Facing rough conditions, a strong headwind and cooler temperatures, Australian Travis Grant captured the men’s stand up paddleboard (SUP) championship in the 13.2-mile “Graveyard” race at the fifth annual Carolina Cup in Wrightsville Beach on Saturday.
In the women’s elite division, the top-ranked paddler in the world, Annabel Anderson of New Zealand, captured her third consecutive victory.
“The international field here was huge,” said Christopher Parker, SUP expert and race analyst with SUPRacer.com. “We never see anything like this. This was the second-most competitive race of all time and the most all-round challenging. The level of competition, the conditions–the surf at the start and finish, the flatwater, headwind, downwind, sidewind–it was brutal.”
Organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association, The Carolina Cup “attracted top paddlers from approximately 20 nations and 40 states,” according to co-race director John Beausang. “An estimated 950 people registered for this year’s races and clinics,” all based at Blockade Runner Beach Resort April 22-26.
“The Carolina Cup has evolved into a sophisticated, world-class sporting event,” said Nicolas Montoya, General Manager of Blockade Runner Beach Resort. “Attendance for The Carolina Cup has been excellent. Professionals arrived a week before the races offering clinics and one-on-one instruction for people in the Carolinas and Virginia interested in the sport of SUP.”