Full Round of the London SUP Open, the 1st Stop Of The APP Tour!

Last weekend saw soaring temperatures and fantastic racing in London’s docklands. The London SUP Open was the 1st stop of the APP World tour, held in the Royal Victoria Dock. The event  attracted the worlds top riders and amateurs from all around the UK. The event which had a multitude of events including an iconic 4km race down the Thames for the Pro riders, 200 M sprint race, and PRO AM 11 KM distance race, plus the N1sco race both held in the Royal Victoria Docks,  London.

The Royal Victoria Docks proved to be a fantastic venue with plenty of viewing vistas to watch the action, the racers did not dissapoint and put on a show that repeatedly brought the crowds in East London to their feet.

The Royal Docks were designed to accommodate large steam ships in the 1800’s and well into the 1900’s. This dynamic location is a part of London which has a steep and proud maritime history, creating the perfect atmosphere for the festival. Today, this aquatic arena offers a wonderful venue for housing watersports events like the London SUP Open. Flanked on one side by multiple hotels, including The Good Hotel, the home base of the APP World Tour and the other by an awesome walkway and restaurants.

TotalSUP the official media partner was imbedded in the festival, with Mr TotalSUP Mathieu Astier present throughout the weekend giving fantastic media coverage and commentating.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

4 KM Historic Thames Race

The first race on the cards was the 4 KM distance race along the historic Thames River ending at the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, held on saturday the 7th this race was the perfect festival opener. SUP athletes had never before tested these waters on their crafts or experienced the challenge of riding on the Thames.

It was an extraordinary sight to see the two Quiksilver buoys bobbing in the water outside of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. A finish line that marked the history of the British people and celebrated the birth of the sport of professional stand up paddling.

At the start gun, the men leapt to their feet and took off.  Connor Baxter took an early lead as his quicker cadence launched him out in front with Michael Booth, Travis Grant, Kai Lenny and Mo Freitas right behind.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

The 21-man field split off quickly into two draft trains with Booth overtaking Connor and driving himself to the front. That is where Booth remained for the duration of the race as the men jostled for position on the Thames as they navigated the river bends and tried to maximized their glides from the inevitable boat wake.

Approximately 1 KM into the race, with the Battersea Power Station towering over the river, Aussie Booth extended his lead, he threw the hammer down, started paddling at a solid speed, soon the rest of the pack dropped off and Boothy then powered home in 1st place, showing what great form he is in this season.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

Meanwhile Travis and Connor arrived in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. NSP rider Travis coming in 2nd place again showing what great form he is in after last weeks Summer Cup in La Baule, France. 3rd placed Connor showed some agressive moves throughout the raceand held onto to Connor Baxters draft. Bruno Hasulyo, came in 4th, Daniel Hasulyo in 5th and Kai Lenny arriving in 6th on his borrowed Infinity Board.

The womens race was more franentic, we saw three way battle between Manca Notar’s fast cadence, Shae Foudy’s tactical awareness and Yuka Sato’s formidable strength. Japanese Racer Yuka has been on fire this season on the Euro Tour, taking multiple wins and making a name for herself at every race.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

Manca’s power challenged Yuka for a kilometer or more along the Thames with young Shae Foudy holding on a for board length just behind the two. Once again at Battersea Power Station, Manca’s rythmn began to slow and Yuka managed to pull out in front. Shae, waiting for her chance to pounce, took the opportunity to overtake Manca and then started to bear down on Starboard’s Yuka Sato. We then saw Yuka and Shae paddle stroke for stroke until the finish line just outside the Houses of Parliament. Yuka crossed the finish just ahead of Shae, whilst Slovenian Manca finished in 3rd.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

200 M Docklands Sprint Race

Straight after that on Saturday afternoon we saw the 200 metre Sprint races at the Royal Victoria Docks in East London.

The afternoon SUP Sprints featured several rounds of competition for World Tour athletes. Each heat held six racers on the Royal Docks waters and featured a 3-buoy turn (200 meter) course in front of the crowds. The Top 3 racers from each heat advanced to the next round and a repecharge heat was held for “Last Chance” opportunities to make it to the next round.

Photo Credit: SUPJunkie

The competition was fast and furious. For the Men’s Pro Tour, the first heat set the tone for the day as Kai Lenny blasted off the start in a fantastic fury to hit the first buoy out in front. Throughout the comps, Kai asserted his skill and dominance to moved quickly through to the finals. Connor, Casper, Mo and others all had to charge up their game in order to keep up with the blistering pace.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

As the men advanced through the heats, Mo Freitas looked strong and focused, but heartbreakingly went down at the buoy in his semi-final in a battle with Michael Booth and had to fight his way back in the repecharge heat. In that round, the furious powers of Slater Trout and Frenchman Arthur Arutkin drove the three men to an incredible photo finish where Slater and Artur were awarded the win and advanced to the finals.

