18-Oct-2012 07:45 p.m.

Belz crowned World Champion 2012

New Zealand's Anderson Crowned Stand Up World Series Champion for 2012


New Zealand's Annabel Anderson confirmed her breakthrough season on the international stand up paddling circuit taking the double at the Stand Up World Series Finals at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii this past weekend.

Anderson who spent 2011 making podiums across the globe in every major event went into the finals as headline favorite following her dominating performance at the Rainbow Sandals Gerry Lopez Battle of the Paddle in Dana Point, California two weeks ago.

With wins racked up at five stops on the 2012 tour in Namotu, Fiji; Oleron, France; Turtle Bay, Hawaii; Chicago, USA and Cocoa Beach, USA, Anderson has been the lead females internationally including overall victories over her male counterparts on three separate occasions this year.

The Stand Up World Series Finals were once again staged on Oahu's North shore at Turtle Bay Resort.

With the recent massive swell decreasing, the two-day event was set to throw some major challenges. Saturday's long distance race, a 20km course, from Turtle Bay down traversing the famed surf breaks of the North Shore was forecast for trade winds in excess of 25 knots.

As the start gun blew, the wind faded and the heat bore down on the field with local knowledge playing a major factor. Anderson took to the lead early, but was challenged by Hawaiian lifeguard and acclaimed outrigger paddler, Rachel Bruntsch who thrived in the hot, flat conditions. As they passed Waimea, Anderson covered tactically, found another gear and put a sizeable gap on Bruntsch. Rounding the corner to the final stretch across the Haliewa harbour bar to the finish, Anderson once again found another gear accelerating in the cross wind conditions.

"That was a tough one. The wind died 10 minutes after the start and local knowledge played a major part today" Anderson said.

"I looked across and saw Rachel coming up the inside in what looked to be faster water, so I came across, covered and took it up a notch. Not having raced on this course before, I knew it would turn into a pretty tight and tactical race as it had done in the men's last year' Anderson added.

Athletes were back in action on day two, sprint racing in and out of the Turtle Bay surf break in what is fast becoming known as 'surf-cross' due to the similarity to both motor-cross and boarder-cross. With the swell starting to pulse again, competitors were faced with 5-6 foot surf and the offshore trade winds that had been lacking the day before.

The women faced a 'best of three heats' to find the sprint racing winner. Not normally known for her surfing ability, Anderson was up against proven surf athletes. As she made it to the top turning buoy in the first heat, like all 'cross' events, on or off the water, track or snow, there are many factors outside of the competitor's control such as waves which is what makes it a crowd pleaser for the spectators.

Turtle Bay's surf break did not disappoint. In the first round, Anderson punched out through the white water to a powerful lead only to be blocked & cut off on the set wave that would have taken her right to the finish. Forced to pull off the back of the wave and finding herself in 'no man's land', Anderson was in the wrong place to bear the set of waves that followed making it across the line in third. This is where the race got interesting. Bruntsch and Mariko Strickland of Kuaui had finished on the right hand side of the finish buoy, as opposed to the left. The results were re-awarded with Anderson taking first.

Into round two, Anderson made sure there was no margin of error leading from the start but finding no sets emerging on the horizon as she rounded for home. Hunting down the inside of the reef, she picked up some reforming waves for the win to make it two from two.

The final round was two laps and as she'd done all day, Anderson once again powered to the front but was left waveless on the first lap. With the rest of the field gaining a wave set as they turned the top buoy, Anderson once again had her work cut out for her on the final lap, this time challenged by the talented 18 year old Halie Harrison of Honolulu. An uncharacteristic falter getting back out saw Anderson have to quickly recover and sprint for the top mark again rounding in front. Gunning for the sea wall on the left to find some small swell, Harrison was in the right place at the right time to catch a set wave to the finish, but not enough to get in front.

With three wins, Anderson took out the title for the day, but also the World Series Finals as well as being crowned the World Series Champion for 2012.

"What an amazing way to finish this tour. It's been a pretty surreal few months."

For more information and further results visit www.standupworldseries.com


 


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