2018 Carolina Cup announces 14′ & Under division for Women’s Graveyard race

Pacific Paddle Games 2016 Wrap Up By Glenn Dubock
Global Partner

In a move highly celebrated among top female racers, the Carolina Cup stand up paddle race in Wrightsville Beach, NC will adopt a new protocol: allowing female racers to choose the length of board they ride from 14′ and Under to compete in the legendary Graveyard Course in 2018.

Penelope Strickland Starboard Sup
Penelope Strickland of Team Starboard has been a firm advocate for a Women’s 14′ and Under category for ALL events, not just the Carolina Cup.

Carolina Cup Graveyard course will include 14′ and Under division for Women

After years of deliberation, the 2018 Carolina Cup announced today that they will create a 14′ & Under board class for both Men and Women in the Elite Graveyard Race.

This move comes after a long battle on the part of top female pro racers to be allowed to choose the board length they ride. As the sport of stand up paddle racing has grown the board classes traditionally set have been the men on 14′ and women on 12’6.  But, as we learn more about sup racing, speed and glide, those board classes don’t necessarily fit every rider.  Today, the women’s argument is that (1) they have the right to choose. And (2) in many cases, asking top athletes to compete solely on 12’6 raceboards has hindered them; especially, in distance races like the Graveyard where a longer board length can actually help a strong paddler move more efficiently.

“I said that #istandupforequality and that extends to riding the same boards as the men. I am not weak, I am not unskilled and I don’t need a smaller board.” – Penelope Strickland

It’s about water displacement.  The larger paddlers (usually men) displace more water around their boards and therefore need more volume to keep their board on top of the water.  This volume, for men, comes in the form of a longer board – traditionally 14′ – which allows for more length of glide per stroke.  The women have wanted this same option for years.

For this year’s 2018 elite Graveyard Race, men and women will be able to choose the board length they feel will make them the most competitive.  It also allows the women to choose a board on which they are most comfortable for the multi-conditioned terrain evidenced by the 13-mile legendary Graveyard course.

Annabel Anderson and Fiona Wyde Carolina Cup Starboard
2018 Women’s Champion Annabel Anderson and Fiona Wylde tag team through the intercoastal waterway in last year’s Carolina Cup

The Carolina Cup gives five reasons for making their decision.

(1) The desire by women to be treated equally in competition and equipment as stated by many in the recent #IPaddleForEquality movement;
(2) The focusing of competition into a consolidated race;
(3) The logistical and operational burden put upon race directors to carry literally hundreds of potential board, age, and gender classes in a single event;
(4) The success of the 14’ and under board division in Europe; and
(5) The future direction of the sport as being dictated by the ISA.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) hosts a World Championship tour for stand up paddling every year.  It is also the organizing body spearheading the move to bring the sport of sup racing and surfing into the Olympics for 2020.  The ISA has also officially begun deliberations to make the move to a 14′ board class for both men and women.

There has also been much success in the European tour races that have included a 14′ board class for women.

Carolina Cup directors have stated that the Harbor Island (5K) and Money Island (10K) races will continue to embrace the 12’6 and Under competitive class along with the 14′ board class in both of those events.

Ladies, start your engines!



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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.