September 28, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

First Look At The Battle Of The Paddle Heat Draws (For The Men At Least – Straight Up Final For The Women This Year)

Battle of the Paddle 2014

Seven days until the Battle of the Paddle. That’s one whole week, which means a good chunk of the notoriously-tardy elite paddlers probably haven’t even registered yet. But while there’s still plenty of time left to sign up, I say it’s never too early to start looking at the form guide.

So with that in mind, here’s your first look at the Battle of the Paddle Elite Race heat draws.

The Elite Race Qualifying Heats were introduced in 2011 to deal with the exploding number of competitors entering the BOP’s showcase race. By the third annual BOP in 2010, there were well over 100 paddlers out on the course for the weekend’s main event. It was getting a little crowded out there.

Battle of the Paddle salt creek countdown

Traditionally the BOP seeds the Top 50 men from the previous year, in order to spread the elite talent between the two qualifying heats. The women have also been seeded in the past, however this year, for the first time since the qualifiers were introduced, only the men will have to go through the qualifiers.

This makes a lot more sense: Now that women have their own separate final, it seems odd to cut the field in half when their numbers are so much smaller than the men to begin with. This year those numbers will probably be even lower than last year (when there were roughly 40 female entrants), given the intimidating conditions that Salt Creek poses (it’s not just intimidating for women – I bet the men’s Elite Race numbers will be down this year as well).

So there you go: No qualifying heats for the women. You can chill out all morning and watch the guys nervously battle through the surf for a spot in the final.

Battle of the Paddle Elite Race start

Battle of the Paddle 2012 – Qualifying Heat #1

But exactly which guys will be facing off against each other next Saturday morning? Based off the top 50 finishers from the 2013 Battle of the Paddle, here’s an early look at this year’s heat draws.

Obviously not all of these paddlers will return to Dana Point, plus there are some very big names missing from the list entirely (the Aussie super duo of Travis Grant and Jamie Mitchell were both absent last year, while Georges Cronsteadt was infamously injured in the qualifying heat and couldn’t race the final). But still, this gives you a rough guide of how each heat will look next Saturday morning.

Heat 1 starts at 10am with heat 2 in the water at 11am. Again, only the men will race in the qualifiers this year, with the women having a straight up final at 3pm. The men’s final follows at 4pm, featuring roughly the top 50% of finishers from each of the morning’s heats.

(And remember: We’ll have full play-by-play coverage all day with our Battle of the Paddle LIVE BLOG)

Last year just making the final, period, was quite an achievement, let alone finishing top 10 or top 20, so it’ll be interesting to see how it looks this year. I’m predicting the new venue of Salt Creek will scare off a few competitors and that we’ll see a slight dip in participation. However I’m also predicting we’ll see a higher concentration of elite talent…

So while there will be fewer paddlers vying for a spot in the final, the level of competition will be noticeably higher. That means it’ll be tougher than ever to qualify for the big one.

Battle Of The Paddle: Elite Race Heat Draws

Note: This is neither official nor final. There will be a lot more paddlers in each heat; this is simply the seeding list from last year’s top 50 finishers.


Kai Lenny
Danny Ching
Mo Freitas
Zane Schweitzer
Lincoln Dews
Ryan Helm
Jayden Jensen
Beau O’Brian
Noa Ginella
Leonard Nika
Riggs Napoleon
Arthur Arutkin
Brennan Rose
Chuck Glynn
Brian Murphy
Vinnicius Martins
Jay Wild
Trevor Tunnington
Gaetan Sene
Chuck Patterson
Dode Florent
Vincent Verhoeven
Sean Poynter
Byron Kurt
Eric Leuon

Battle of the Paddle buoy turn (0)

Danny Ching didn’t hold back during the 2012 qualifying heats. This would be a sign of things to come later in the day, when Danny would claim his second BOP California Elite Race title.


Connor Baxter
Casper Steinfath
Kelly Margetts
Jake Jensen
Fernando Stalla
Kody Kerbox
Slater Trout
Eric Terrien
Luiz Guida
Toby Cracknell
Chase Kosterlitz
Javier Jimenez
Josh Riccio
Paul Jackson
Peter Bartl
Arthur Daniel
Martin Letourneur
Joseph Cerdas
JP Tobin
Brendan Light
Tyson Poppler
Justin Cook
Brandon Rambo
Enzo Bennett
Jeremy Stephenson

Battle of the Paddle countdown