Racing from Ocean Beach to the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay on his Naish Maliko 12’6”, Casper Steinfath finished runner up in the 2016 Standup World Series after the inaugural Red Bull Heavy Water with Naish teammate Kai Lenny third in the overall tour standings. It’s been a very exciting year for Steinfath who had multiple stop wins. Here, in his words, is Steinfaths recap of Red Bull Heavy Water and his 2016 SUWS season:
October 19, 2016, San Francisco, California – After an exciting weekend of racing in Maui, it was time for the final stop of the 2017 World Series; The Red Bull Heavy Water taking place in San Francisco. Most of us athletes jumped straight onto planes for California just hours after finishing our race on Maui. It was a hectic take off, but we were all stoked to heed the call as a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska was sending solid swell to the California Coast.
Coming into this final event of the World Series I had my eyes set on winning the 2016 World Series World Title. Thanks to a great start to my year in Japan and Germany I had been wearing the yellow leader jersey for most of the season. Even though I just barely lost the jersey in Maui—with a top three finish in San Francisco—I could reclaim it and take the overall title for the year. The board was set and the game was on!
The conditions for the race were heavy and the event definitely lived up to its name. At morning’s first light we were greeted by beautiful, clear skies and massive swell at Ocean Beach. Ten feet was the minimum wave requirement for this historic and extreme SUP race and we were not to be disappointed. Between having a world title on the line and looking at the surging waves of Ocean Beach I did feel some butterflies in my stomach.
The race proved to be a challenge like nothing else I have ever experienced in SUP racing and I was pushed to my furthest limits. The waves were relentless and it was equally a race against Mother Ocean as it was a race between me and the other athletes!
I raced my hardest through the menacing waves of Ocean Beach and took my fair share of washings and beatings in the surf. It was more like survival than a race, but my trusty Naish Maliko 12’6″ X26 kept me going even when it got really rough! Connor, Kai and I kept switching back and forth, taking the lead at different times. On the final lap, Connor managed to break away from Kai and I and put a decent gap between us as we began our long distance grind around Land’s End and under the Golden Gate Bridge. We chased him down as hard as we could, despite my body burning from battle in the waves just minutes earlier.
I pushed my hardest to the very end in the chaotic waters of the San Francisco Bay, but in the end I crossed the finish line in 4th place. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was pretty stoked with my result in this very crazy race, but it was also like an emotional rollercoaster coming so close to winning the World Title and then watch it fly away right in front of me. It didn’t take long for the stoke to hit me, though. I quickly realized how proud I was to have made it this far and how big of an honor it was just to be in contention for a world title at the final event of the series. This is a feeling I will remember for a long time!
Looking back, it has really been a fantastic season for me and I am extremely proud to finish runner up on the World Series; my best result there yet! I feel that I have learned so much about myself as an athlete and as a person and I am deeply thankful to my family, friends and sponsors that have helped me this far. I’m already fired up to step it up another notch next year!
– Casper Steinfath
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