The Last Big Race Of The Year: Stacked Field Set To Chase $26,000 @ Paddle Royal
We’re just two weeks out from “the last big race of the year” – aka Paddle Royal in Puerto Rico – and it’s starting to look like it’ll be a pretty stacked event. Some very names, including Mr. Danny Ching, have signed up in the past week which, along with the $26,000 prize purse, could make this one of the races of the year.
Plus if stats are anything to go by, there’s already a lot of interest in this event from the fans. We posted 21 awesome photos from Paddle Royal the other day and the post blew up, quickly becoming one of the top five most-viewed articles on SUPracer.com for the all of 2013.
So who’s heading to Puerto Rico? And more importantly: Who do we think is going to win?
On the men’s side we’re going to see the likes of Danny Ching, Eric Terrien, Slater Trout, Chase Kosterlitz and Jake Jensen battling it out. Those are the early favourites in my book, though the field runs much deeper than that and I’d say just getting a Top 10 finish at this year’s Paddle Royal will be a big achievement.
Danny starts favorite in ever race he enters (plus he’s the reigning champ at this event) though I can see Eric pushing him all the way. The Frenchman was the only one who got close to Danny at last year’s Paddle Royal and if he can repeat the kind of heroics he displayed at the Lost Mills race in June (where Eric beat the likes of Connor Baxter, Travis Grant and co by over three minutes on the flat) then there’s an outside chance he could take it.
Another one to watch will be Chase Kosterlitz, who won this event a couple of years ago and usually performs best on these types of long, relatively flat race courses. His Fanatic teammate, Jake Jensen, will also be vying for the top three and, if Danny makes any mistakes, could even push for the win.
Then you’ve got the wildcard in Slater Trout. One of the most recognisable names in the sport has taken a bit of a break this year, being very selective with his races and not giving us true show of his current form. One way or another, I think we’ll find out for sure where Slater is at in a couple of weeks.
Outside these five we’ve got plenty more talent heading to Puerto Rico, such as four-time Olympian Jimmy Terrell (who will be presenting a special, free-of-charge technique clinic at the registration pre-party on the Thursday night), Chuck Glynn (who took line honours at the BOP Distance Race in September), local gun Nick Leason, Mr. Everywhere Belar Diaz, the Gladiator Thomas Maximus, Race Results promo model Chance Fielder and several more. That’s already 11 different guys who would podium at most races, so it’s definitely going to be a mission to crack the top 10 at Paddle Royal.
In the women’s race we know that recent BOP Brazil champ Brandi Baksic will be there, as will BOP California Distance Race #3 Lina Augaitis. Lina has won a string of events this year and, considering the relatively flat conditions at Paddle Royal, will likely start as the favourite. The entry list isn’t finalised yet, but we’ve already seen other strong women such as California’s Kristin Thomas, Cecile Gondre of France, local star Gail Vento and rising junior Bailey Rosen all put their names down.
If I had to call the race right now I’d say Danny and Lina have a slight edge on the field, though considering the interesting formula Paddle Royal uses to crown its champs, whoever takes the title will have to be on their game all weekend…
Although the main event at Paddle Royal is the epic Long Distance race, which covers both the flat-water lagoon and the open ocean, there’s also the sprint races on Sunday that help decide overall standings. Points are combined from the two, meaning you have to be both an endurance paddler and a fast sprinter to finish near the pointy end of the leaderboard.
But no matter who steps up and stakes their claim to the $26,000, we’ll be on location in Puerto Rico to give you all the results and behind the scenes action from the 2013 Paddle Royal as it happens…