September 26-October 4, 2015, Huntington Beach, California – The world’s best SUP surfers and racers converged on the sunny coast of California during the final event of the Stand Up World Tour (surfing) and the third stop of the SUP World Series (racing) both hosted at Huntington Beach during the US Open of SUP this past weekend. Earning the top rankings on their new Javelin Maliko 12’6” LE boards in the race events were Casper Steinfath (third) and Kai Lenny, who took first in both the sprints and long distance events to earn himself the coveted championship crown for the entire US Open of SUP! Fellow Naish riders Mariko Strickland and Annie Reickhert also pulled in some impressive rankings with Mariko taking second place for the women’s surfing event and Annie earning first in the women’s open class long distance race.
Held by the Waterman League, the US Open in Huntington Beach is a much anticipated world event, which sandwiches both the Stand Up World Tour and Stand Up World Series into one iconic location, for a back-to-back marathon weekend of SUP. The beach itself is famous for its world-class waves and perfect weather, making it an ideal location for a surf contest. However, on the weekend of the surfing event, the ocean provided shin-high waves and inconsistent 10-minute lulls between sets making for some of the hardest conditions to compete in.
Mariko Strickland described how challenging the conditions were in her final heat, stating: “I just couldn’t get a decent wave to showcase my surfing. With contest surfing you never know how the conditions will be and you have to do your best to adjust to the circumstances.” Mariko isn’t on the world tour, but progressed all the way to the final heat—placing second overall and proving how diverse of an athlete she is. Earning second place was a huge confidence booster for Mariko and a great indication of where she stands among the world’s best SUP surfers. Her new goal is to compete fulltime on the world tour next year and we look forward to seeing her progress.
The World Series—following the World Tour of surfing—was a thrilling showcase of expert racing and heated spectacle among the best. Ironically, the waves picked up tremendously, just in time for the racing event, adding extra excitement and challenge into the mix. Kai Lenny was in perfect form on his Naish Javelin Maliko 12’6” X24 LE racing board, maintaining a strong lead in both the sprints and long distance. In the last leg of the long distance, Casper Steinfath (also on his Javelin Maliko 12’6” X24 LE) and Mo Freitas were on his heels—Mo being in the perfect position for a wave in. Kai found the sweet spot, though, paddling hard for a strong first place finish and the title of 2015 US Open Champion.
Team Naish did an overall standout job and aren’t even close to slowing down. The Battle of the paddle—renamed “Pacific Paddle Games”—is coming up next weekend, October 10, 2015, in Dana Point, California. Following that race is the World Series Finals at Turtle Bay in Oahu, Hawaii, where Kai Lenny will fight for the Championship World Title. Stay tuned for more!
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Photos: Waterman League