Australian Michael Booth and Germany’s Sonni Hönscheid are in the spotlight at this weekend’s Carolina Cup in Wrightsville Beach. Both champs are slated to defend their titles against an army of the world’s top professionals in the grueling Graveyard Race, one of the most challenging standup paddleboard races on the circuit.
“The Graveyard course is the most punishing single-day race on the international calendar every year,” said five-time Carolina Cup Champion Annabel Anderson of New Zealand. “It is technically demanding, tactically difficult, and physically punishing, the true test of the complete paddler.”
“The Graveyard Race is 21-kilometers of varied conditions that test the best of the best every year,” said Booth, rated as one the top two paddlers in the world in both the Paddle League and APP rankings.
“It’s a long race, and everything can happen,” said Hönscheid, winner of the women’s Paddle League’s World Title in 2018.
Scheduled for April 24-28, the Carolina Cup is one of the world’s largest paddle festivals, featuring races, clinics, expos, and entertainment, with athletes attending from over 20 nations and virtually every state in the USA.
“Registration is tracking close to last year for the Graveyard and maybe a little bump higher,” said Mark Schmidt, Carolina Cup Race Director. “This year, we are using the APP/WPA for our live feed coverage and should have the links by Friday (April 26) around 1 PM.”
Carolina Cup includes standup paddleboard, prone, kayak, surfski, and OC endurance races. Distances are 5, 10, and 21-kilometers, with course selection and length designed to meet a wide range of skill levels. A short sprint course on the sound is the host site for the Kids Race.
Competitors at Carolina Cup include Olympians, world-record holders, champions, professionals, amateurs, and first-time paddlers. All races begin and end at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, the official resort of the Carolina Cup
Races on the 2019 schedule:
- Graveyard Race; a grueling 13.2-mile ocean and flatwater race for the elite and professional paddleboard racers; SUP; Prone;
- Money Island Open Race; a 10-kilometer flatwater race designed for the intermediate to advanced paddler; SUP; Prone; Kayak; Surfski; OC;
- Harbor Island Recreational Race; a 5-kilometer flatwater race for first-time to intermediate paddleboarders; SUP; Prone;
- Graveyard Surfski and Outrigger Race; a 13.2-mile elite race starting and finishing on the sound side; Kayak; OC; Surfski;
- The Kids Race; for children 6 to 14.
Clinics and workshops will be presented at Carolina Cup by Michael Booth and other top paddle athletes. Subjects include ocean racing; beach starts and surf landings; instructor certification; the perfect race day; SUP paddling; outrigger canoe paddling; one-on-one sessions; paddle skills and techniques; the TRX training system; motivation to race; footwork; and, drills. In addition to Booth, instructors on the agenda are Dan Gavere of Oregon; Travis Grant from Australia; North Carolina’s April Zilg (now residing in California); Florida’s Seychelle; Candice Appleby of California; and Hood River’s Fiona Wylde.
Organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association (WPA), the 9th annual Carolina Cup is the first SUP race of the 2019 Qualifier Series, a newly formed partnership by the WPA and Association of Paddle-surf Professionals (APP). Competitors in the Carolina Cup have the opportunity to earn points to qualify for the APP World Tour and World Championship.