April 24, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Carolina Cup Fantasy SUP: Who’s Going To Win? Previews And Predictions (Plus Your Chance To Win)

Carolina Cup Fantasy SUP

We’re less than 48 hours away from one of the stand up paddling events of the year: The Carolina Cup at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina is happening this Saturday and looks set to be one of the single biggest races of 2014.

I don’t wanna get ahead of myself and hype things up unnecessarily, but, just quietly, the 2014 Carolina Cup is gonna be MASSIVE. In terms of both size and the level of competition, this race is going to be huge. The online rego cut off at midnight last night with 499 people already signed on. Organisers are expecting another 100 in-person regos tomorrow, meaning we could see over 600 paddlers line up on Saturday across the 3.5 mile rec race, the 6.5 mile open race and the big one: The 13 mile Elite Graveyard Race.

It’s been amazing to watch how big this event has grown since the inaugural race back in 2011. Since then it’s gone from regional race to “biggest on the East Coast” to now being not only one of the biggest SUP races in the entire USA, but one of the most significant events in the paddling world, period.

The Carolina Cup really seems like the place to be this year. Almost all the top names are here along with hundreds and hundreds of beginner, recreational and weekend warrior types. It’s also the first leg of the new SUP Champions Tour, just to give it some added significance.

We’re in for a cracker of a race on Saturday!

But before then, let’s have some fun by making a few bold predictions, because thanks to our Carolina Cup partner Starboard, you can win some cool schwag if you pick the winners…

First though let’s look at the race itself. The Carolina Cup race course is very unique in that almost all conditions are involved: Beach start, out through the waves, long stretch of ocean paddling (possibly downwind), then a long flat water grind through the inter-coastal waterway before going back out into the ocean to the finish.

It’s gonna be 13 miles of smart strategy, clever tactics and tough grinding.

Conditions on the day will play a part in the results: If there are lots of bumps, look for guys like Connor and Travis to finish strong. If there isn’t so much wind and it’s more of a flat race, Danny and Georges will be hard to match. And either way, look for some serious drafting strategy on the 8 mile inter-coastal leg.

Also: The weather around here is notoriously difficult to forecast, so we probably won’t know how it’s gonna look until we wake up Saturday morning.

Wrightsville Beach

This long, narrow island thing is Wrightsville Beach. We start on the right (in the ocean) go to the top of the photo and turn left, loop back down through the flat water of the inter-coastal and then back out into the ocean to finish. See the full course maps for more…

So who’s gonna step up and take the glory?

As I said: This field is stacked. We’ve got four of the top five guys from my “Top 13 of 2013” rankings: Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Danny Ching and Georges Cronsteadt (just missing Kai Lenny). I think those guys have a lock on the top four. I’m not entirely sure which one will win (all four have a serious chance) but I’d be surprised if anyone else was on the podium.

Danny is hungry. Connor is… Connor (though he has been on the road for a month straight now). Travis is eternally under-rated. Georges is still an unknown quantity for most people. It’s a toss up between those four.

Then after that you’ve got the next group of contenders who I think will fill the top 10:

Slater Trout has been training super hard and looks hungry. Ryan Helm has rollercoaster results: could go top 5 but could just as easily miss the top 10. Chucky Glynn is a machine. Mo Freitas is super quick (though usually paddles 12’6). Jamie Mitchell is a champion but has only been back in training for three weeks. Chase Kosterlitz has done this race more than most and will relish the flatwater grind.

And then there’s another bunch of serious talent. I’m sure two or three of these guys will ruin my predictions and sneak into the top 10, while most of them will fill the top 20:

Lincoln Dews, Toby Cracknell, Jay Wild, Matt Becker, Brennan Rose, Larry Cain, Bart de Zwart, Belar Diaz, Jim Terrell, Chance Fielder, Bill Kraft, Thomas Maximus, Chuck Patterson, Rob Rojas, half a dozen very solid local dark horses and probably four or five other guys I’m totally forgetting about

Look at that list. Suddenly even making the top 30 will be a mission, let alone the top 20 (and don’t even think about top 10…).

In short: This is gonna be a damn tough race that’s almost impossible to predict.

And that’s just the men. The women’s field is stacked as well: While Annabel will start hot favourite, girls like Jenny, Lina, Sonni, Fiona, Brandi and Morgan won’t be far behind, plus there will be another dozen who could easily crack the top 10.

So who’s gonna take the glory?

There’s no fun in sitting on the fence: Let’s get bold and try to predict exactly who’s gonna win. Check out my top 10 guys/top 5 girls below and see what you think.

I’ll also be asking all the top guys and girls for their predictions and will continually update this post over the next 24 hours.

Though it’s not only about the pros: The Carolina Cup is such a great event because it’s just as much about the first timers and weekend warriors as it is about the elites. So in that spirit, we’re throwing this whole predictions thing open to everybody.

