Last weekend saw the first leg of the APP World Tour with the London SUP Open on the Thames and around the royal docks, both iconic locations. The last and final distance race was held in such uncharacteristic London heat that even the pacific paddlers were melting. Temperatures soared up to 30 degrees Celsius and left a lot of athletes wondering whatever happened to England and its never-ending rain.

The event featured an exhibition race over the Thames, a series of sprints around the Royal Docks, and the long-distance race. Apart from that there were clinics, workshops, wakeboard demonstrations and plenty of other activities.

Travis Grant was there, and so was Marcus Hansen:

Marcus Hansen, International NSP Team Rider hailing from New Zealand

MARCUS, HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE LONDON SUP OPEN?
Well, first of all, I have been building my base and training since the beginning of the year. Since then I have done quite a few races which have given me the extra speed, endurance and mindset that is tough to replicate in training. Lately, I have been struggling for top end sprint speed in the last couple of weeks so I did a specific session targeting this on Thursday before the race. I travelled and rested on Friday and then I raced.

SO WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE LONDON SUP OPEN?
I was hoping for some really close and exciting racing. I wasn’t exactly sure who was attending so I hoped there would be plenty of competition. I love racing with the best in the world so the more top athletes attending, usually the better the racing turns out to be.

Marcus battling at the historic Royal Docks - Pic by Pierre Lesueur for Total SUP

WHO WERE YOU BATTLING DURING THE RACE?
In the tiebreaker 4km race on the Thames, I battled with Martino Rogai. I lost out to him at the end, but I had decided not to push into the red because that race did not count for points. In the sprints it was very tight and there was a bit of carnage at the mark rounding.

I had some fierce battles with many paddlers during my four sprint races. I had a big incident with Leo Nika soon after the start in one race. We couldn’t hold our position coming into the first mark and we clashed together with boards and paddles colliding. In the long distance, I was battling with Bruno Hasulyo most of the race. It was hot and the pace was high. We were both tired but we did not want to give the other any space or advantage. I was happy to get around the last mark in front of him and catch a few bumps to the finish, passing Connor Baxter on the way.

Staying ahead of the pack

WHAT IS THE RACE COURSE LIKE COMPARED TO OTHER CANAL RACES?
The river Thames was choppy with bumps going in all directions it seemed. Compared to Holland’s 11 Cities, the water was a lot more disturbed. The Thames race was also very short which is unusual for a flat water canal or river race. However, this made for an intense race and plenty of opportunities arose.

The royal docklands Marina was one of the flattest pieces of water I have ever raced on with international competition. This made for some high speeds in the sprint races. The sprint courses were very short and the mark roundings were a challenge with often 3 paddlers at a time trying to get around.

Very flat water indeed - Pic by Pierre Lesueur for Total SUP

It’s a shame there isn’t any more picture of the buoys. The course race was tough. It was 11km and the pace was high throughout the race due to the relatively short distance and the main pack tried to close down the breakaway of Michael Booth and Connor Baxter. It was super hot and all the mark roundings really tire out the legs.

HOW DID YOU RACE GO?
I am not sure of my exact results but I was around 10th in the Thames race. 2nd to last in the losers Final in the sprints and 7th in the distance race, which I see as my speciality. I wouldn’t have minded another lap though. I often seem to be able to pull through near the end. Overall I was 10th with the sprints and course race combined and the Thames race used as a tie-break.

Editor: Results are now in, Marcus made 10th place overall with 5.500 points.
For a list of the full results, click here and scroll down towards the end results.

All pics by Pierre Lesueur for Total SUP, Total SUP and APP World Tour