If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that on occasion we award a deserving Elite Level Paddler, the “Gladiator of the Week Award.” This is something I take pretty seriously. I do quite a bit of research into each one, to make sure each one of these are really awarded to someone who personifies the term “SUP Gladiator.” The idea being, someone who take the sport to new levels, constantly pushing the boundaries, of their own abilities, as well as that of the hardware they use.
To date, I have only awarded 3 of these awards, which makes me think I need to change it to Gladiator of the Month, rather that week. It takes time to do the research, interview the candidates, and get feedback from those people I trust, who nominate these folks. In every case so far, I have been bombarded with notes telling me that particular choice was a “No Brainer.” In other words, we picked right. Each of these guys epitomize what the award was intended to stand for. If you have someone you think is deserving and fits the bill, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always looking for referrals for the award.
So far the Gladiators are (in order):
– One of the front men for Riviera Paddle Surf, and one of the top Unlimited Racers in the world. Thomas is on the forefront of driving innovation into Unlimited Class Racers, taking the size, and shape to new levels of competitiveness. Thomas is one of the top 2/3 guys, really responsible for making unlimited relevant in today’s racing scene. Thomas is also a very accomplished OC Paddler and Kiteboarder.
– One of the best long distance racers, as well as also being one of the best downwinders on the planet. Like Thomas, Livio has been responsible for some pretty important design innovation on the Downwind Board side. He has been working with Mark Raaphorst, of S.I.C. Maui, to design a new class of open ocean racer, that is fast in flatter conditions, while retaining the S.I.C. Heritage for being among the best downwind boards available anywhere.
– Jeremy, like Livio, tends to be one of the best downwinders and long distance racers around. He is also a pretty amazing Big Wave SUP Surfer. He too, is helping to drive innovation on the board and fin side. He is working with a partner to create a new class of hollow carbon molded Downwind Boards. He is also teaming up with Larry Allison of Allison Fins, to provide some Hawaiian Downwinder R&D Expertise. Larry has made huge inroads into the racing game, stateside, but the conditions in Hawaii are different, which is why Jeremy’s help will be instrumental in driving design appropriate for those conditions.
One really cool thing that happened this weekend, was that all 3 of these guys were in the same place at the same time, which is pretty rare. They competed in the Maui to Molokai race together on Saturday, which Connor Baxter won, and Livio finished second. For more info the race, click here for a good story via www.waterhound.com.
Getting the serious business out of the way, Yesterday they all took some off time to enjoy some down time on a classic Maliko run. Jeremy was kind of enough to take photos of the whole thing for me. Great pictures of our only 3 Gladiators to date, all together at once, on a classic Maui day. The only bummer of the whole thing is, I was not there to enjoy and learn from the 3 of them. There is always next year though!