This year’s Graveyard race at the 2019 Carolina Cup, recently named a Qualifying Series event for the APP World Tour and powered by the World Paddle Association, did not disappoint as Starboard stand up paddle athletes Michael Booth and Sonni Honscheid cleared the pack for the win in both the Men’s and Women’s Pro racing divisions.
Michael Booth (Starboard) vs. Bruno Hasulyo (Light Board Corp)
For the Men, the jostle at the start led to two lead packs with ISA World Champion Michael Booth, the Hasulyo brothers and Tituoan Puyo leading the train. Conditions were near as perfect as the Graveyard gets as the howling winds of the days preceding the event laid down and racers started their 13-mile course facing the Masonboro Inlet to paddle down current along the intercoastal waterway.
“Yesterday was stormy, wavy and crazy out there. I got up this morning, looked outside and the conditions were glassy with light offshore winds and beautiful little waves, the complete opposite.” – Sonni honscheid
After Palm Tree Island, Booth and Bruno Hasulyo pulled out in front, establishing a clear lead from the rest of the pack. The two former Starboard team mates could be seen communicating and working together to create some distance between themselves and the powerhouses behind of Titouan Puyo and Travis Grant.
Around the turn into Mason’s Inlet, Bruno had a clear lead, but Boothy reeled him in stroke by stoke, reading the lines of the Inlet’s incoming current and catching Hasulyo as they made the final turn for the final 2-mile leg. From there, it was a two man train, each taking turns to pull as they faced into the wind for the final challenge. Shooting the pier to save time and energy, Booth and Hasulyo hugged the shoreline to diminish the effect of the incoming gusts.
“It was a tough race, but a lot better than last year. It was a very different field with a hard pace all the way. I got down and had to play it tactically smart, and I’m very happy with the win.” – Michael Booth
In the end, Booth had more gas in the tank and with that powerful, consistent reach of his, he pulled away in the final few hundred yards to round the buoy by himself and head to the beach. Hasulyo, riding his new brand’s board Light Corp, put in an impressive performance for his team with a strong 2nd place finish.
Graveyard Men’s Top 10:
1st – Michael Booth (AUS) Starboard
2nd – Bruno Hasulto (HUN) Light Corp
3rd: Daniel Hasulyo (HUN) Starboard
4th: Georges Cronsteadt (TAH) 425 Pro
5th: Tituoan Puyo (FRA) NSP
6th: Enzo Bennett (TAH) 425 Pro
7th: Ty Judson (AUS) NSP
8th: Travis Grant (AUS) NSP
9th: Mo Freitas (HAW) Rogue
10th: Keoni Sulpice (TAH) Starboard*
* It should be noted that young Keoni Sulpice who gave such a gutsy performance at the Air France Paddle Festival a few weeks ago that earned him a 2nd place finish, was also the first Junior division paddler to cross the line in the U17 category. Keep an eye out for this young freight train as he makes a name for himself in the year to come!
Sonni Honscheid (GER) Returns for another Carolina Cup Win; Local Legend April Zilg (USA) in 2nd place
The Women’s battle along the Graveyard’s grueling 13-mile grind could be seen in the faces of some of the Pros as they crossed the line. None however, looked as strong or as smooth & together as Starboard’s powerhouse Sonni Honscheid. When Sonni shows up at a race, she tends to win it. Today was not different.
“With the change in the conditions, I chose to use the Sprint, the flatwater board from Starboard which turned out to be a good choice. I didn’t have such a good start, but from there I made ground on the girls and kept up a good pace.” – Sonni Honscheid
Establishing a clear lead very early on in the race before the paddlers even entered the Masonboro Inlet, Sonni’s effortless stroke and superior power allowed her to pull away by the time she made the turn into the Intercoastal Waterway. Getting mixed up with the Men’s packs, Sonni threaded her way through to find clear water and an open stretch of water in front of her. From there, she just increased her lead to a dominant 5 minutes over fellow Starbaord teammate Fiona Wylde, Jade Howson and the fearsomely fit April Zilg.
Chasing after Sonni in a clear bid for 2nd place in her home waters, North Carolina native April Zilg eventually made her move away from the Women’s draft train and went after the leader. Fiona, Jade and Laura Garcia developed a working partnership to make it down the back stretch.
