10. Paul Jackson
  11. Dylan Frick (Starboard)
  12. Jake Jensen (Fanatic)


Fiona Wylde, runner up in the 2015 #HayamaPro 10 kilometer distance race. Photo: Waterman League

Fiona Wylde, runner up in the 2015 #HayamaPro 10 kilometer distance race. Photo: Waterman League

Day One for the Women

Candice Appleby (Infinity) takes the well deserved win in the long distance race here on Day 1 of the 2015 Victoria Cup Hayama Pro in Japan. A strong start saw Candice take the lead early and build on it through the race, despite a major comeback from the young phenom, Fiona Wylde (Starboard), but it was Candice who managed to persevere to take the win.

Fiona continues to assert herself as a major force to be reckoned with on the global stage for both Racing and Surfing, with another impressive performance here in Japan and a solid start to this weekend's racing with an extremely credible 2nd place finish today. Tomorrow will be the sprint racing, a discipline that she is equally strong in, so it will be interesting to see how she fares in the overall here in Japan, as there is no doubt she is fast become the major double threat (surf & Race).

In 3rd place, Manca Notar (Naish) put on a powerful performance today, maintaining her 3rd place throughout the race and right to the finish line, but really closing the gap between herself and the top 2 finishers coming into the closing straight.

Rounding out the Top 5 were last year's Champion Angela Jackson in 4th and Celine Guerdon (Bic SUP) in France, for an intense day of racing for the women's fleet. Here are the Official Top 6 finishers from today's long distance racing:

  1. Candice Appleby (Infinity)
  2. Fiona Wylde (Starboard)
  3. Manca Notar (Naish)
  4. Angela Jackson
  5. Celine Guesdon (Bic SUP)
  6. Takayo Yokoyama
Words courtesy of the Waterman League.