May 14, 2016, Hayama, Japan—It was a successful kickoff to the 2016 Stand Up World Series at the Victoria Cup in Hayama, Japan. The world’s top SUP athletes converged for a weekend of next level racing at Zushi Beach for the first elite 4-star racing event of the year. Casper Steinfath—racing on his Naish Javelin Maliko 12’6”—finished third in Long Distance and first in Sprints, bringing home the overall title for the event. Right behind him was Kai Lenny, who rounded out the podium in third.
The scene at Zushi beach that day was likened to a rock concert by some due to the hundreds of enthusiastic and passionate SUP spectators cheering on their favorite racers. Casper describes how the energy had a positive effect on his performance mentioning that, “this made
The highlight of competition for Casper and team Naish was on the last day during the sprints. The 500-meter course featured a beach start, 3 sharp buoy turns and a run up the beach. After winning every heat and building momentum up to the final, Casper was ready to finish strong. “In the final I had my best start yet and battled rail to rail with Mo Freitas and my Naish team mate Kai Lenny. It was tight. Mo was leading most of the way but just after the last buoy turn I made a move and did not look back. It felt like my Maliko 12’6″ was flying and catching the smallest of bumps. I hit the beach first and sprinted as fast I could up the beach. I could not believe what had just happened. I just, in that moment, secured my first World Series victory.”
Marking his first overall title win on the World Series tour—and his first time defeating top competitor Connor Baxter and defending world champion Kai Lenny—this victory is a huge success for him. Casper reflects, “Kai and Connor have always been friends and heroes to me. To beat them and now lead the rankings going into the next event is truly something I have been dreaming about and training to achieve for many years.” This solidifies his position as a major contender in the lineup for this year. The next stop on the tour is Hamburg, Germany in June.
Special mention to team Naish riders Kody Kerbox (11th), Riggs Napolean (17th) and Bernd Roediger (21st) who, in a field of 68 elite paddlers, finished in top spots overall.
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