2021 Carolina Cup on Nov. 4-7th Draws Top Paddlers to Event

Graveyard cource stand up paddle Carolina Cup
Global Partner

2021 Carolina Cup becomes Qualifier for next year’s APP World Tour, as Tour is postponed due to ongoing travel restrictions.

Graveyard cource stand up paddle Carolina Cup
The Graveyard course at the 2021 Carolina Cup takes paddlers through the surf break, along the ocean, through the inlets and down the intracoastal waterways. It is a test of skill and endurance.

APP World Tour Postpones Competition Until 2022

In a recent announcement, APP CEO Tristan Boxford states that the Tour has decided to postpone competition until 2022 citing ongoing travel restrictions due to COVID-19. With the 2021 Carolina Cup only 3 weeks away (Nov. 4-7th), this is a dramatic shift in the trajectory of many top tier stand up paddle athletes from around the globe.

The Carolina Cup is the only official Association of Paddlesurf Professionals event in 2021,” said Boxford. “This event will feature both distance and sprints with APP prize money. However, due to extraordinary circumstances, we are not moving forward with a World Tour this year.

April Zilg Carolina Cup APP World Tour
North Carolina home girl, April Zilg is a top contender for the APP World Tour title. Photo by: S. Crowther/APP World Tour

Carolina Cup to Hold APP Qualifier Races for 2022

The Carolina Cup represents a four-day festival of stand up paddle events featuring seven races, seminars and clinics by the pros, product exhibits and demonstrations. Perfectly situated with both oceanfront and sound side beaches, all races and activities start and end at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, the official resort of the Carolina Cup. Activities begin on Nov. 4th and conclude on Nov. 7th.

April Zilg Carolina Cup APP World Tour
April Zilg is a fierce contender for the APP World Tour. Photo by: S. Crowther/APP World Tour

Graveyard Course: Challenging Top Competitors from around the Globe

Ranked second in the world in women’s stand up paddle board, North Carolina’s April Zilg announced plans to compete in the Carolina Cup’s brutal 13-mile Graveyard Race in Wrightsville Beach. “I have plans to race in November,” said Zilg. “It’s one of the biggest races in the world and one of the hardest courses.” 

The [Graveyard] race is unique, taking a paddler through both ocean and Intracoastal waters, navigating two inlets, battling tides, and entering and exiting through the surf,” explains Zilg. “It’s an excellent test of a paddler’s all-around skills, and mother nature doesn’t always play nice. Outside of some of the dedicated surf-zone races, the Graveyard Race is up there for difficulty, especially if you end up battling a stiff tide. It’s also a half-marathon distance, so the grind is real.

Read April Zilg’s reflection on her win
at the 2019 NY SUP Open

Casper Steinfath Denmark stand up paddling APP World Tour
Casper Steinfath claims his title at the hallowed Red Bull Heavy Water competition in California.

Graveyard Races Top Talent alongside Amateur Racers

Other early entrants include Casper Steinfath, the reigning APP World Champion. Growing up in a fishing village in Denmark, Steinfath developed a passion for water sports before he could walk, riding on his dad’s surfboard.

Now 28 years old, Steinfath is one of the fiercest water sports athletes on the planet, having won numerous victories and championships during his career including being 2X Champion of the famous Red Bull Heavy Water challenge in Ocean Beach, California. Also, in 2020, Steinfath was the first to stand up paddle solo across the Skagerrak, the 130-kilometer stretch of treacherous water dividing Denmark from Norway.

In addition to Steinfath, competitors Arthur Arutkin from France, ranked second in the world, and New Caledonia’s Titouan Puyo, ranked seventh, have also signed up for the competition – with many more to come.

Seychelle APP World Tour
Seychelle championed the woman’s division on the APP World Tour in 2019, capturing the title for the United States. Photo: Benjamin Thacker

Pro Clinics Available at Carolina Cup

Seychelle Webster, the reigning World Champion in the APP women’s division, will attend the Carolina Cup and plans to offer clinics, be available for demo days, and assist during the Kids Race.

I do not plan on racing this year,” said Seychelle. “The Carolina Cup has always been one of my top priority races for the year. But currently, my top priority and most exciting challenge is that I am pregnant. So, that is my focus for this year, and I will not be competing.”

Competing or not, this week in Wrightsville is going to be so much fun,” added Seychelle. I’m really excited to see and catch up with everyone and to support the APP and the Carolina Cup despite all the world challenges.”

2021 Carolina Cup Schedule of Events:

  1. The Graveyard Race (APP distance race) – A brutal 13.1-mile ocean and flat water race for the elite and professional paddle board racers, beginning and ending in the surf on the beach; stand up paddle board or prone.
  2. The APP Sprint – A dynamic short course (300m) with elimination format racing (pro and amateur) that provides dramatic action and a spectacle like no other, allowing the best to rise to the top.
  3. The Money Island Open Race – A 10-kilometer flat water race designed for the intermediate to advanced paddler, stand up paddle board, prone, kayak, Surfski, outrigger canoe (OC-1 and OC-2).
  4. The Harbor Island Recreational Race – A 5-kilometer flat water race for first-time to intermediate paddle boarders; stand up paddle board; prone.
  5. The Graveyard Surfski, Outrigger, and Kayak Race – A 13.1-mile elite race starting and finishing on the sound side, circumventing Wrightsville Beach, kayak; Surfski, outrigger canoe (OC-1 and OC-2).
  6. The Three Island Challenge – Start to finish on the sound side, this 9-mile race is for six-team ocean canoe crews (OC-6) male, female, and mixed-gender teams. The race circumvents the marshes and undisturbed islands and lowlands behind Masonboro, Money, and Harbor Islands.
  7. The Kids Race – For children 6 to 14, one and two-loop course races on the sound.


About the Carolina Cup & APP World Tour

The Carolina Cup is organized by the Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club and presented by Kona Brewing Company. The designated charity for the Carolina Cup is Nourish North Carolina, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to provide healthy food to hungry children, enabling them to succeed in the classroom and their communities.

The APP World Tour is recognized and sanctioned as the official world championship tour for stand up paddling by the International Olympic Committee’s Federation for Surfing Sports and the International Surfing Association.

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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.