December 9, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Following Big Races In Perth And Paris, Changes To The World Rankings

Stand Up Paddling World Ranking December 2014

>> Skip the analysis? Jump straight to the updated SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS

Following two big events on the weekend we’ve seen some serious movement in the SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS. Over three-quarters of the positions inside the men’s Top 100 changed hands on Monday morning, after both the the King of the Cut in Western Australia and the Paris Crossing in France qualified for the rankings.

Despite the clash of dates, the two events each attracted a solid level of competition and scored an identical Race Index of 18%, just enough to qualify above the minimum 15% threshold. That meant the Top 50 finishers in each race were awarded points for their overall World Ranking.

The King of the Cut was a one-off race, a 24km downwinder won by Beau O’Brian, while the Paris Crossing was actually two separate races as far as the rankings were concerned: An 11km flat water race (taken out in impressive fashion by Titouan Puyo) and the knockout sprint competition held indoors at the Paris Boat Show (where Casper Steinfath was victorious)

There was no update to the women’s rankings on the weekend, so let’s look at a few stats from the men’s.

We had very little movement inside the top 25 – only 4x positions changed – but there were a lot of ups and downs in the lower three quarters of men’s Top 100.

The Top 10 is still largely the same, the only difference being that Casper and Eric switched positions.

1st: Connor Baxter (236.60 points)
2nd: Kai Lenny (235.38)
3rd: Danny Ching (214.80)
4th: Jake Jensen (164.04)
5th: Travis Grant (153.15)
6th: Mo Freitas (129.13)
7th: Georges Cronsteadt (126.91)
8th: Casper Steinfath (105.70)
9th: Beau O’Brian (104.50)
10th: Eric Terrien (103.40)


Following his second downwind victory in eight days, Beau actually moved up to a virtual 8th position on Saturday afternoon. However within 24 hours Casper had leapfrogged both the Aussie and Eric with a strong showing in Paris. So by the time we updated the rankings on Monday morning, Beau hadn’t moved anywhere despite his great performance.

Beau’s stalemate is mainly due to the fact there were only incremental increases in the total points of himself, Eric and Casper, as they were already holding onto several good results from previous, higher-scoring races. Casper’s gain was only marginal but was just enough to leapfrog the other guys. There is now less than 2.30 points separating this trio as they jockey for position inside the Top 10.

There was no points increase at all for guys like Jake Jensen (#4 in the world) and Travis Grant (#5), despite their strong performances in West Oz. That’s because they’re already holding onto five very good results from previous, high-level races, meaning their respective placings at the 18% King of the Cut race (3rd for Jake and runner-up for Travis) weren’t enough to cause any change.

Similarly Kai Lenny saw no change to his world ranking (#2) or total ranking points (235.38) despite being on the water this past weekend. Kai didn’t have the greatest results in Paris (9th in the distance race and 6th in the pool), however even if he’d won the event his ranking would have stayed the same. The young superstar is already holding onto five excellent results from the major races of the past 12 months. That means Kai’s only hope of replacing Connor on top of the world before the end of the year was if he won the Paris Crossing and the event scored 24% or higher on the Race Index. Neither of which happened.

We also saw New Caledonia’s Titouan Puyo move up one spot after a crushing performance on the River Seine. Titou defeated the Danish Viking Casper Steinfath (now ranked world #8), Kai Lenny (world #2), Eric Terrien (now ranked #10 in the world) and a host of other Top 100 contenders in what will surely go down as the single biggest SUP race of the year (there were 400 paddlers on the sold-out start line).

While it’s only one place higher, this is a symbolic move for Titou… In the past I’ve always run a “Top 11 of 2011, Top 12 of 2012, etc” end of year ranking. The new SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS have kinda taken over those old “power rankings” however if I were to do one this year, it would be based on the current rankings. That means Titou would just scrape into the hypothetical “Top 14 of 2014” end of year best of.

The single most significant jump on the weekend came from Gaetan Sene, whose fine performances in Paris – where he finished 3rd in both the distance and sprint events – saw him jump 33 places to world #31. Gaetan, one of France’s SUP racing stalwarts, is a river specialist who would have been relishing the unpredictable conditions in the heart of the French capital on Sunday morning.

Speaking of big jumps by Frenchman, Gaetan’s compatriot Martin Letourneur also had a big move on the weekend. Martin is one of the young, rising stars of France and also took out the “Most Courageous” award at the BOP California two months ago. After a strong effort in the distance race and pool sprints, Martin has moved +14 spots to now be ranked #33 in the world. With his young age and determination, I’d expect Martin to climb even higher in 2015.

We also saw Austria’s Peter Bartl (#42) and Spain’s Roman Frejo (#46) move inside the Top 50 for the first time, following their respective strong showings at the Paris Crossing. Roman also took a symbolic step by overtaking Belar Diaz (#48 in the world) as the highest ranked Spaniard in the world.

Aaron Rowe (#58) and Ollie Shilston (#72) also made good gains after the weekend in a show of force for the U.K. paddling scene.

Squeezing his way into the Top 100 is Martin Vitry, another of Europe’s promising juniors. Martin jumped a massive 154 places to be ranked #89 in the SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS.

