SUP history was made as the inaugural 2019 ICF SUP World Championships went down in Qingdao, China. As expected, the racing action was furious and the on-water battles intense, but one thing remained constant throughout the weekend: Black Project athletes standing atop the podium.
From sprints to distance, pros to juniors, Black Project was the brand to beat all weekend long—racking up an incredible six World Championships.
“It was a great race, I had a lot of fun and felt strong all the way,” said Sonni Hönscheid, 2019 ICF Womens Distance World Champion. “Just coming here to Qingdao, and paddling in this place, there is a very special energy.”
Honscheid wasn’t the only Black Project athlete to tap into that special energy.
Connor Baxter set a world record, the Black Project ladies swept the distance race podium, Olivia Piana left with two golds and a silver, and Black Project’s top junior athlete, Rai Taguchi, claimed two Junior World Championships.
While training regiments, paddling styles and mindsets of our athletes all differ, there was one factor that remained the same for each championship performance: Black Project’s Tiger Fin.
There’s a reason we say the Tiger is the fastest SUP racing fin in the water and its performance at the 2019 ICF World Championships was the proof. Whether it was distance, technical or sprint racing, the Tiger won them all.
The fastest performance of the weekend was turned in by Connor Baxter. Not only did the Maui local win the 2019 ICF Mens Sprint Racing World Championship, Baxter made SUP history by becoming the first person to finish a 200-meter sprint race in under 47 seconds. His blistering time? 46.38 seconds.
“It felt fast, for sure,” said Baxter. “The boys and all of us were pushing hard. I felt my arms cramping and I felt the speed was going good, but to say 46? No, I did not think I was going that fast. To beat that and win like this today is an amazing feeling. I’m stoked.”
In addition to his historic effort in the Sprints, Baxter added a hard-fought Silver in the Mens Technical race.
The overall top female paddler at the 2019 ICF World Championships was undoubtedly Olivia Piana, who used Black Project’s Tiger fin and Hydro paddle all weekend.
After finishing second to fellow Black Project athlete Sonni Hönscheid in the Distance race on Friday, Piana came back the following two days to win World Championships in both the Sprint and Technical races. While she is well-known as a paddling powerhouse in both technical and distance racing, the World Championship in the Sprints was unexpected.
“It’s the biggest surprise because I have never done a sprint race before, this was the first one of my life,” Piana said. “It’s nice to discover this format, and it’s an even bigger surprise to win it.”
In sprint racing, mere milliseconds are often the difference between winning and losing. That’s why having superior equipment gives paddlers a crucial advantage. With Baxter and Piana both claiming Sprint World Championships, not to mention Rai Taguchi winning Silver in the Junior Sprints, the Black Project advantage was undeniable.
In addition to a runner-up finish in the Sprints, Black Project Junior athlete Rai Taguchi also won World Championships in the Junior Mens Distance and Technical races. Using the Tiger / Hydro combo, Taguchi’s memorable performance suggests he’ll be a force to reckon with for years to come.
Black Project athlete Fiona Wylde also took home some hardware from China, notching a pair of Bronze medals in the Women’s Technical and Distance races.
With six world titles and many more medials, it was a good weekend to be a Black Project athlete at the 2019 ICF World Championships.