It’s been two years, with anticipation by contestants growing with the swells.
Red Bull Heavy Water, a highlight on the Pro Standup Paddleboard circuit, returned to San Francisco October 18, after a cancellation in 2018 due to unfavorable weather conditions. But ideal conditions of over 10-foot waves were called early in the weather window of Oct 15 – Nov 7, and athletes from all over the world descended on the Bay Area for Red Bull sup bragging rights.
The Men’s title was claimed for the second straight time by pro paddler Casper Steinfath, 26, of Klitmøller, Denmark, an area he likes to call, “Cold Hawaii.” Trailing race leaders Mo Freitas and Connor Baxter for most of the race, Steinfath was nearly 400 meters behind when the paddlers reached the pounding surf at Ocean Beach, where 10- to 15-foot waves were obscured by a dense fog.
“I wanted to conserve energy..I’m a sprinter, not a long-distance racer,” said Steinfath. “This race is all about keeping your head calm, because we literally couldn’t see the set waves. I’m still in shock. This is by far the wildest and craziest race in the world, and I wish there were more of them.”
This year marked the first time women took part in Red Bull Heavy Water, and from the starting gun, North Carolina native April Zilg, current World #2, comfortably led the five-women field, arriving at the beach first.
While competition was called off due to deteriorating conditions before they could finish, it was Australian Terrene Black who had made the most headway, to break through the seemingly impenetrable surf at Ocean Beach to be awarded 1st place by Race Officials.
Given the commitment and fortitude of the remaining women taking part, it was deemed appropriate to share the remaining purse equall
The 8-mile course, paddling through rough waters and strong eddies from Aquatic Park, under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and finishing at Ocean Beach, saw 25 of the world’s best male and female athletes assembled to test their skills against the best of the best in the sup world.
Split evenly between the male and female categories, $75,000 was designated for the prize purse, along with important points towards the Overall APP World Tour Rankings.
“It was an incredible show of bravado and skill out in the challenging waters of San Francisco today,” said Race Director and Waterman League CEO Tristan Boxford. “Ocean Beach has been regarded as the real equalizer since the inception of Red Bull Heavy Water back in 2016, but this year, the whole course provided what was without a doubt the most challenging and ‘heavy’ race to date. A big congratulations to all our competitors this year – what a spectacular show.”
Top 5 fMen and Women:
- Terrene Black (Australia)
- April Zilg (USA)
- Annie Reickert (HI)
- Fiona Wylde (USA)
- Shakira Westdorp (AUS)
- Casper Steinfath (Denmark)
- Arthur Arutkin (France)
- Mo Freitas (Hawaii)
- Christian Anderson (Denmark)
- Zane Schweitzer (Hawaii)
Full highlights, broadcast replay, and photos can be seen at www.appworldtour.com and @appworldtour.