2017 Carolina Cup Photos and Analysis

With the highly-anticipated 2017 Carolina Cup now in the rearview mirror, paddlers are taking a deep breath after a weekend filled with revelry and intense competition.

Last year, we were talking about the dominance of victors Titouan Puyo and Annabel Anderson. Fast forward to 2017 and it’s deja vu, but the storylines from this weekend go much deeper. The Carolina Cup is historically known as one of the most grueling races of the year. It would be safe to say that the 2017 edition lived up to that reputation.

As we begin to digest what just went down, let’s take a deeper look into five key storylines from the race.

“Five-Time” Annabel Anderson

The Kiwi continued her absolute dominance in Wrightsville Beach by notching her fifth straight victory at this race. It’s been a staggering run and one that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Once again, she was the class of the women’s field and was simply overpowering. Maui’s Fiona Wylde put up a valiant effort to stay with Anderson for over half the race, but she was not able to hold on through the second half. Anderson is well-regarded as one of the fittest athletes in the sport and for the fifth time in as many years, she proved why.

This Race Physically and Mentally Broke Paddlers

There’s no two ways about it, the Carolina Cup is a grind. While the race began with a nice 3.5 mile downwind run to Mason’s Inlet, the race of attrition began when paddlers turned back into the wind. With wind speeds reaching 15-20 knots and temperatures touching 80 degrees, this long upwind section of flatwater took its toll on even the fittest paddlers.

This included pre-race favorite Michael Booth, who hit a mental and physical wall about three-quarters of the way through the race. After spending the majority of the race in the lead pack, the Australian plummeted through the field after a failed attempt to break away from the leaders. He would wind up in 18th. Mo Freitas and Arthur Arutkin also suffered the same fate, falling to 13th and 14th at the finish, despite spending much of the race up front.

For some, they hit the barrier after the finish line. This included local paddler April Zilg, who nearly collapsed after crossing the finish line in fourth during the Women’s Elite Race. Heat exhaustion appeared to be the culprit and after receiving some medical attention and shade, the local would be all smiles after her solid result.

Titouan and Travis Go 1-2 For Second Straight Year

Titouan Puyo and Travis Grant proved last year was no fluke, mirroring their results from 2016 and continuing to dominate the Men’s Graveyard Elite Race. Despite more challenging conditions this year, these two paddlers rose to the occasion when it mattered. While Grant is already well-known as one of the top distance paddlers of his generation, Puyo solidified his growing reputation by going back-to-back in one of the biggest events in our sport.

Rise of the Tahitians

For a long time, we have wondered when the Tahitians will break out as top contenders in the SUP racing world. Already giants in outrigger racing, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before these waterman began making moves in standup paddling. Time will tell, but we may look back upon the 2017 Carolina Cup as the time when that light bulb finally went on.

Legendary paddler Georges Cronsteadt proved his mettle by going from a mid-20s starting position to the lead during the later stages of the race. He would hold on for third and be closely followed by his fellow countryman, Steeve Teihotaata, who finished fourth. Rounding out the Tahitians’ impressive efforts was Rete Ebb, who came home ninth after spending the majority of the race up front. Look for big things from these paddlers this season.


Full results and recap from the 2017 Carolina Cup.