After a morning of racing on the Thames, Pro racers moved back to the Royal Victoria Docks for the afternoon of Sprint Racing. Some surprising upsets abounded!
SPRINT RACES FIRE UP COMPETITION AT ROYAL DOCKS
The afternoon Sprint Races were held after Britain’s game in the World Cup to allow spectators to enjoy the results in the City Paddle Festival beer garden and watch the game on the Live Broadcast TV.
The Men’s SUP Sprints featured several rounds. Each heat held six racers on the Royal Docks waters and featured a 3-buoy turn (200 meter) course in front of the crowds. The Top 3 racers from each heat advanced to the next round and a repecharge heat was held for “Last Chance” opportunities to make it to the next round.
The competition was fast and furious. The first heat for the Men set the tone for the day as Kai Lenny (who placed a modest 5th in the 4KM on the Thames that morning) blasted off the start in a fantastic fury to hit the first buoy out in front.
The heat was on. All throughout the comps, Kai asserted his dominance and moved quickly through to the finals setting so many back on their heels as we expected his primary focus to be on the WSL Big Wave Surf Tour for the past year. But, Kai is Kai, and his skill and speed are tremendous. Connor, Casper, Mo and others all had a hard time keeping up with the pace.
MOVING THROUGH THE PRO SPRINT HEATS, THE ACTION LIGHTS UP
As the men advanced throughout the heats, some heartbreaks unfolded. Mo Freitas who was strong and focused on his newly designed Rogue Race model, went down at the buoy in his semi-final in a battle with Michael Booth as he was pulling out in front and had to fight his way back in the repecharge heat. In that round, the furious powers of Slater Trout and Artur Arutkin drove the three men to a photo finish coming through the Red Bull arch at the finish. Slater and Artur were awarded the win and Mo has to wait his turn for another day.
Leading up to the final round, the heat of the day wore on. Windless and hot, the APP Tour directors slowed down the competition in order to give contestants a chance to catch their breath. Finally, in that final heat, toes on the line were Kai, Connor, Casper, Artur and Slater.
MEN’S FINAL IS A HOT HOUSE OF POWER
The horn went off, and once again, Kai’s furious speed gave him a nose length in front of Casper (who’s fire was notable and dominant) as he hit the first buoy. Casper held on a half a board length back and kept serious pressure on the young Hawaiian in the turns that followed. The crowd, on their feet and shouting, could be heard yelling for both Kai and Casper. Connor, in the mix as always, found his rhythm and stayed focused a board length back.
Around the final turn and in the race to the arch, Casper looked like he was ready to release his full Viking power, but the course just proved too short and Kai’s quick strength brought him home just ahead of the powerful Dane. Connor’s third place win was only a breath behind the two out front.
Men’s Sprint Finals: 1- Kai Lenny (Infinity) 2 – Casper Steinfath (Naish) 3 – Connor Baxter (Starboard) 4 – Artur Arutkin (Fanatic) 5 – Daniel Hasulyo (Starboard) 6 – Michael Booth (Starboard) 7 – Bruno Hasulyo (Starboard)
WOMEN SPRINTS CREATE FIRE IN THE RACE FOR WOLD TITLE
For the gals, it was a shorter day as the women had fewer contestants and lesser rounds to power through. With two heats and a semi, the gals ran the same 200 meter course as the men at the Royal Docks.
The women’s Sprints were equally as exciting as the men with powerhouses Candice Appleby, Annie Reickert, Manca Notar and Yuka Sato in the mix. Looking fiery off the starts, even with her broken toe, Candice led the charge in her early heats forcing the young guns to fire up and get to speed quickly.
Yuka, Manca, Annie Reickert and Marie Buchanan held strong advancing round to round with Infinity’s Shae Foudy tearing through every heat out in front.
In the end, Shae’s explosive energy dominated the course as in the final she powered out in front and held her ground through the finish making it a double win for Team Infinity for both the Men & Women in the Sprints.
Shae’s win was followed up by excellent performances by Manca Notar in second and Annie Reickert in third.
Women’s Pro Sprint Finals
1 – Shae Foudy (Infinity) 2 – Manca Notar (Naish) 3 – Annie Reickert (Naish) 4 – Candice Appleby (Infinity ) 5 – Yuka Sato (Starboard)