Road to 2018 Carolina Cup heats up as 5X champ Annabel Anderson bows out

Annabelle Anderson Fiona Wylde 2017 Carolina Cup Graveyard
Fiona Wylde hung tight on Annabelle's heels for much of the race. However, when Annabelle had enough, she shook Fiona off and finished the course with room to spare. Photo by: SU
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Annabel Anderson announced this week she will NOT be defending her 5X title at this year’s 2018 Carolina Cup.  The top ranked female in the world of sup racing cites a lingering concussion and an upcoming surgery as her reasons to sit this one out.

Annabel Anderson Pacific Paddle Games distance win
Annabel has been a force of dominance in every racing event that matters for several years running, including reclaiming her championship at the 2017 Pacific Paddle Games. Photo by Glenn Dubock

World Class:  Annabel takes time for recovery

Annabel Anderson is no stranger to injury.  The No. 1 woman in sup racing has had her fair share of bumps and bruises from an active lifestyle of mountain biking, river surfing and sup racing.  She is a fighter.

Which is why, on practically the eve of her defending her dominance at the  Carolina Cup, the stand up paddling tribe sits up  and blinks to hear the queen won’t be returning for 2018.

The saucy New Zealander reports plans to undergo surgery to address a “long-term and horrifically painful ailment” and time to fully recover from a serious concussion sustained earlier in the year as her motivation to sit out this year’s opening competition in the sup world tour.

One of the greatest athletes in the sport of stand up paddle racing, Anderson won two gold medals in the recent ISA World Standup Paddleboard Championships, continues to be the reigning World Sup Tour Salt Life Champion, 2017 Winner of the Pacific Paddle Games as well as 5X consecutive champion of The Carolina Cup.  She is ranked overall as No. 1 in the world, the only female to achieve this recognition.

I will not be defending my title in 2018. I’m 36. I’ve been living away from home 10-plus months a year for close to a decade. I’m recovering from a serious concussion sustained earlier in the year and have surgery at the end of March for a long-term ailment that has been horrifically painful for a long time. I’ve had my best ever season racing bikes at home, but right now life is telling me to look after my body and give others the opportunity to strive for the top step of the podium at Carolina Cup this year. There is more to life than titles and trophies.” – Annabel Anderson

Who steps up if Anderson steps off?

In light of Anderson’s decision, the field at the Carolina Cup just got interesting.  If Anderson isn’t present to defend her title, who will be the reigning queen for the Graveyard Course in 2018?

We’ve watched as Starboard’s Fiona Wylde has fought hard to compete with Annabel on her dominance in the Graveyard in year’s past.  Will this year’s be Fiona’s win?  We’ve also watched as young Jade Howson has given the sassy Maori a run for her money at the Pacific Coast Paddle Games in 2017.  And, with Jade’s true commitment and training with mentor/leader Candice Appleby has heated up, the addition of both these ladies on the course could make the 2018 Graveyard Race a battle to remember.

STAY TUNED for more updates from Standup Journal!


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.