The Japan Cup, Day 2: Annabel Anderson, Mo Freitas Claim the Survivor Race
Annabel Anderson and Mo Freitas have claimed lucrative wins on the second and final day of the Mynavi Japan Cup here in Chigasaki.
Under grey, drizzly skies, which stood in stark contrast to Saturday’s magnificent but draining hot sun, Mo surged to victory on the final, 10-man lap of the short, sharp survivor course, holding off the Aussie quartet of James Casey, Michael Booth, Toby Cracknell and Matt Nottage. Hometown hero Kenny Kaneko finished just outside the money in sixth.
While the first few laps were run at a slow pace, as the field was slowly whittled down to 10, the final lap was a belter, with Mo sprinting like a mad man off the line and never looking back, holding his lead all the way to the line as Jimmy and Boothy tried in vain to make a move around the Focus team rider.
Jimmy was runner-up for the second day in a row, which will give him a healthy chunk of this weekend’s $30,000 prize purse, while Nottage once again showed that he can match it with the best in all types of racing, edging out Toby, Kenny and four dark horse locals around the short, technical course that was inspired by Jamie Mitchell’s famous race format.
Ryohei Yoshida was the fastest of those dark horses, crossing in front of Kaito Miyakoshi, Tomoyasu “Tomo” Murabayashi and a very impressive 13-year-old future-name-to-watch Kei Komatsuyama (Kei backed up his effort an hour later by claiming the 3km open race; 12-year old Rai Taguchi was second in that race, and on an inflatable no less).
Annabel proved too strong for the small field of elite women, cruising to victory to match her win in yesterday’s long, hot distance race; Annabel walks away with half a million yen for her effort this weekend.
The big battle was for the minor placings, with Japan’s Yuka Sato showing great promise to power into second today, matching her runner-up result in the distance event.
Another name to watch could be the third-placed finisher Yuuka Horikoshi, who apparently rips in the surf and is clearly quite handy on a race board as well.
In a sign that women’s paddling in Japan is growing, reigning national champ Takayo Yokoyama was pushed down to fourth, while Aussie youngster Chloe Walkerdene had to settle for fifth.
One thing that became clear today is that the small changes Jamie Mitchell made to his famous race format in Huntington last month make a big difference. In that race (which Mo also won), paddlers accumulated points on every one of the five knockout laps (in addition to having to survive the elimination format), which kept things exciting from start to finish.
In contrast, today we saw the original survivor format, where the final lap is the only one that really matters for the top paddlers. Today’s final lap was awesome to watch, but the top guys were definitely taking it easy in the earlier rounds.
Anyway we’ll have the full results and plenty of pics coming up later. Our heroic drone pilot was once again scoring some awesome footage today, so look out for a great clip in a day or two.
MEN’S SURVIVOR TOP 10
1st: Mo Freitas (Hawaii/Focus)
2nd: James Casey (Australia/JP)
3rd: Michael Booth (Australia/Starboard)
4th: Toby Cracknell (Australia/Infinity)
5th: Matt Nottage (Australia/Starboard)
6th: Kenny Kaneko (Japan/SIC)
7th: Ryohei Yoshida (Japan/Sawarna)
8th: Kaito Miyakoshi (Japan/Riviera)
9th: Tomoyasu Murabayashi (Japan/Starboard)
10th: Kei Komatsuyama (Japan/Starboard)
1st: Annabel Anderson (New Zealand)
2nd: Yuka Sato (Japan)
3rd: Yuuka Horikoshi (Japan)
4th: Takayo Yokoyama (Japan)
5th: Chloe Walkerdene (Australia_
6th: Chieko Arakawa (Japan)
7th: Rei Furuya (Japan)
Despite the rollercoaster weather, it’s been a fantastic weekend here in Japan. Any paddler that hasn’t yet explored this part of the world should definitely add Japan to their bucket list.
However there was drama off the water overnight, with dozens of paddlers having a bad reaction to the race jerseys yesterday afternoon. We don’t know the full story yet so I don’t want to speculate, but it seems like whichever factory made the race jerseys left some sort of chemical residue, which only became apparent as the competitors sweated it out during the long distance race.
I feel really bad for not only the paddlers that got hurt (many suffered from extreme rashes, with Aussie Tim Cyprien too saw to even race today), but also the race organisers who could never have seen such a freak accident coming; apart from this fairly crazy incident, The Japan Cup has been organised at a really high level, with an awesome beach setup here in Chigasaki and some amazing camera work from the broadcast crew (this event is going to be shown on one of Japan’s main cable sports channels as a 90 minute special later this month). And as Annabel said, it was a race director’s worst nightmare but The Japan Cup crew rose to the occasion to try and fix it.
But back to the racing: After the elite showdown in the Survivor Race, the 3km open race hit the water, where 120 odd paddlers once again showed that Japan has a vibrant paddling community. All the locals really have made us foreigners feel very welcome in Japan, while the paddling community itself has shown the potential to mature into a big part of the international paddling scene; Japan could easily become a paddling mecca in the next few years.