Let’s call it…

Carolina Cup Fantasy SUP

Here’s how you play Fantasy SUP:

#1: Take a look at the predictions below to get an idea of who’s racing
#2: Scroll down, leave a comment and tell us your top 3 guys and top 3 girls
#3: If you pick the top three in the right order, you win some cool Starboard schwag

So put your reputation on the line and you can win some SUP gear.

Take a look below and then join in the fun by leaving a comment at the bottom…

Boss Man’s Bold Predictions

1st: Danny Ching
2nd: Connor Baxter
3rd: Travis Grant
4th: Georges Cronsteadt
5th: Chase Kosterlitz
6th: Jamie Mitchell
7th: Chuck Glynn
8th: Mo Freitas
9th: Slater Trout
10th: Ryan Helm

1st: Annabel Anderson
2nd: Jenny Kalmbach
3rd: Lina Augaitis
4th: Sonni Honscheid
5th: Fiona Wylde

Predictions From The Pros!

Dan Gavere
MEN… 1st: Connor Baxter, 2nd: Danny Ching, 3rd: Travis Grant, 4th: Georges Cronsteadt, 5th: Slater Trout, 6th: Jamie Mitchell, 7th: Chase Kosterlitz, 8th: Ryan Helm, 9th: Chuck Glynn, 10th: Matt Becker, 11th: Larry Cain
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson, 2nd: Jenny Kalmbach, 3rd: Lina Augaitis, 4th: Fiona Wylde, 5th: Brandi Baksic, 6th: Sonni Honscheid

Jenny Kalmbach
“It’s really hard and I’m kinda guessing (and I was pressured into it by Chris…) but here’s my top five:”
MEN… 1st: Georges Cronsteadt, 2nd: Danny Ching, 3rd: Travis Grant, 4th: Connor Baxter, 5th: Slater Trout

Jamie Mitchell
MEN… 1st: Georges Cronsteadt, 2nd: Danny Ching, 3rd: Travis Grant, 4th: Connor Baxter, 5th: Chase Kosterlitz
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel, 2nd: Jenny, 3rd: Lina

Bart de Zwart
MEN… 1st: Connor, 2nd: Danny, 3rd: Travis, 4th: Georges, 5th: Mo
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel, 2nd: Jenny, 3rd: Lina

Morgan Hoesterey
MEN… 1st: Danny, 2nd: Jamie, 3rd: Travis, 4th: Connor, 5th: Georges
WOMEN… “It doesn’t matter so long as they buy me a beer afterwards.”

Larry Cain
MEN… 1st: Danny Ching
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson, 2nd: Lina Augaitis, 3rd: Jenny Kalmbach

Travis Grant
MEN… 1st: Danny Ching
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson

Connor Baxter
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson, 2nd: Lina Augaitis, 3rd: Jenny Kalmbach

Mo Freitas
MEN… 1st: Connor, 2nd: Danny
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel, 2nd: Jenny

Angie Jackson
WOMEN… 1st Lina, 2nd Annabel, 3rd Jenny, 4th Sonni
MEN… 1st Connor, 2nd Danny, 3rd Travis, 4th Georges

Chase Kosterlitz
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson, 2nd: Jenny Kalmbach, 3rd: Lina Augaitis, 4th: Brandi Baksic, 5th: Sonni Honscheid

Kristin Thomas
MEN… 1st: Danny, 2nd: Georges, 3rd: Connor

Belar Diaz
MEN… 1st: Travis Grant, 2nd: Danny Ching, 3rd: Connor Baxter, 4th: Georges Cronsteadt, 5th: Chase Kosterlitz

Joseph Morel
MEN… 1st: Danny Ching, 2nd: Connor Baxter, 3rd: Georges Cronsteadt

Brennan Rose
MEN… 1st: Connor Baxter, 2nd: Danny Ching, 3rd: Georges Cronsteadt, 4th: Travis Grant
WOMEN… 1st: Annabel Anderson, 2nd: Lina Augaitis, 3rd: Jenny Kalmbach, 4th: Fiona Wylde

John Beausang’s regional dark horse picks:
Chris Johnson, Kevin Rhodes, Billy Miller, Steve Dulack and Jeremy Whitted will be the strongest of the locals. Look for April Zilg to surprise a few in the women’s.

Matt Becker
LINE HONOURS… 1st: Brennan Rose, 2nd: Matt Becker, 3rd: Annabel Anderson

Dave Kalama
MEN… 1st: Michael Jordan, 2nd: Kobe Bryant, 3rd: Magic Johnson, 4th: Larry Bird, 5th: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Leave a comment below with your predictions…

(Remember: Pick the correct order and we’ll send you some cool Starboard schwag)