After announcing the 9 major stops of The Paddle League World Tour in January, which includes big international events such as the forthcoming Air France Paddle Festival in Tahiti, the Carolina Cup and Gorge Paddle Challenge. The Paddle League has released a schedule of the confirmed regionals, bringing together 41 regional events across 24 nations, with the goal of providing a stable foundation for the future of worldwide stand up paddling. The addition of these 41 “Regionals” completes the Season 2018 race schedule, bringing the total number of independent events in The League to 50.
The regionals will run all year long from the GlaGla Race in January to the King of the Cut in December, while the major World Tour stops focus on the six-month international season from April til October. The highlight of the Northern summer is expected, as always, to be the 10-week EuroTour from May to July. The Paddle League will be crowning its world champions in October (or earlier if the title race is decided before the final stops), and the 5 races in the “post-season” will count towards Season 2019.
Photo Credit: Bay Bridge Paddle
The Paddle League Regionals include a huge variety of locations – from France to Finland, Key West to Kiev and Brazil to the Basque Country, and in plenty of unique formats: downwinders, beach races, marathons, river races and plenty of flat water, entry-level events for paddlers of all levels. There are familiar names included in the regionals such as Maui2Molokai in Hawaii, the Key West Classic in Florida and San Francisco’s Battle of the Bay, as well as new frontiers like river racing in the Czech Republic (Krumlovsky Vodacky), the Kiev Open in Ukraine and other new stops from Singapore to South Africa and Taiwan to Thailand.
The Paddle League has also partnered with the established authority in European paddling, the EuroTour, to help further unify the sport. Each stop of the EuroTour will award athletes with world ranking points as the sport’s two biggest tours join forces in a new era for SUP. Charity events such as Paddle Imua, Jersey’s Round Island Challenge and the massive SEA Paddle NYC are all part of The Paddle League platform as well, with the aim of supporting the events that support the sport.
Photo Credit: Lech Dolecki
The Paddle League has also made life easier for traveling athletes by attaching a regional stop to each of the majors, for example with the Gorge Paddle Challenge in Oregon being complimented by the Vancouver SUP Challenge over the border in Canada, and the Waterman Tour Tahiti event falling one week after the Air France Paddle Festival.
Tour Commissioner and ageless athlete Kelly Margetts announced “The core aim of The Paddle League is to help unify the sport and reconnect with those awesome grassroots events that really give stand up paddling its base. We want to support and help elevate these classic regional races. We’re pumped that so many great events want to be involved in this project.”
Photo Credit: eurotour sup
Rankings mastermind Christopher Parker told us The Paddle League is simply a logical next step for the original system. “The world rankings were created half a decade ago not just because I love analysing the stats, but because we all wanted to help bring some structure to stand up paddling. I look at the world rankings as the common thread that connects all the existing pieces of the puzzle — all the great independent events that are the true pillars of our sport. The Paddle League is the next step, so I’m pretty stoked the original system has evolved to where it is today: the basis of a legit world tour. Points have been fairly evenly spread between three key regions: the U.S, Europe and the Rest of the World, with the goal of making The Paddle League World Rankings as open and accessible to all paddlers no matter what their level or location”.
Photo Credit: villefranche_paddle_race
Following the pre-season campaign that featured regional stops in Australia, New Zealand, France and California, The Paddle League World Tour begins with this weekend’s (7th April) major Air France Paddle Festival in Tahiti, which will be streamed on The Paddle League via Facebook Live from 11am local time, along with Mathieu from TotalSUP as part of the team!