US Open of Stand Up Paddling
Huntington Beach, California
28 September - 5 October 2015
Candice Appleby takes the women's division
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 October, 2015 - After a stormy night at Huntington Beach, the day dawned wet and windy yesterday for the final day of action of the 2015 US Open of Stand Up Paddling. However, within a few hours, the waves started to pump, the skies cleared and the wind dropped to set the stage for what was one of the year's most exciting days of racing.
The trademark 500m sprint course under the Pier and through the surf provided thrills, spills and some of the most exciting finishes imaginable as Huntington Beach transformed into a magical amphitheater for the sport of Stand Up Paddling.
Coming off a dominant performance in the long distance race amidst a stacked field of the World's very best athletes, Kai Lenny (Naish) looked quietly confidant coming into this final day of action here at the US Open of Stand Up Paddling. There is no doubt that his skill set is perfectly suited to this form of sprint racing in and out of the surf, as he marched his way through the heats en route to the final.
With every heat being worthy of a final, it was no easy feat, and in the quarters, it was a run to the finish for Kai to secure qualification with the depth of talent present. However, he prevailed, accelerated to gain advantage at the right times and was able to pick out the right runners to maintain his lead all the way to the finish line.
With this spectacular victory on Day 2 of the US Open World Series, Kai takes the overall US Open win, and moves into #1 on the World Rankings coming into Turtle Bay in just 2 weeks time.
It will be a dramatic final weekend of racing for the year, as the World's best will once again step up to do battle in Stand Up Paddling's utlimate arena at Turtle Bay Resort, on Oahu's Fabled North Shore. As somewhat of a second home for Kai Lenny, he will be looking to consolidate on his win here at the US Open, in the hopes of finishing on a high in 2015 with the Racing World Title.
Mo Freitas © Waterman League
Mo Freitas (Focus SUP) continues to assert himself as a major double threat in the World of Stand Up Paddling, finishing in 6th overall on the Stand Up World Tour in 2015 as one of SUP Surfing's leading lights and now with an impressive performance on both days of Racing here at the US Open of Stand Up Paddling.
Like Kai, Mo excels in any kind of surf racing, that combines traditional paddling prowess with surfriding skills, and it showed today, as Mo seamingly effortlessly made his way through the rounds to reach the Final.
Battling with Kai Lenny (Naish) for the entire race, it was only in the final feet that Kai was able to get the edge and a clean run to the finish with his wave pushing him a little further, and Mo's backing off to give Kai the advantage. In fact, it was so tight, that this small difference allowed the phenomenal sprinter from Denmark, Casper Steinfath the opportunity to sqeak by for 2nd, with Mo having to settle for 3rd by a whisker.
While Mo was disappointed not to take 2nd in the sprints, he was still able to secure 2nd place overall for the event and garner vital ranking points as we head into the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay in just under 2 weeks. He is now sitting in 5th place with solid results in Japan and here at the US Open now under his belt, as he will add his 3rd and final result at home for the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay in just under 2 weeks.
Casper Steinfath (Naish) has now well and truly established himself as one of the World's very best sprinters, whether it be flat water or surf, his fast paced sprint paddling, stamina and skill make him dangerous on any playing field.
Women's Podium © Waterman's League
Consistently performing through the rounds, he was able to make it all the way to the Final, and then in a dramatic run to the finish, just get the edge over Mo Fretias (Focus SUP) to finish in 2nd place behind team mate Kai Lenny (Naish).
This 2nd place in the sprint racing puts Casper into 3rd overall for the event (with a 4th place in Saturday's Long Distance), propelling him up into to 4th place overall in the World Rankings coming into the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay.
Candice Appleby (Infinity) put on another stellar performance on Day 2 of the US Open's World Series stop, to take the Sprint Racing win, and as a result, the overall US Open event victory after what was another dominant showing for the versatile talent from San Clemente.
With 3 bullet wins in Spain, Japan and now here in the USA, this means that Candice Appleby is now unbeatable coming into the Final event of the year at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's fabled North Shore and therefore has already secured the 2015 World Title in advance of the final event.
However, having never competed in the World Series Finals before, Candice is excited about this event more than any, as the pressure is now off and she can enjoy the most exciting close imaginable to the 2015 season.
Fiona Wylde (Starboard) continues to assert herself as a major threat on both the Surfing World Tour and Racing World Series, with another strong performance at the US Open of Stand Up Paddling.
After a great performance in the long distance on the first day, finishing in 2nd place, FIona then went on to finish in 2nd place in the Sprint Racing, battling through the elimination with the new World Champion Candice Appleby (Infinity).
Fiona now moves up to 2nd place overall in the World Series Rankings coming into Turtle Bay, tied with the Slovenian talent Manca Notar (Naish). She walks away in the knowledge that she has what it takes to take down the best of the best, and is one of the most comfortable in waves of consequence, a vital skill for the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay.
Shakira Westdorp (Starboard) has had an incredible year, finishing in 2nd place overall on the Stand Up World Tour after another strong result here at the US Open of Stand Up Paddlesurfing, and then backing it up with an equally impressive performance in the Racing to secure 3rd place overall for this prestigious World Series stop on US soil.
Shakira posted a 3rd place finish in the Long distance, and was then able to back it up with a 5th place finish in the dramatic World Series Sprints, capping an incredible US Open for the Australian talent as she makes her presence felt on the global Stand Up Paddle scene.
There is no doubt that Shakira is well equipped for the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay given her surfing skills and racing prowess, and has a good relationship with the location, having finished in 2nd place at the Turtle Bay Pro World Tour surfing event earlier this year.
In line with Na Kama Kai's mission in Hawaii, the Waterman League celebrates youth competition at the 2015 US Open with both Surfing and Racing competition completed for both U14 and U16 boys and girls.
With a phenomenal display of Surfing on Saturday, it was Jeffrey Spencer (Quatro) and Annie Reickert (Naish) who came out victorious, with an impressive display of performance surfing. At just 14 years old, Jeffrey has an exciting future ahead of him as he competed in both U16 and U14 divisions, winning both in epic fashion.
Meanwhile Annie, who is also just 14 years old had already proved herself in the women's main event, and went onto dominate the youth division to take the well deserved win. A big congratulations should go out to all the youth who took part in the Na Kama Kai Surfing event, as they clearly demonstrated how exciting the future of Stand Up Paddling is with talent such as this coming up through the ranks.
The performance level of these young Champions of the future was mind blowing this weekend at the US Open of Stand Up Paddling, as U16 girls and boys battled it out in the dramatic conditions on tap at Huntington Beach.
In a series of 3 exciting heats, it was once again Jeffrey Spencer (Quatro) and Annie Reickert (Naish) who dominated, earning themselves a stay at Turtle Bay for the World Series Finals in just under 2 weeks. A phenomenal achievement by these young talents who are clearly impressive double threats, not to mention the whole field of young aspiring talent such as Dave Allen de Armas, Patrick Cleveland, Finn Spencer (Naish), Marvin Freitas (Focus SUP), Aidan Smith and Lexi Alston (a strong finisher in the Pro Women's Racing).