Photo Credit: Pierre Lesueur

In that final heat, on the line were Kai, Connor, Casper, Artur and Slater. Again, Kai’s furious speed gave him a nose length in front of Casper as he rounded the first buoy. Casper held on half a board length behind and kept maximum pressure on Kai throughout the course. The crowd all along the Royal Docks could be heard yelling for both Kai and Casper. Connor, in the mix as always stayed focused a board length back.

Around the final turn and in the race to the arch, Casper looked like he was ready to release his full Viking power, but the course just proved too short and Kai’s quick strength brought him home just ahead of the powerful Dane. Connor’s third place win was only a breath behind the two out front.

Photo Credit: SUPJunkie

The Women’s Sprint races was equally exciting, with powerhouses Candice Appleby, Annie Reickert, Manca Notar and Yuka Sato in the mix. Looking fiery from the start, was Candice Appleby. Even with her broken toe, Candice led the charge in her early heats forcing the young guns to fire up and quicken up their pace.

Yuka, Manca, Annie Reickert and Marie Buchanan held strong through the advancing rounds with Infinity’s Shae Foudy tearing through every heat out in front.

In the final round, Shae’s explosive energy dominated the course as she powered to the front and held her ground through the finish, making it a double win for Team Infinity for both the Men and Women in the Sprints. Shae’s win was followed up by excellent performances by Manca Notar in second and Annie Reickert in third.

11 KM Distance Race

Sunday was the long distance event. Straight off the line in the Men’s competition saw furious motion between the two red nosed Starboard All-Stars as Aussie Michael Booth and Maui legend Connor Baxter raced for the front of the pack. Establishing a couple of board length’s lead, Booth and Baxter set the pace around the distance course.

The main pack held over 15 racers and was the seat of much action. Moves within the pack held significant impact on overallresults. Travis Grant, Mo Freitas, Casper Steinfath, the Hasulyo brothers and the ever present Arthur Arutkin exchanged positions throughout the race, some taking time at the front to pull, other times joining the draft train on the long distance challenge.

But, as the heat of the day wore on and the men counted laps, the dynamic shifted.  Kai Lenny, who was such a powerhouse in the Sprints the evening before, could be seen lagging towards the back. Casper made valiant efforts to move forward within the pack throughout only to be blocked from gaining too much ground by Grant and Hasulyo.

On the final lap, Booth pulled away from Connor and established a 3-4 board length lead ahead to power into the finish by himself for the win. Connor’s energy flagged in the heat and the pack caught him in those final furious meters of the race. Hot, tired, driving towards the finish, the crowd rose to its feet to see the finale of these great racers putting in one last herculean effort for the weekend.

Arthur Arutkin, conserving his energy chose the right moment and charged ahead, this final sprint gained him a 2nd place finish behind Booth. Next came Travis Grant, always a smart tactician making his move to pull out of the pack so to finish 3rd.  He was followed by Casper Steinfath in 4th, Daniel Hasulyo in 5th followed by his brother Bruno in 6th place.

In the Women’s 11 KM Distance Course, two front packs determined the line up.  From the start, Yuka Sato surged out in front, pulling the lead train and grinding out the 11KM in the heat, pulling both Shae Foudy and Manca Notar.

Behind the front trio, came Australia’s Chloe Walkerdene and Annie Reickert with USA’s powerhouse Candice Appleby. The two groups worked together around the rectangular course, staying in rhymn until the final sprint.

In those final metres, after having pulled her for the entire race, Yuka Sato was overpowered by young gun Shae Foudy who leap forgged past her to claim the win. Yuka took a very solid 2nd place finish and Italy’s ever-present Manca Notar completed the Top 3 for Women’s Distance.

Candice and Annie came down to those final yards together where Annie drove into the finish just in front of Appleby to take 4th and 5th place respectively. Chloe Walkerdene, who is looking strong and progressing rapidly on these World Tour events finished 6th.

Scores based upon placement in the Sprints + Distance Course determined the Overall Winners for this first stop on the APP World Tour in London. To date, our leaders are Michael Booth & Shae Foudy!  Here’s the lineup.

Men’s Overall Top 3:
1st – Michael Booth (Starboard)
2nd – Aruthur Arutkin (Fanatic)
3rd – Casper Steinfath (Naish)

Women’s Overall Top 3:
1st – Shae Foudy (Infinity)
2nd – Yuka Sato (Starboard)
3rd – Manca Notar (Naish)

N1sco Race

Finally and not to be forgotten was the Naish One Design Race Championship, where all paddlers race identical boards. This was a full day’s racing on Saturday. First a 2 km technical race, then two rounds of sprints which then took you either straight into the final or into a wildcard round.

This meant you could be sprinting either 3 or 4 rounds. Finally, a 5 km distance race. The format is open to all abilities of SUP racer and the juniors joined in with the adult racing too. 49 men and 33 women completed the racing with Zoltan Erdelyi taking first place in the mens competition and joint first in the ladies went to Andrea Richardson and Anna Little.

This was an epic weekend of SUP magic from the pro riders to the amateurs and we at TotalSUP are looking forward to the next event Stop 2 in New York City / Long Island from the 15th to the  23rd September. Follow this link for more information!

About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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