The people have spoken. The wait is over. With votes cast and results tallied, we’re proud to announce the eighth-annual winners of standup paddling’s most prestigious awards. The 2018 SUP Awards stirred enthusiasm and passion from all ends of the sport and every corner of the globe. While all the nominees deserve praise and accolades, after thousands of fans and readers made their voices heard, only those chosen by you get the honor of being called SUP Awards winners.
Drumroll please …
For Male Paddler of the Year, a trio of Maui paddlers swept the top three spots. Connor Baxter claimed the top spot for a historic sixth time. Meanwhile, elite waterman Kai Lenny took the runner-up spot after a year of SUP foiling firsts, with SUP surfing standout Zane Schweitzer in third.
For Female Paddler of the Year, readers went closer to the U.S. mainland, voting 19-year-old SUP racing standout Shae Foudy into the top spot for the first time in her young career. Candice Appleby capped an impressive comeback year by winning a SUP Award for the No. 2 Female Paddler of the Year and Fiona Wylde took the No. 3 spot.
A fresh crop of new paddlers dominated the past year, joining the professional SUP ranks and winning big races. However, perhaps none made a bigger impact than Japan’s Yuka Sato, whose infectious positivity and top finishes, including a win at 10 Towers, earned her a first-ever SUP Awards selection for Female Breakthrough Performer. On the men’s side, Marcus Hansen’s surprise emergence as a top SUP racing contender earned him the nod for Male Breakthrough Performer.
In Male Performance of the Year, Michael Booth took the honors for his first-ever win at the Carolina Cup earlier this year. Meanwhile, Annabel Anderson won the Female Performance of the Year category for her dominant performance at #PPG2017.
Casper Steinfath, the Danish Viking, took home Expedition of the Year for his Viking Crossing.
Will Schmidt won for Movie of the Year for his film, Through My Eyes, which chronicled his 2014 SUP expedition from Canada to Mexico. And last but not least, the Top Philanthropic SUP Award went to Paddle IMUA, a Maui race that raises funds for children with special needs.