Titouan Puyo runs up the beach to claim his second consecutive Carolina Cup. Photo: Jack Haworth

Titouan Puyo and Annabel Anderson Win 2017 Carolina Cup

On a day where the world’s top paddlers battled both choppy downwind and brutal upwind conditions, it was New Caledonia’s Titouan Puyo and New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson who emerged victorious once again at the 2017 West Marine Carolina Cup.

This symbolic kick-off to the 2017 SUP racing season did not disappoint, with hard-fought battles in both the Men’s and Women’s 13-mile elite race. The race was a grind with temperatures reaching 80 degrees and wind gusts topping 15-20 knots, nevertheless, the two victors from last year once again rose to the challenge and mastered this grueling course.

The race began with a whipping 3.5 mile downwind section that quickly separated the leaders from the rest of the field in the Men’s race. This group was basically a who’s who of standup paddlers: Puyo, Michael Booth, Connor Baxter, Mo Freitas and Travis Grant.

The five of them worked together for about an hour to break away from the second draft train–a larger one comprised of eleven paddlers. At the halfway point, Michael Booth broke ranks and attempted to break away from the pack and open up a lead.

His efforts were fruitless.

With the lead pack beginning to jockey for position in the inlet, powerhouse Tahitian paddler Georges Cronsteadt dragged the trailing pack of eleven paddlers to the front and he assumed the race lead, an impressive feat considering he was mired in the mid-20s following the tough start. This created a massive lead pack of over 10 paddlers as they struggled against the mighty headwind.

Titouan Puyo takes the lead on his way to becoming back-to-back Carolina Cup Champion. Photo: Panas

It was during this brutal stretch where pre-race favorite Michael Booth appeared to hit a wall, dropping off the lead draft train and eventually falling to an unexpected 18th place finish.

He would not be the only top paddler to have a rough day. After never finishing off the podium in his five prior races here, 3-time Carolina Cup winner Danny Ching came home 10th. Mo Freitas fell to 13th after being in the lead pack for much of the race.

It was the type of race that broke several paddlers, but not the man from New Caledonia.

Despite surrendering an early lead in the draft train shuffle, Puyo would not be denied. In shades of last year, the New Caledonian powered away from the pack once they reached the ocean for the final one-mile downwinder sprint. It was a gap he would maintain to become a back-to-back Carolina Cup champion.

“My goal was to get to the downwinder first and I caught the first wave which made a difference,” Puyo said. “Then I just caught every bump I could find.”

He was closely followed by veteran Travis Grant, who is a constant on the podium here, despite claiming to have trained less than past years. The Tahitians also put in a very strong effort with Cronsteadt rounding out the podium and fellow countryman Steeve Teihotaata coming home fourth.

The women’s field was a bit lighter than expected, with usual suspects Candice Appleby and Sonni Hönscheid no shows for the weekend.

Their absence meant that the women’s race was all about “Five-Time” Annabel Anderson. For the fifth year in a row, the Kiwi motored away from her competition to claim victory on the shores of Wrightsville Beach.

Annabel Anderson charging to her fifth consecutive Carolina Cup victory. Photo: Greg Panas

After Fiona Wylde took an early lead following the initial downwind section, the duo drafted together for over half the race. Eventually, Anderson’s powerful stroke proved to be too much for Wylde and she eventually pulled away for the victory. After crossing the finish line, Anderson had some interesting post-race comments regarding Fiona’s drafting tactics.

“If I’m being honest, it’s like I towed [Fiona] for over an hour,” Anderson said. “Eventually it was like, it’s time to have a race. Side-by-side and I literally blew through a train of guys in front of me and got a big gap. So, number five.”

Nevertheless, Anderson congratulated Wylde on the runner-up effort, her highest-career finish and first podium at this race.

“It was a gutsy perfomance [by Fiona] and I’m literally here to help teach this new generation how to race,” Anderson said. “But I believe in my work and I knew when I wanted to go and I had it in the tank to do so.”

After a grueling day on the water, the athletes now get to celebrate (or lick their wounds) as another SUP racing season is underway. It’s sure to be a season full of twists and turns, comers and goers, as paddlers continue to compete and train through another very long year.

Be sure to check in with us at SUP magazine for all the latest news, highlights, analysis, and photos. In the meantime, stay tuned for an upcoming photo gallery and in-depth analysis of all the action here in Carolina.