On the overall weekend results, which count for little more than bragging rights and a bit of a nudge on the world rankings (the $30k prize money was split between the two races), Boothy narrowly takes the points, with James Casey the overall runner-up. Annabel made it a clean sweep of the women’s event, while Yuka Sato snagged a pair of seconds to earn the new title of Japan’s leading female paddler.
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Australia’s Michael Booth has claimed victory in the long, hot distance race on day 1 of The Japan Cup in Chigasaki, breaking away early from a strong field early and never looking back as he surged to a big win.
After a shocker of a start, where he missed the horn and then got clipped by the shorebreak, Boothy quickly moved through the field to the front, before making a move at just the 2km mark and going it alone for the rest of the 16km race.
Only his compatriot and fellow Starboard team rider Matt Nottage could go with him early, however Matty was left in no man’s land as Boothy surged away and the chase pack of Toby Cracknell, Mo Freitas, Tim Cyprien, James “Jimmy” Casey and Kenny Kaneko looked stuck in a battle for third place.
Kenny and Jimmy looked off the pace early, as Toby, Mo and an in-form Tim did most of the work. However as the race wore on and the sun took its toll, things changed as first Mo (who struggled with a back injury) and then Toby faded on the third and final lap, while Kenny and Jimmy found a second wind to eventually reel in Nottage with only a kilometre or two to go.
Matty’s brave performance deserved a higher spot on the podium, however he was eventually overtaken in the final couple of minutes to settle for fourth. But still, his performance today proved once again that this guy is a weapon even when it’s not a downwind race (Nottage has been prematurely written off as “just a downwind guy” in the past). There actually were a few bumps here and there today, but the indecisive wind was changing speed and direction so often that any benefit was negligible. It was basically just a long, hot grind.
Tim was one of the real surprise packets today; not only did he comfortably stick with the half a dozen top ranked international athletes en route to a top five finish, but at one point he was leading the chase group as they tried to close the gap on Boothy and Nottage.
Another strong finisher was Japan’s Tomoyasu “Tomo” Murabayashi, who powered home to finish just a few seconds behind sixth-place Toby and only a couple of minutes outside the money.
But despite the heroics from Nottage and the comeback from Jimmy and Kenny, it was definitely Boothy’s day, with the world number seven showing that he’ll very be hard to match in any of the long, grinding distance races (watch out at Carolina next year). For his effort today, Boothy takes home a solid chunk of the $30,000 prize purse (half a million yen, to be exact).
While the women’s field was much smaller than the men’s, it was headlined by world number one Annabel Anderson, who stormed to victory and at one point threatened to bust into the men’s top 10. Annabel went out strong on the first lap but dropped down a gear in the second half, commenting after the race that it was an absolute drainer and perhaps a lap longer than it needed to be.
Behind Annabel were two of Japan’s strongest ladies, Yuka Sato and Takayo Yokohama, the former of which showed particularly good promise as she fought hard in the trying conditions.
Earlier in the day we saw the 6km open race, which, despite the bumpy open ocean conditions, attracted 100 eager paddlers to highlight just how enthusiastic the Japanese paddling community is. This place could easily become a paddling powerhouse in another half a decade.
Another sign of good things to come for the sport in this country is the setup of The Japan Cup. It’s one of the best beach setups I’ve seen around the world, with plenty of big corporate sponsorship beyond just the regular industry brands. Though the coolest part: the weekend is going to be packaged up and broadcast on one of Japan’s leading cable sports channels as a 90 minute special.
It was definitely a long, hot day on the water today, and even though the advertised 18km elite course ended up being mercifully shortened by a couple of kms, it was still a very draining encounter. There will be plenty of paddlers heading to bed early tonight: tomorrow is the Jamie Mitchell inspired survivor-style race, which has the other half of the $30k up for grabs (if Boothy wins both races he’ll walk away with $13,000 aussie).
Want to see how it all goes down on Sunday?
Check back at around 10:45am local Japan time (“What’s the time in Japan?“) for the survivor race, which will be broadcast in full HD. We’ll have the live webcast up and running here on SUP Racer from around 10:30am, so check back then.
Men’s Distance Top 10
1st: Michael Booth (1:43:55)
2nd: James Casey (1:46:10)
3rd: Kenny Kaneko (1:46:17)
4th: Matt Nottage (1:46:31)
5th: Tim Cyprien (1:47:30)
6th: Toby Cracknell (1:49:29)
7th: Tomoyasu Murabayashi (1:49:37)
8th: Hoshio Kashiwagi (1:50:36)
9th: Mo Freitas (1:53:33)
10th: Kaito Miyakoshi (1:54:24)
Women’s Distance Race Podium
1st: Annabel Anderson (1:57:22)
2nd: Yuka Sato (2:02:00)
3rd: Takayo Yokohama (2:07:07)
Full results and times (Japanese)