This time around the wonderful sport of Stand Up Paddling brought us to San Francisco for the Stand Up World Series America’s Cup AC Open Paddle Pro! The Prestigious America’s Cup is the second to oldest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics, running for 162 years! It was such an honor to be apart of this event with the SUWS and show the Yatching world what professional Stand Up Paddle Racing is all about! And at the same time it was such a pleasure to see what the America’s CUP had in store for us with the amazing 78foot Hydrofoiling sailboats reaching up to 48 knots maneuvering through a windsurf like Slalom course..!
The event is huge, practically consuming the entire city of San Francisco, and seating hundreds of people in the stadium seating arena just in front of our Course for the SUWS!! The first day of competition consisted with a grueling 7 mile Distance course, with 25-30 knots of head wind and waist high swell coming towards us for the first 2.5 miles up and around the Golden Gate Bridge, making it a very challenging and physical demeaning course.. It was quite a challenge on the first leg up wind and we sure got a beating, and just to make it better, Annabel Anderson was leading the pack for the majority of the upwind leg with a ideal board selection for this course; the ACE 12′6×25″! With the consistent rocker line and high nose out of the water this board was perfect for the grouping rough up wind/swell grinder!
I was in the back of the train in 8th on the way up, but after rounding that buoy my Wave reading abilities brought me up to 4th place with a solid podium finish for the first day of competition! Connor Baxter wins overall with his waves reading and high speed paddling with Kai right behind him.. Annabel Anderson also wins for the Women and even places 5th overall for the distance!
The next day was my highlight, as the sprints always are for me, with an awesome agile course just right in front of the amazing Stadium seating crowd and with the AC OPEN Youth 45ft Cats lined up behind us in the back drop! It was quite a sight to be seen… People from all over the world came to watch this amazing event, and had a surprise to see the awesome new sport of Stand Up Paddle Racing with the Stand Up World Series!! We had great reactions and awesome support from the crowd and the America’s CUP coordinators/organizers and even the Athletes who competed in the Prestigious Yachting event!
I had my head in the game with a goal to finish top 3, finishing in 1st in every round up until the semifinals I was feeling confident and ready to give it my all! The finals was stacked with the worlds best paddlers, and it was a tight and exciting heat.. Off the start I rounded the first buoy in 3rd, right there neck to neck with Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny. I knew I had to keep that position through the rest of the course and around the next 3 buoy turns.. Around the last buoy turn it got tight, with Kai in the lead and Connor just in my reach to pass. Before thinking anything I knew that I had consolidated my overall 3rd place position, even if I pass Connor and take 2nd, It wouldn’t change my position, but that would only take Connor out of the game for an overall win.. Just before the finish line I cheer Connor on and make sure he passes through before me! In the end my position would not have changed overall weather I placed 2nd or 3rd in that final, but I knew Connor could get Kai in the Tie Breaker to take another win for Starboard!!!
This was my 3rd best finish yet in my racing career on the Stand Up World Series behind my 1st place finish at Turtle bay and my 2nd place finish in Bilabao! I was thrilled to have placed 3rd overall at such a highly recognized and important event taking place in hands with the America’s CUP!
But it wasn’t over yet, Connor and Kai had to break a Tie breaker with another short sprint… I am always Connor’s #1 support team and I was there for him screaming my lungs out cheering him on as I saw him bolt of the start ahead of Kai.. After Connor Rounded that buoy in 1st I knew it was over for Kai, with Connors amazing down wind skills on the last leg through the finish!
I Can’t say it enough! Awesome times and great company here at the WatermanLeague Stand Up World Series San Francisco AC Open Paddle Pro!! STOKED on my 3rd place Finish here and even more thrilled to have consolidated an overall 3rd place ranking on the tour after this finish!!!
Thanks for all of the Support!! Aloha a hui hou and Mahalo Nui Loa!!
Zane Kekoa Schweitzer