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This weekend the APP World Tour hit London, kicking off the 2019 professional Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) season in style!
Recognised as the Official Professional World Championship Tour for Stand Up Paddling, the APP World Tour has been crowning world champions and putting on races in iconic locations across the globe since 2010. The big events in London over the weekend saw a long distance race down the River Thames on Saturday and sprint races taking place on Sunday on the waterways around Hackney Marshes.
The start line for the 13km ‘Race down the Thames’ was Tower Bridge, and it’s pretty hard to imagine a more iconic location to kick off an event! The course would see the racers go past landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye and finish just past Putney Bridge.
The women's race got started first, with 16 of the world’s best paddleboarders competing to get to Putney ahead of their competitors. The race got off to a frantic start as they paddled on a fast current, Fiona Wylde took an early lead taking advantage of the wake of passing boat. Wylde was soon caught by a pack of racers including Lina Augaitis, Candice Appleby, April Zilg, Annie Reickert and Seychelle Webster. The competition was fierce throughout and was eventually decided by a photo finish with Seychelle Webster just pipping Lina Augaitis across the line.
In the men’s race, the competition was just as closely contested. A leading pack including Titouan Puyo, Lincoln Dews, Michael Booth and the Hasulyo brothers (Bruno and Daniel), fought for placing throughout. It was tight between the top ten for most of the distance race and it came down to a sprint between Booth and Dews with Micheal Booth powering through to take home the win by less than a second. After a grueling 13km, only a minute separated the top 10.
Not only does the APP World Tour bring exciting races to host cities, but they also promote Stand Up Paddle and encourage all-inclusive participation through their City Paddle Festivals. After the race finished the action turned to Hackney Marshes, where at the Hackney Festival of Fitness the APP was hosting both races on the local waterways and were introducing people to Paddleboarding with beginners sessions, as well as demonstrating SUP Yoga!
There were also sessions organised by Plastic Patrol, which saw volunteers set out on an exploratory paddle and clean up on the River Lea.
On Sunday the attention turned to the pro sprint events. The overall winner of the London Tour events is decided by combining a points score from the Distance events and the Sprints, so there was still all to play for.
In the women’s event Lina Augaitis, who came second in the Distance race the previous day, shone in the early heats, April Zilg also made waves with some great tactical racing. Fiona Wylde, Candice Appleby, Amandine Chazot and Distance winner Seychelle Webster all put in some solid performances to progress through the heats.
As the competition progressed it soon became apparent the winner would come from Webster, Appleby, Chazot and Zilg after Augaitis went down, followed by Wylde. In the final Seychelle Webster crossed the line to take first place, April Zilg came second with Candice Appleby in third and Amandine Chazot taking fourth.
The men’s competition saw Casper Steinfath, who had to miss the previous day’s racing due to injury, post impressive heat times - putting pressure on the leaders. The Nika brothers (Claudio and Leonard) also pushed hard on the water, as did Titouan Puyo and Bruno Hasulyo who both made their presence felt with some powerful performances. The star of the sprints though was Noic Garioud, a 17-year-old from New Caledonia, who tore it up out on the course with some stunning performances.
The final round saw Garioud, Steinfath, Claudio Nika and Puyo compete for the title. Gariod stormed through the finish line in first place with a powerful performance that really announced the youngster as a force to reckoned with on the World Tour. Claudio Nika took home second, with Casper Steinfath and Titouan Puyo coming third and fourth respectively.
Noic Garioud’s win in the Sprint combined with his strong placing in the Distance race saw him crowned overall men’s champion for the London event. Distance winner Micheal Booth came second and Titouan Puyo third.
With wins in both the Distance and Sprint events, Seychelle Webster fully deserved to take home the Women’s crown, with April Zilig taking second and Candice Appley coming a close third.
Along with their prize money, the podium finishers won exclusive APP World Tour dryrobes and the first place winners also got a Game of Thrones style medieval helmet!
The next stop on the APP World Tour sees competitors head to New York, with a distance race that takes in the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline - we can’t wait!
You can find out more about the APP World Tour, watch highlights of previous events and live streams of races over at appworldtour.com
Facebook: APP World Tour
Photos courtesy of APP World Tour / Si Crowther and Tim Axford