April 12, 2017
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Countdown to Carolina: 10 Days ’til the First Major Race of the Season

Carolina Cup

The West Marine Carolina Cup is the first major race of the season (photo: McQuiston/SUP Racer)

The annual pilgrimage to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina is about to begin again with the first major race of the season just 10 days away.

Featuring a mammoth 7-star rating and virtually all of the world’s top paddlers, the 2017 West Marine Carolina Cup is going to be next level. Connor, Boothy, Mo, Travis, Titou, Danny, Georges, the list goes on and on…

The men’s Elite Graveyard Race is going to be insanely competitive and virtually impossible to predict this year. And as for the women: can anyone stop Annabel saluting for a fifth straight year?

We’ll have a big race preview next week, but in the meantime here’s what’s happening over the next 10 days as we countdown to the big dance.


SUP Racer will become Carolina Central with a post every day over the next 10 days. We’ll be looking ahead to this year’s race with previews, insights and predictions, while also looking back at some classic moments from past editions.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for even more coverage.


You know those “Preview & Predictions” posts I always do on the eve of a race–where I try and guess predict the top 10 finishers in perfect order? Well this year we’re bringing that concept to Facebook Live.

On the eve of the race, Friday April 21st, we’ll have a live preview show to run you right through the form guide + give you some insights from a couple of special guest athletes. It should be a fun way to bring everyone from around the world closer to the event.


In partnership with the Carolina Cup organisers and the good folks at Quickblade Paddles, SUP Racer will bring you all the race day action via Facebook Live on Saturday April 22nd.

We’ll have more info on our live stream in a few days, but I’m pretty damn excited to get over to Carolina next week and help tell the story of this classic race.

There are so many races within a race at Carolina, so my goal this year is to not just point a camera at the action but really dig deep and bring you insights on all the athletes as well as “telling the story” of the race itself.

I’m going to say right up front that you won’t be massively blown away by the production quality. It’ll be good quality but don’t expect ESPN quality. However, what you will be blown away by is just how competitive and popular this grueling event really is, and just how fascinating some of the behind-the-scenes stories really are.

So it’s my job mission to tell the story of this iconic race. I’m going to try and give you a front row seat and bring you right up close to the action through not just video but also words and emotion to really capture the spirit of this almighty contest.

The elite race (and our live stream) starts at 10am Eastern Time on Saturday the 22nd. I won’t bother converting that to 17 different timezones, simply just Google “What’s the time in Wrightsville Beach right now?” to get your bearings.

Carolina Cup

For the fourth year in a row, Connor, Georges and Trav will all be battling for the lead (photo: McQuiston/SUP Racer)


Carolina is going to have a massive impact on the World Rankings as well as Battle of the Brands and Battle of the Nations.

The event is in exclusive company this year, gaining one of the first ever “7-star” ratings as part of our Season 2017 roadmap. The only other races on this level are the Gorge Paddle Challenge and Pacific Paddle Games.

This is the first time we’ve ever awarded 7 stars to any events, and it underscores just how much “The Majors” dominate the international race season.

This 7-star rating guarantees Carolina a Race Index score of at least 70%, which means the winner gets at least 70.00 World Ranking points and the whole event will give the Top 100 Leaderboard a massive shakeup.

Look for some of the dark horses to jump up into the top 10/top 20 on the rankings, while expect some of the big names to take a big hit if they can’t replicate their form from 12 months ago.

(only the men’s race is 7-star: the women’s race remains a 6-star event because a few more of the top ladies are missing)


While we focus a lot on the elite side of the sport at SUP Racer, one of the best parts about the Carolina Cup is just how many open race paddlers are drawn to Wrightsville Beach.

Whether it’s to rub shoulders with the pros, battle against their mates or just enjoy a few drinks at City Limits Bar after the race, the Carolina Cup attracts hundreds of regular paddlers from across the States and around the world.

It really is one of those mass participation events that reminds you why this sport is so great, so this year we’ll give a bigger focus to the amateur and junior events with not only results but also stories and interviews with those who have made the pilgrimage to one of paddleboarding’s true meccas.


While race day is April 22nd, the West Marine Carolina Cup is actually a five-day festival that runs from the 19th to the 23rd, with dozens of clinics, demos, film premieres, athlete autograph sessions, pre-parties, after-parties and general festivities to soak up and enjoy.

The Carolina Cup is much more than just a race: it’s a true paddleboarding festival that brings the whole community together. And we’ll bring you behind the scenes to showcase every side of the event.


Make sure you’re following @supracer on Instagram for plenty of behind the scenes insights via our daily Instagram Stories in the week leading up to the big showdown.

(And if you’re a true fan of the sport, follow @wheresbossman as well to see what really goes on behind the scenes…)


The official Carolina Cup site has all you need to know, and you should also give them a nod on Facebook and Instagram while you’re at it.

And keep an eye on local lad and Carolina Cup co-founder John Beausang over at Distressed Mullet for plenty of on-the-ground coverage.


Don’t be that paddler that rocks up on the morning of the race and tries to register at the last minute. Do it online and save yourself (and the organisers) the stress.

I’m looking squarely at you, elite paddlers.

The last day to register online is Wednesday April 19th, so if you’re coming to Carolina then go ahead and do it right now.

And if you can’t make it to Carolina don’t worry, because between supracer.com, Instagram and our Facebook Live streams, we’ll make you feel like you’re right there in Wrightsville Beach for the first major race of the season.


Carolina Cup SUP

Almost all of the world’s best will descend on Wrightsville Beach next week… (photo: McQuiston/SUP Racer)