paddlers racing at APP World Tour in Osaka, Japan
APP World Tour Racing in Osaka, Japan

Red Bull Competition to Include Female Paddlers for the 1st Time

In this year’s Red Bull Heavy Water competition, arguably the most intense standup paddling event in the world, women will finally compete.

Red Bull’s Heavy Water is notorious for rough waves and wind — and even tougher competition. This year, the competition is about to get tougher with the addition of female competitors. The Red Bull Heavy Water competition started in 2016, and while female competitors were invited last year, no race occurred due to bad weather.

APP World Tour
Photo credit: APP World Tour

Each October, Red Bull welcomes paddlers to San Fransisco for a challenge that includes a 12km ocean course and surf battle on the Californian coast. The 2017 event saw 15-foot tall surf. And after the cancellation of the 2018 event due to weather, the stoke for this year’s race is even higher.

The Red Bull Heavy Water comp this year is part of the APP World Tour circuit. The APP (Association of Paddlesurf Professionals) hosts the tour, which has over 60 competitors competing in sprint, distance, and surf for the world title.

Female Paddleboarders Pushing the Limits

2019 New York SUP Open winners, left to right: Shae Foudy, Annie Reickert, Seychelle Webster, April Zilg; photo credit: APP World Tour

“Red Bull Heavy Water has such a unique and compelling contest and course structure. The conditions are guaranteed to be challenging,” said Izzi Gomez, former APP World Tour Surfing Champion.

Currently, American paddleboarders hold the first-, second-, and third-place world champion rankings for women. For men, even the top 10 rankings don’t include any USA athletes. At Red Bull Heavy Water, this means national pride will focus on the female competitors, who have been itching to compete since last year.

In order for Heavy Water to successfully run next week, Red Bull needs to give the conditions a green light, which means good surf of at least 10 feet. The event has a big window to run between October 14 and November 7, during which it needs 7 days of good conditions.

Hopefully some consistent waves will roll in during that period, giving athletes to the chance to hit the water. To follow the competition, check out the Red Bull Heavy Water event pageUpdate: Red Bull Heavy Water has been given a green light and will run on October 18.

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.