September 4-6, 2015, Hayama, Japan — Kai Lenny takes the lead on his Naish Javelin 12’6” X24 Carbon, securing first place at the Victoria Cup Hayama Pro, stop 2 on the 2015 Stand Up World Series. Fellow teammates Casper Steinfath and Manca Notar also claim their spots among the top three, showcasing solid paddling skills and determination.
With over 300 participants, the event hosted many motivated up-and-comers and plenty of the best SUP athletes in the world. Taking place along the iconic Hayama Harbor, the weekend’s races provided an incredible show for enthusiastic fans of the sport and passersby. As Kai Lenny puts it, “The event overall was epic! Besides the great battles during the races, the people and the enthusiasm that surrounded the event was inspiring.”
Conditions for the 10 km long-distance race on day one were “a bit mixed”, as Casper puts it, as the multi-lap course “challenged [riders] with everything from grueling upwind, exotic downwind and classic ‘grindable’ flatwater.” Unfazed by the conditions, Naish’s Kai stole the lead from Connor Baxter on the upwind leg on lap two. Kai explains: “the conditions turned really bumpy mid-race and made the grind up wind a wet one” and though he quickly regained his footing after an unfortunate fall on the outside buoy, the slip was just enough for Connor to take the lead once again.
Filled with exhilaration, Casper started off the men’s 6 km sprints celebrating his 22nd birthday with an extra burst of energy. As Casper describes he had his “best start ever in the final and managed to beat [everyone] to the first buoy” while his “Naish Javelin 12’6” X24 Carbon was fully planing and about to fly off the water’s surface like a rocket. The sensation of speed was surreal. . .” Sharing his strategy to regain the advantage for the win, Kai describes “I had to be clever on when I made my move to pass. It’s really hard to pass when someone is in front of you during a sprint race because they can block the move to make sure you don’t pass. When Casper pushed Connor wide, that was my chance to sneak through the inside.” And, rounding the final buoy, Lenny took advantage of the opening, shooting past Connor Baxter and teammate Casper Steinfath to take first place for himself.
The first place win in the sprints secured the coveted overall event title for Lenny, pushing him up to share the top rank on the tour with Connor Baxter. Fellow teammate Casper Steinfath took second in the sprints to place third overall and fourth in the overall world tour rankings. Shout out to teammate Kody Kerbox who scored in the top 5 for men’s sprints.
Lighter winds during the women’s 10 km long-distance made for a challenging upwind/downwind race. Naish’s Manca Notar took advantage of her Naish Javelin 12’6” X24 Carbon and her strengths—feeling especially confident during the upwind portion—to secure a No. 3 spot at the podium for day one. Flat conditions during the women’s 6 km sprints on day two had Manca and competitors relying completely on their boards and agility throughout the entirety of the race. Determined for a strong position, Manca describes, “I had a really good start and gave it my all,” which was enough to earn herself second place in the women’s sprints and second place for the event overall. The strong finish places Manca Notar at the No. 2 position for the 2015 Stand Up World Series leaving her even more motivated for the next event.
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Photos: Waterman League