Full Results


1 Titouan Puyo 2:08:11
2 Travis Grant 2:08:26
3 Georges Cronsteadt 2:08:33
4 Steeve Teihotaata 2:08:38
5 Connor Baxter 2:09:08
6 Vinnicius Martins 2:09:20
7 Kelly Margetts 2:09:47
8 Josh Riccio 2:10:04
9 Rete Ebb 2:10:20
10 Danny Ching 2:10:27
11 Martin Letourneur 2:10:30
12 Bruno Hasulyo 2:10:57
13 Mo Freitas 2:12:07
14 Arthur Arutkin 2:12:57
15 Trevor Tunnington 2:13:33
16 Chase Kosterlitz 2:14:10
17 Bullet Obra 2:14:24
18 Michael Booth 2:15:28
19 Giorgio Gomez 2:15:36
20 Martino Rogai 2:15:57
21 Paolo Marconi 2:16:13
22 Garrett Fletcher 2:16:24
23 Leonard Nika 2:16:26
24 Martin Vitry 2:17:12
25 Beau O’Brian 2:17:50
26 Tauhiro Bruno 2:20:28
27 Itzel Delgado 2:21:45
28 Larry Cain 2:23:29
29 Sam English 2:26:10
30 Bill Kraft 2:26:21
31 Tommy Buday Jr. 2:27:00
32 Jeramie Vaine 2:27:34
33 Zane Schweitzer 2:28:36
34 Brad Ward 2:28:44
35 Tim Warner 2:30:38
36 Jorge Quintana 2:33:23
37 Noa Hopper 2:34:35
38 Steve Miller 2:36:47
39 Joey Huempfner 2:37:26
40 Robert Hess 2:37:41
41 Harrison Deisroth 2:37:44
42 Caio Vaz 2:37:47
43 John Batson 2:37:49
44 Brent Schmidt 2:37:53
45 Justin Schaay 2:38:17
46 Fielding Pagel 2:39:07
47 Jim Terrell 2:39:25
48 Chad Gallagher 2:42:40
49 Eric Bednorz 2:43:34
50 Jeremy Whitted 2:44:17
51 Steven Bernstein 2:45:39
52 Andrew Skeoch 2:45:51
53 Bruce Lanteires 2:46:18
54 Warren Heil 2:47:17
55 Robin Delgado 2:50:20
56 Kodie Peekstok 2:50:40
57 Brandon van Elslander 2:51:26
58 Terry Smith 2:51:34
59 Toby Cracknell 2:52:38
60 Caleb Clark 2:52:49
61 Zach Rounsaville 2:55:17
62 Ben Gareiss 2:56:49
63 Anthony Galang 2:57:47
64 Steven Barry 2:58:25
65 Gary Rothe 2:58:49
66 Daniel Rapp 3:03:22
67 Ken Bowman 3:04:01
68 Russ Scully 3:04:45
69 Derek Schrotter 3:05:17
70 Tom Pace 3:05:27
71 John Sekas 3:05:32
72 William Sodano 3:07:04
73 Mike Hill 3:08:19
74 David Dean 3:09:35
75 Gabriel Decaran-Voigt 3:10:06
76 Adam Clark 3:12:38
77 Kyle Ellison 3:14:35
78 John Heidel 3:18:24
79 Nathan Champion 3:21:40
80 Ed Pierce 3:22:39
81 Adam Pollock 3:23:33
82 Chip Boggs 3:23:42
83 Ashton Williamson 3:24:20
84 Kurt Benson 3:25:02
85 Andy Anderson 3:25:32
86 Chris Willey 3:27:55
87 Ramon Mercado 3:28:35
88 Rob Moran 3:30:35
89 Jacob Crox 3:33:12
90 Jereme Dees 3:34:09
91 Erik Kauffman 3:42:02
92 Taylor Johnson 3:44:27
93 Matthew Nacy 3:44:57
94 Andy Weinbach 3:46:37
95 Jeff Henderson 3:50:04
96 Mark Herman 3:51:46
97 Adrian Angell 4:09:24

Elite Graveyard Race: Women

1 Annabel Anderson 2:29:38
2 Fiona Wylde 2:31:46
3 Olivia Piana 2:32:50
4 April Zilg 2:39:43
5 Seychelle Hattingh 2:41:41
6 Lena Ribeiro 2:43:29
7 Penelope Strickland 2:47:59
9 Susak Molinero 2:52:21
10 Hannah Hill 2:53:58
11 Lexi Alston 3:01:27
12 Maddie Miller 3:01:52
13 Katherine Pyne 3:04:17
17 Stephanie Shideler 3:06:00
18 Carter Graves 3:12:41
20 Mary Howser 3:21:29
21 Sarah Sandstrom 3:22:10
22 Amy Clark 3:22:23
23 Daniela Castro 3:22:28
24 Alejandra Brito 3:23:07
25 Kate Lewis 3:23:48
26 Karen Kennedy 3:24:45
29 Puatea Ellis 3:36:36
30 Louanne Harris 3:41:27
31 Meg Bosi 3:43:11
33 Hailey Driver 4:10:11


See who we picked to win this race.

Photos and recap from last year’s race.