However the biggest movers were Thomas Hébert, Joseph Gueguen and Pierre Nau. None of these guys existed in the rankings database before the weekend, which meant they were in virtual last place (443rd) coming into the Paris Crossing. After strong showings in both the long distance and indoor sprint races, Thomas is now #73 in the world (+370), Joseph is #97 (+346) and Pierre #99 (+344).

A total of 48 new paddlers entered the overall rankings database on the weekend, with 8 paddlers entering and 8 paddlers exiting the Top 100. Even though we’re only showing the Top 100 ranked men and Top 50 women, there are actually 601 paddlers (485 men and 116 women) in the full rankings database. That includes every single paddler who has finished anywhere in the top 50 at any of the 27 most competitive races of the past 12 months.

There were also five paddlers that were completely dropped from the rankings. Those five were only carrying 1x result and that was from the 2013 Paddle Royal, an event that was discarded on the weekend for being more than 12 months old. The SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS uses a rolling, 12-month system similar to what we see in the ATP pro tennis rankings. This keeps the rankings fresh and accurate.

Other paddlers who dropped their Paddle Royal result, such as Ryan Helm (now ranked #32), Chuck Glynn (#38) and Chance Fielder (#66) all saw their rankings tumble. Though in fairness to these three guys, they’re all holding just 4x results, meaning they’re all counting a 0-point score in their total points.

Chucky Glynn’s ranking is particularly cruel, seeing how he was forced to retire hurt from the Battle of the Paddle Elite Race final after getting one of the quickest times in the heats. The BOP Elite Race was the highest scoring event of the year (it snagged 92% on the Race Index after attracting almost all of the world’s elite). So if Chuck hadn’t have gotten injured, and if he’d continued the fine form he’d shown during the heats, he’d likely be in the Top 15 in the world right now.

Battle of the Paddle Party Wave

The One Race Club has also dropped in numbers, with just four paddlers now holding onto this exclusive honour. Some of the previous inductees, such as Sam Parker, received their second result on the weekend, while other One Race Club members dropped outside the top 100 altogether.

The One Race Club recognises paddlers that have earned a world ranking inside the top 100 despite only having raced in 1x eligible event. Each paddler’s best 5 results count towards their total rankings, so if you’re in the “Club” you’re in the Top 100 despite carrying 1x result and 4x 0-point donuts in your total. That’s quite an achievement when you’re up against guys that have 500% more races counting towards their ranking points.

Jeremy Riggs is still President of the One Race Club, holding a world ranking of #54 after his fine performance at the big OluKai race earlier this year. Other members include Stefan Stiefenhöfer (#67), Spencer Lacy (#76) and Martijn van Deth (#94). As the SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS grow and more and more paddlers travel to more of the major races, the One Race Club will become more and more exclusive and may even disappear completely in the future.

Taking it one step further: There are 20 members in the Two Race Club, the highest of which is Jayden Jensen (#40).

Another unique honour is currently being shared by Eric Terrien, Jake Jensen and Connor Baxter. These three guys have competed in more major races than any other paddler over the past 12 months, each holding 15 results. Only the BEST FIVE of those results will ever count in the total ranking points of each paddler (this is to make it fair to those who don’t travel as much), but I still think it’s interesting to see who competes the most. Casper Steinfath and Spain’s nomadic Belar Diaz are next on the list with 14 races each.

If you take a look at the rankings and sort the table by “Total Races” you’ll see how many eligible races each paddler has competed in. Any athlete that has less than 5x races is holding onto at least one 0-point result, meaning they’ll quickly shoot up the rankings if they compete in more of the major races in 2015.

Paris wasn’t the only race that awarded points on the weekend, with the King of the Cut in Western Australia scoring just as highly on the “level of competition” Race Index.

The biggest benefactors from the KotC were in the lower half of the Top 100: Matt Nottage (#62) jumped 40 places after his second strong showing in two weekends. Matt took 4th place at the King of the Cut and also scored points at The Doctor the weekend prior. The Aussie youngster was sitting just outside the Top 100 (#102) coming into this weekend.

Despite having a poorer showing at King of the Cut (9th place) than what he scored at The Docotor (5th place), Sam Parker continued to climb the rankings and is now #75 in the world. Perth locals the Tardrew brothers also jumped right up after the King of the Cut. Ben Tardrew is now #80 in the world, narrowly ahead of brother Marcus who is sitting on #84. Michael Hastie (#86) also jumped into the Top 100 after completing the Doctor/King of the Cut double.

All four of these guys are members of the Two Race Club, meaning they’re holding onto 3x 0 point results and will skyrocket up the rankings if they compete in more of the major races next year.

I don’t personally choose which races are included in the SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS – it’s entirely determined by the Race Index algorithm – but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of the major races for 2014. There’s a bit happening around the world this weekend but I don’t think there will be any changes to the order before season 2015 kicks into gear.

That means Connor Baxter and Annabel Anderson will finish the year ranked world #1. Will they be able to hold on next year? They’ve currently got 599 paddlers trying to chase them down…


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>> Top 50 Women