The Scoop On the Ultimate SUP Showdown
The Ultimate SUP Showdown is coming this weekend. Basically, 74 of the best standup paddle athletes in the world will compete in their respective disciplines (a full surf contest for the surfers and a full race for the racers) for a chance to compete in the Showdown, a W-shaped course that runs through Waikiki’s waves, which should be sizable come Monday. It’s the second year of the event. We chatted with organizer Boyd Jeffery about his unique format, who he thinks will win and being broadcast on national TV.
What's different than last year?
We did this last year and there were 32 athletes. This year we doubled it. We also added the TV aspect with CBS Sports (Network). The format is not different. I reached out to athletes to give me input, what they wanted to see, what was wrong, what was working in other competitions and come up with this. Because I involved them (last year) ran pretty well. 'm gonna live and die by making racers surf and making surfers race. The ultimate paddler can do both better than anyone else. I think that's the future of the showdown and, humbly, the future of the sport.
You have an impressive grouping of SUP athletes together for this thing. How did you get them all on-board?
I’ve heard a lot of people saying it’s the most paddling talent ever assembled in one list. We've got 25,000 in prize money this year and I'm paying it in 100 dollar bills. Last year, all I did was call every athlete personally and then met with 95 percent of them. This year, I called every athlete personally and gave them a personal invite to the Showdown. I give them the respect they deserve and they trust me. All the athletes (that competed last year) said this guy did what he was going to do from a competition with food, shade and a great after party to paying them out.
How's the swell looking?
It's macking now, the swell is a solid three-to-four feet and will hold through Sunday’s surf action, maybe dropping a foot for the finale on Monday afternoon. If we had the Showdown right now we'd be loving it. It’s built for carnage.
You seem to have a big TV production going on too.
We have a helicopter, we’ll have guys in the water, out of the water, on scaffolding and out in a boat. We're going to cover this thing from everywhere. If there's the waves were hoping for it's going to look good on TV.
Who do you think is a favorite with the conditions?
On paper you've got the top guys that are going to do well like Kai (Lenny), Connor (Baxter), Travis (Grant), Zan (Schweitzer), Danny (Ching). Anyone in the top ten that could take the victory. And with the wave size the lead change is going to switch the whole time. Whoever starts in last can finish first. It’s going to be a little luck, a lot of skill and a little positioning. It's tough to predict and that's the fun part of it.
Thanks, Boyd. Looking forward to it.
Coverage from last year here.