In the end, Sonni slammed through the finish with no one else in sight carrying her signature Starboard through the gates in a victory celebration. Local legend April Zilg was far clear of the pack and smiling down to the finish to take a well-deserved 2nd place in front of her home crowd. We are so stoked for you, April!
Jade Howson and Fiona Wylde rounded the final buoy together to make a final charge for the beach and 3rd and 4th places respectively. They were followed not too far behind by another close pack including Laura Quetglas Garcia in 5th, Kim Barnes in 6th and Stephanie Shideler in 7th, followed by Japan’s powerhouse Yuka Sato in 8th.
Graveyard Top 10 Women:
1st – Sonni Honscheid (GER) Starboard
2nd – April Zilg (USA) 404
3rd – Jade Howson (USA) SIC
4th – Fiona Wylde (USA) Starboard
5th – Laura Quetglas (Spain) Starboard
6th – Kim Barnes (USA) Flying Fish
7th – Stephanie Shideler (USA) Infinity
8th – Yuka Sato (JAP) Sunova
9th – Siri Schubert (SWI) SIC
10th- Maddie Miller (USA) Flying Fish
Kira Buchanan Reminds Us Why We Love the Sport of SUP Racing
In perhaps the greatest moment of the 2019 Graveyard race, we want to give a shout out to 15-year-old Kira Buchanan. Kira is a cancer survivor from Hood River, Oregon who decided not to let the disease dim her spirit or her unrelenting enthusiasm for stand up paddling.
Coached and encouraged by many of the Pro athletes including Fiona Wylde (above), Kira chose to paddle the 13.2 miles of the Graveyard course this year. She was one of 14 paddlers in the Under-17 age group on the race course that day. This 15-year-old cancer survivor crossed over the finish line at 4 hours, 12 minutes and 41 seconds in front of a crowd that was stunned by both her courageous effort and great inner strength. Kira’s paddle exemplifies the meaning of the Hawaiian word, ‘mana’ or personal power on a multitude of levels.
“So thankful to be surrounded by such great people! I can’t express how amazing the support I had that helped finish of the one hardest races, the 13.2 mile graveyard.” – Kira buchanan
Thank you, Kira for bringing the paddling community together. It’s moments like your Graveyard finish that – truly – make this sport everything that it is at its heart.
SUP racing is a unique endeavor where we get to come together, Pro and/or Amateur alike, to test ourselves, our training and our personal power out there on the water. We are lovers of the sport of stand up paddling and advocates for all things water. But, what makes this tribe special is how we cheer on and celebrate each other through the epic challenges that life brings.
Aloha to each of you who continue to hold that spirit.
Carolina Cup Growth Reflects Greater Organization of Sport of SUP
Total registrations for the 2019 Carolina Cup, including the Money Island, Harbor Island and Graveyard Races were on the rise from the previous year according to Race Director, Mark Schmidt.
“We believe the sport is organizing and maturing. Industry segments are now working together and stand up paddle racing is increasingly becoming a multi-generational family sport,” says Schmidt.
Organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and sanctioned by the World Paddle Association (WPA), the 9th annual Carolina Cup was the first SUP race of the newly formed partnership Qualifying Series, between the WPA and Association of Paddlesurf Professionals (APP).
Competitors in the Carolina Cup are afforded an exciting opportunity to earn points towards qualifying for the APP World Tour and World Championships. It is a noteworthy development in the overall growth of stand up paddling. The next race in the Qualifying Series is on May 4th in Columbus, Georgia for the Salt Life Columbus Cup. A FULL list of Qualifying Series events can be found HERE.
Money Island Men’s Overall Winners (6.5 miles)
1st Vincent Goyat (Tahiti)
2nd – Steve Phillips (USA)
3rd – Scott Baste (USA)
Money Island Women’s Overall Winners (6.5 miles)
1st – Lizi Ruiz (USA)
2nd – Gina DiPrimio (Canada)
3rd – Tracee Van Brunt (USA)
Harbor Island Men’s Overall Winners
1st – Adrian Barnett (USA)
2nd – Matt Kenney (USA)
3rd – Brad Hill (USA)
Harbor Island Women’s Overall Winners
1st – Katie Roberts (USA)
2nd – Gail Case (USA)
3rd – Lisa Landtry (Canada)