Michael Booth & Sonni Hönscheid Powerhouses Rockin' the Quicksilver Waterman Carolina Cup
Record field of elite competitors set up an exciting race that didn’t disappoint. Conditions varied from strong ocean downwinder to calm flat water.
Mo Freitas broke free in the one mile ocean “sprint” to the inlet entrance, however Titouan Puyo, Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Lincoln Dews and Danny Ching closely matched him
Michael Booth and Georges Cronsteadt quickly dragged the peloton back together to create a front pack of 17 guys that stuck together for the first 10 of 13 miles.
The course was reversed this year (clockwise around Wrightsville “island”) to make most of wind and tides. It was the first time since 2014. The pace was mellow in the long, flat back straight of the inter-coastal waterway, with several of the contenders chatting and many top guys commenting post-race about how fun it was.
“It was like a Sunday morning training session for a couple of miles there.” -- Travis Grant
As the leaders neared the end of the flat stretch things grew more serious and the pace was picked up. The field totally scattered in the final 3-mile ocean leg when those who were just hanging on quickly dropped away. Michael Booth made his move as soon as they entered the ocean. Booth held off the traditional ocean masters Travis Grant and Titouan Puyo in the 3-mile downwind leg home to record a well-deserved victory and prove he’s an all-round all-star athlete!
It was redemption for Booth after his capitulation in Tahiti two weeks ago and a disappointing Carolina Cup 12 months ago.
“This is definitely my biggest win yet.” -- Michael Booth
Michael Booth now the ratings leader on The Paddle League World Rankings.
In one of the most exciting finishes we’ve ever seen, Travis Grant and Mo Freitas closed the gap to a few metres in the final, frantic 250 metre sprint from the final marker buoy to the beach finish. Many paddlers simply described the race as “fun” given the downwind conditions and relatively calm racing in the flat stretches.
Titouan Puyo - “It was so much fun! Good downwind and mellow flat water.”
Several big names surprisingly dropped off the pace: in a sign of how competitive the field was, number one seed Connor Baxter finished outside the top 15 in a race that has become his Achilles heel.
TOP 10 ELITE MEN
1st: Michael Booth (2:03:14) 2nd: Travis Grant (2:03:21) 3rd: Mo Freitas (2:03:27) 4th: Titouan Puyo (2:03:43) 5th: Georges Cronsteadt (2:03:49) 6th: Marcus Hansen (2:04:51) 7th: Lincoln Dews (2:05:02) *8th: Niuhiti Buillard (2:05:25) 9th: Bruno Hasulyo (2:05:30) 10th: Danny Ching (2:05:35) 11th: Josh Riccio (2:05:43)
*Niuhiti wasn't initially listed in the results but did actually finished 8th
CONGRATULATIONS SONNI HÖNSCHEID
Arguably the most competitive women’s field ever assembled and without number one seed and five-time champ Annabel Anderson (injured) a fresh winner was guaranteed. Sonni stepped up and dominated from start to finish, catching early leader Fiona Wylde then breaking away at the five-mile mark and never looking back.
The German powerhouse looked equally comfortable in the flat and the bumps
This is Sonni’s second win from the first two stops of The Paddle League World Tour after her similarly dominant display in Tahiti two weeks ago she is now the ratings leader on The Paddle League World Rankings and will be very hard to stop in the hunt for the world title. Wylde tried to chase her down but was eventually caught by Hönscheid.
Olivia Piana paddled exceptionally well all day and took second place after overpowering Wylde in the second half. Wylde surfed the bumps home for third place and true to form was all smiles post-race “I’ve never had so much fun in Carolina!”
Hometown hero April Zilg received biggest cheers of the day after crossing an impressive fourth with Seychelle making a great comeback in the ocean to finish 5th. Veteran Candice Appleby still looking strong in 6thand Terrene Black had looked a strong podium contender all race but had to settle for 7th. Young gun Shae Foudy rounded in 8th in a rough day when the veteran athletes dominated; new star on the block Jade Howson was 11th, which highlights just how competitive the field was. It’s worth mention the two ultra dark horses rounded out the top 10: Yuka Sato from Japan (the “smiling assassin”) who was looking set for a top three spot before fading in the rough ocean finish, and the highly under-rated Laura Quetglas from Spain, who runs the largest junior training squad in Europe (on the island of Mallorca.) It was a truly international field, with the top 10 women hailed from 6 different nations.
Great performances right throughout the field in one of the most competitive women's fields we've ever seen. Well done to everyone that finished, and the Paddle League have a full recap and results shortly...
TOP 10 ELITE WOMEN
1st: Sonni Hönscheid (2:20:35) Germany/Starboard 2nd: Olivia Piana (2:23:38) France/425 3rd: Fiona Wylde (2:25:19) USA/Starboard 4th: April Zilg (2:28:26) USA/Hobie 5th: Seychelle (2:29:22) USA/SIC 6th: Candice Appleby (2:30:39) USA/Infinity 7th: Terrene Black (2:30:40) Australia/ECS 8th: Shae Foudy (2:31:32) USA/Infinity 9th: Yuka Sato (2:34:34) Japan/Starboard 10th: Laura Quetglas (2:37:19) Spain/Starboard
HARBOR ISLAND MEN (3 mile open race)
1st: David Young
2nd: Jeff Berry
3rd: Dylan Henry
4th: Campbell Carter
5th: Mitch Cherry
HARBOR ISLAND WOMEN (3 mile open race)
1st: Tabitha Price
2nd: Samantha Stewart
3rd: Elle Newkirk
4th: Stella Gan
5th: Erin Fitzpatrick
MONEY ISLAND MEN (6 mile open race)
1st: Jeremy Whitted
2nd: David Slemp
3rd: Justin Schaay
4th: Steve Phillips
5th: Mike Taber
MONEY ISLAND WOMEN (6 mile open race)
1st: Heilani Cronsteadt
2nd: Kim Hillhouse
3rd: J Deriggi
4th: Meg Bosi
5th: Lindsay Cook