The ladies battle it out during the final leg...
There will be no extinguishing of torches here! Survivor SUP is the new discipline in Stand up paddle racing, and it's here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Last weekend Waikiki (Hawaii) held one of the most anticipated events in Stand Up Paddling history: Jamie Mitchell's Survivor SUP. A new discipline combining iron man style endurance with the usual stand up paddle racing, it was very well received by both the competitors and the crowd which lines the Waikiki beaches all weekend long.
It wasn't without it's upsets however, with race favourites Jamie Mitchell in the mens, and Candice Appelby in the womens, losing to some relatively unknown paddlers who saved their energy for the finals. In the end it was fellow Aussie Travis Grant and Gillian Gibree (from California) who took first place, each earning a healthy wad of cash for their trouble, and catapulting Gillian Gibree into the spotlight for the first time, as until now - nobody really knew who she was.
After the race, Travis Grant described how lucky he was to take the win, after he managed to pick up the smallest of little bumps on the final leg. This allowed him to stretch the lead and gave him a head start before the final run to the finish line, without it he may not have won the race. Gillian won with good old fashioned muscle, maintaining a small lead throughout the final stages of the race to win the final by a few meters.
Second place getting in the mens, Danny Ching was happy with Grants win, saying
“Those two guys (Grant and Mitchell), and everybody in that final were so fast and so competitive. When you look at it, it’s always a bump here… a buoy turn there… it’s one little mistake. I think with this format you get the opportunity to get some of the nerves out, but it’s still very similar to a long distance paddle – in the end it still hurts.”
Like Ching, the womens runner up Jenny Kalmbach was gracious in her (minor) defeat, focussing on the far more significant feat of bettering fellow paddler Candice Appleby, who's been at the front of the SUP racing pack for years now.
“Every lap, somebody different led and there was a lot of tactics involved,” said Kalmbach. “But it was really fun. I don’t think I’ve beaten Candice in a few years. She’s such a phenomenal athlete, so I’m really stoked about that.”
The crowd were also totally stoked on the event, with the fast and furious heats of 5 minutes each keeping everyone on their toes, and proving plenty of action all day long. The men completed 5 heats and a final, while the women competed in 2 heats and a final, so at only 5 minutes each they really had to conserve as much energy as they dared for the next heat!
Seeing it was so well received, you can be sure to see the format pop up again in the very near future, keep an eye on the forums for more details on when, where and who's in line to win the next Survivor SUP...
SURVIVOR SUP ELITE MEN
1. Travis Grant (Aus); 2. Danny Ching (CA); 3. Jamie Mitchell (Aus); 4. Connor Baxter (Maui); 5. Jake Jensen (Aus); 6. Kelly Margetts (Aus); 7. Paul Jackson (Aus); 8. Slater Trout (Maui)
SURVIVOR SUP ELITE WOMEN
1. Gillian Gibree (CA); 2. Jenny Kalmbach (Haw); 3. Candice Appleby (Haw); 4. Angela Jackson; 5. Terrene Black (Aus)