Red Bull just announced the newest addition to the Stand Up World Series circuit. It’s called Red Bull Heavy Water, which, despite the fact that it sounds a bit like another name for diarrhea, is going to be incredible, even for people that hate stand up paddlers.
Stand up paddlers take a lot of shit from surfers, which is dumb. What someone else is riding has no bearing on what you’re riding–unless, of course, they’re being assholes while riding it. And assholes aren’t exclusive to SUPs, they’re exclusive to life. They’re in every line up, riding shortboards, longboards, handplanes, etc. If you’re the type that’s openly hating on a guy just because they have a paddle in their hand, it’s likely you’re one of the assholes, at least to a certain degree.
Some of the greatest surfers on earth are avid stand up paddlers. They’re generally a bit of a different breed–a little more into fitness and the act of simply riding waves, and generally less concerned with other people’s perception of them. It’s a good thing. Take Kai Lenny, for example. He rides anything and everything, from gas-powered to wind-powered to paddle-powered to arm-powered. He rides things that he has fun on and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. He is also one of the most humble, nicest people you’ll ever meet, is the current world champ, and is pretty much accepted as one of the greatest all-around watermen in the world.
Red Bull Heavy Water is probably the most difficult stand up paddle race ever created. With an event window that takes up most of September, 40 of the world’s finest SUP athletes will start at the infamous Ocean Beach and finish under the Golden Gate Bridge. Waves at OB must be more than 10 feet high, where competitors will have to paddle out through the surf and back to the beach not once, but twice. Afterwards, they’ll paddle around Lands End towards the Golden Gate. As everyone knows, the ocean in that neck of the woods is not friendly.
“I think Red Bull Heavy Water is going to be my favorite event, especially because the course is by far the most intense on this circuit,” said Kai Lenny. “The waves here in the Bay Area are huge and consistent. It’s going to take a lot of patience to get through this course.”
The event has a prize purse of $50,000, with $20,000 of that going into the winner’s pocket. That’s the highest first place prize of any SUP event ever, and good news for the financially struggling Waterman League. According to SUPRacer.com, “athletes are owed tens of thousands of dollars from season 2015, while there are serious doubts about several of the proposed events on the 2016 Stand Up World Series schedule.”
According to reports, as of February of 2016, competitors are still owed a combined $70,000–but in a show of ultimate love of the sport, during the Sunset Beach Pro in Hawaii early in 2016, competitors decided to compete despite the fact that Waterman League Founder Tristan Boxford stood up and said there was no money for prizes. The surf, of course, was absolutely pumping.
Since Red Bull Heavy Water is such a dangerous contest, the competitors must all be at the absolute top of the game. So far, they include Kai Lenny (HI), Connor Baxter (HI), the 2014 World Champ, Casper Steinfath (DK), Zane Schweitzer (HI), Leonard Nika (IT), Arthur Arutkin (FR), Mo Freitas (HI), Jake Jensen (AUS), Travis Grant (AUS), Eric Terrien (FR), Kody Kerbox (HI), Slater Trout (USA), Fernando Stalla (MEX) and Haakon Hoyer-Nielsen (San Francisco local). There will be 15 wildcard spots available for open entry, subject to a screening process to ensure safety standards are met.