Epic Photos from the Japan Cup as SUP Continues to Grow in the Land of the Rising Sun
Results are in from the Japan Cup, which was held in the surfing town of Chigasaki on the weekend to continue a big run of events in the land of the rising sun this month.
Fiona Wylde dominated the women’s event, while Mo Freitas, Toby Cracknell, James Casey and Daniel Hasulyo all got a spot on the men’s podiums, with the weekend split between an 18km distance race and the always-entertaining Jamie Mitchell Survivor Race.
World #7 Mo Freitas was victorious in the long and draining distance event, though he was pushed all the way to the line by Aussie boy James Casey. Casey’s recent string of top results, which includes a massive top 10 effort at this year’s Molokai, highlight just how deep Australia’s talent pool runs. The JP team rider kept pace with the Focus board of Mo almost all the way to the line, eventually crossing in 1:47:47 compared with Mo’s 1:47:17.
Fresh off his podium at the 11 Cities just two weeks ago, the Hungarian-born New Zealander Daniel Hasulyo finished a very close third in 1:48:15 for Team Starboard, with local hero and surprise packet of the Gorge Paddle Challenge, Kenny Kaneko, claiming fourth for Team SIC in 1:48:15. The elder Hasulyo brother, Bruno, rounded out the top five ahead of Aussie Tim Cyprien and locals Tomoyasu Murabayashi and Ryohei Yoshida.
In the women’s it was Starboard’s Fiona Wylde all the way, with the current world #4 defeating so many of the guys that she even cracked the overall top 10.
The distance race took the most effort, however the Jamie Mitchell Survivor Race, one of the best race formats in the sport, definitely produced the most excitement. The surf town of Chigasaki looked more like Salt Creek on the weekend, as a typhoon in the region whipped up some macking waves that produced some rollercoaster racing (and great photos).
While Mo Freitas was victorious in the distance race, the Oahu boy had to take a back seat as the Aussie boys cleaned up in the Survivor. After a few rounds of carnage-fueled action, Naish boy Toby Cracknell out-sprinted James up the beach to the line in the final, while fellow Aussie Tim Cyprien also went top five. Daniel Hasulyo finished third once again, while Mo was fourth.
Ryan Helm was looking good all day but just missed out on a spot in the final after a solid set cleaned up the field in the semis. Ryan was in Japan with fellow Riviera boys Brandon and Taylor Rambo.
In the women’s Survivor Race it was once again Fiona all the way, with the Starboard starlet making it a clean sweep of the weekend. Aussie Chloe Walkerdene was runner-up.
There were only about a dozen tops internationals competing, however it looks like the event was a fairly solid success, with over 150 paddlers hitting the water across the weekend. Though even more impressively, the whole show will be broadcast on J Sports (a big cable TV channel in Japan) on the 4th of October.
The Japan Cup continues the country’s rise in the world of stand up paddling, and comes just two weeks after another international event, the Hayama Pro that was won by Candice Appleby and Kai Lenny.
I believe Japan will be one of the SUP world’s biggest markets within another five years, in terms of both events and industry sales. The big brands are all rushing in like it’s some kind of wild west land grab, while events such as the Japan Cup, with its mainstream TV coverage, and the Hayama Pro earlier this month, show there’s a bright future for SUP in the land of the rising sun.
Congratulations to the Japan Cup crew for pulling off what looked to be a really fun event, and hopefully we’ll see even more of the top crew over in Japan next year. Could September become “Japan Month”?