The Top 14 Races Of 2014
It’s that time of year again, when our Facebook feeds get flooded with two things: Christmas wishes and end of year “Best Of” lists.
End of year best ofs have become something of a tradition here at SUPracer.com. The very first post I ever did – three years ago this week – was the Top 11 of 2011. That article attempted to rank the best paddlers in the world for the first time and it followed with a Top 12 of 2012 and Top 13 of 2013.
Those power rankings have since evolved into something far more accurate and unbiased – the new SUP RACER WORLD RANKINGS – but the idea of doing the “Top xx of 20xx” is still something I like, so let’s take it up a notch this year.
Being the total stats geek that I am, I dug through our Google Analytics archive and plucked out some of the biggest and best numbers from 2014. I’ll release a bunch of these “Top 14” lists this week, including the 14 most popular news stories, 14 most popular videos and so on. But for now let’s start with the Top 14 Most Popular Races of 2014.
I was stoked to see we had well over 1,000,000 page views on SUPracer.com for the first time this year. We also had visitors from almost every single nation on earth (thanks for the 1 page view Botswana, hope you found what you were looking for). But which races got the lion’s share of those views? Let’s take a closer look…
This list is based on combined page views from all posts about each specific race, which benefits the events that produce several articles, such as the week-long ISA Worlds and the always-in-the-news-cycle Battle of the Paddle.
I’m not saying that these 14 races were the best or the only good events in the world this year, these were simply the ones that attracted the most interest here on SUPracer.com in terms of raw page views. And of course I also simply choose to write about some races more than others…
As you can see from the list below, the Battle of the Paddle California still rules the world, being responsible for more than 1 out of every 10 visitors to the entire site throughout the entire year. That’s over 300% more than the next biggest race, Molokai-2-Oahu, and 20x bigger than the races at the lower end of the Top 14.
So while the SUP racing world expanded in 2014 to include some amazing races in amazing locations, the BOP is still the Super Bowl of SUP. In fact the Battle is so popular that one single post on the topic, the Live Blog we did on race weekend, became the third most-viewed page on the site, behind only the Rogue Race Calendar and the SUPracer.com home page itself.
Outside of the BOP and Molokai, which are generally considered the two most prestigious races in the sport, we see a diverse range of events from around the world.
(Note: Molokai probably would have scored twice as many page views if my site didn’t crash mid-race, an issue that’s already been resolved ahead of next year.)
The Ultimate SUP Showdown definitely garnered plenty of hype, attracting the second-most-competitive field of talent for the year to become the third-most-viewed event on SUPracer.com. While it’s a mystery what will happen to the Showdown in 2015, it definitely got our attention this year.
The ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship, which I wrote 27x different news articles on this year, scooped 4th place on the list, just ahead of the massive and well-attended Carolina Cup.
Perhaps the biggest single race outside of the USA, Germany’s Lost Mills, scooped #6 to reinforce its status as Europe’s premiere SUP race. The Gorge Paddle Challenge is another standalone race that attracts a big lineup of elite and weekend warriors alike, along with a big following here on the site.
The SUP 11 City Tour, one of my personal favourites, benefited from my daily insights/descent into madness, as I paddled the entire, 200+ kilometre course on a Mistral inflatable this year.
Maui-2-Molokai punched above its weight, landing at #9 on the list mainly due to that epic aerial video we posted. Similarly the Maui Paddleboard Race scraped into the list on the back of an interesting highlights reel, this one from Buzzy Kerbox’s jetski that gave us an insider’s view of the action.
The 10th most popular race of 2014 was probably the #1 most fun. And it was definitely #1 when it came to ranking races via prize money… The Payette River Games in Cascade, Idaho is part SUP race, part river festival, part lumberjack tournament, part party-in-the-countryside. And in 2015 it’ll be even better (and it also won’t clash with the Lost Mills dates next year…) so I’d expect the PRGs to be much higher on this list in 2015.
The 11th most popular race, the Battle of the Paddle’s South American expansion project the BOP Brazil, was another one of the very well organised and very fun events of 2014 that I was lucky enough to experience first hand. In fact of the 14 races on this list, I was fortunate to either compete or be on the beach watching all but four of them (Lost Mills, OluKai, Race The Lake and M2M).
Rounding out the Top 14 are two of the biggest races in terms of participation numbers, the OluKai downwinder on Maui and Race The Lake of the Sky at Tahoe, otherwise known as the “Gathering of the Tribes” or the “Feel Good Race of the Summer” due to its laid-back, grassroots vibe.
These two events also added to the overwhelming weighting of USA-based events, with the country responsible for 10/14 of the most popular SUP races this year. Europe picked up two (Germany and the Netherlands) while Latin America scored the remaining pair (via Nicaragua and Brazil).
USA: 10 races (Hawaii: 5, California: 2, North Carolina: 1, Oregon: 1, Idaho: 1), Germany: 1, Netherlands: 1, Brazil: 1, Nicaragua: 1.
But anyway, enough of my analysis/rambling, let’s get down to the raw numbers. Here they are, the 14 biggest races of the year…
The 14 Most Popular SUP Races of 2014
#1: Battle of the Paddle California (10.51% of total website traffic)
#2: Molokai-2-Oahu (3.33%)
#3: Ultimate SUP Showdown (2.51%)
#4: ISA Worlds (2.39%)
#5: Carolina Cup (2.19%)
#6: The Lost Mills (2.04%)
#7: Gorge Paddle Challenge (1.51%)
#8: SUP 11 City Tour (1.28%)
#9: Maui-2-Molokai (1.27%)
#10: Payette River Games (1.25%)
#11: Maui Paddleboard Race (0.88%)
#12: Battle of the Paddle Brazil (0.73%)
#13: OluKai (0.72%)
#14: Race The Lake of the Sky (0.61%)
Unlucky to just miss out were Ironmana (0.55%) and King of the Cut (0.40%), both of which have the disadvantage of only being held in recent weeks whereas some of the other races had almost 12 months to accumulate long-tail page views.
So there you go. Those were the big races on SUPracer.com.
Now stay tuned over the next week as we countdown more “Top 14 of 2014” lists.